Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Mystery of Edwin Drood - part two - review

The Mystery of Edwin Drood concluded this evening, and I thought Gwyneth Hughes did a pretty good job in making this a watchable drama. I'm going to avoid spoilers in this post, but suffice to say that the screenplay included a couple of plot twists that were enjoyable, without resulting in a masterpiece.

I do think the adaptation was a worthwhile project, and what will stick in my mind about it longest, apart from the excellent portrayal of Jasper, is the atmosphere, in particular of the cathedral and its environs, which played a suitably important part in the resolution of the story.

Finishing a story that the original author left unfinished is a fascinating and extraordinary thing to do. I've written before about my work on completing The Lazarus Widow, begun by the late Bill Knox, and that experience has made me more interested than ever in the craft of completion. With The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a contemporary writer has the privilege of working with characters created by a literary genius, but also the challenge of producing a whole story which pleases a modern reader, whose tastes in crime and mystery are arguably more sophisticated and difficult to satisfy than those of Dickens' time. So I can guess that Hughes found the task demanding, but ultimately very rewarding.

I'm tempted to write more about the challenges posed by Edwin Drood's story. Perhaps on Friday, in the context of a Forgotten Book that I'm rather fond of.


Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I enjoyed this too and wondered how it would work out. I think it was successful and fascinating.

My copy of the book, which I read nearly 18 months ago, has an appendix of Dickens's working notes which I meant to write about at the time - but didn't. I'm tempted to so so now. There is also a list of projected names and titles, some of which would match Gwyneth Hughes's conclusion.

I'm looking forward to your follow up post.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Margaret, do check out End Game, which I discuss tomorrow. Fascinating book.