I don't watch television. No time, really, and I don't like vulgar comedy. The only thing I watched last year was Downton Abbey, and I'm not even convinced I want to see this year's episodes that start in January. I mean, really, was it necessary to kill Matthew? I will watch Netflix now and then and other dvds (always watch L.A. Confidential at least once a year), but that's it. TV is too much bother.
Silly me. I was nosing around on instant Netflix on my iPad late one night, and my goodness, I happened onto Ripper Street. As soon as I noticed that the BBC series (first season) starts six months after the last "visit" by Jack the Ripper to Whitechapel, I knew I was hooked. Crime fiction is my escape reading, and I decided that Victorian crime fiction on the telly was worth a look.
My goodness, I loved it, all eight gritty, gory, violent episodes. The casting is amazing, with Matthew Macfadyen as Inspector Edmund Reid, who in fact handled the H Division located in Whitechapel, one of London's seamiest slums. His gruff and tumble sidekick Sgt. Bennett Drake is played by the excellent Jerome Flynn. Rounding out the ensemble is Andy Rothenberg as Homer Jackson, a former Pinkerton/U.S. Army surgeon and general, all-around bad boy, who supplies the technical know-how in an era just dipping into technology. There are ladies, and bad girls, and a Jewish orphanage director, and assorted flats, cheats and dangerous creeps. Be still, my heart.
The set is dressed amazingly well, with a scrupulous eye to detail, especially in the period clothing and manners. Maybe the stories strain credulity a time or two, but did I care? Not a whit. I even ordered the dvd of Season One on Amazon this morning (which I plan to loan to you, Bob Kisthart, when I see you in Yellowstone in a few weeks). Apparently Season Two was in the planning before Season One even came out. It's that good.
If you're not a fan of violence, heavy accents, bloody swash and nonstop action, don't watch. But if you enjoy impressive eye candy in a rough-hewn way, excellent acting, and something a bit different, tune in. I believe the new season starts in November. I can barely wait.
Now to something different - A few weeks back, I spoke to a library book club in Emery, Utah, about My Loving Vigil Keeping. The group calls itself the Page Flippin' Divas, and they are a fun, well-read group. Pretty much every group I speak to wants to know which of the characters in the novel are real (most of them), and how I did my research. I'm happy to talk about it, if they'll willing to listen.
When the meeting was over, I chatted with the ladies. One of them - she might have been in her 80s - wanted to tell me about her father. His last name was Hansen and she was the oldest child. She went with him everywhere, and grew up hearing him say "Diolch," in place of "thank you." In that way of children, she never questioned him about it, because she knew he was saying thank you. She did wonder what the language was, but never asked him.
She told me that not until she read My Loving Vigil Keeping, and saw that word in the book, did she put two and two together and realize that her father, a Hansen, was saying thank you in Welsh. "My younger brothers and sisters don't remember him saying that," she told me. "Maybe by the time they came along, he was just farther away from the word."
Since her father's last name was Danish, I had to ask her about her mother. "Her last name was Oliver," she said. Bingo. Welsh. We had a little laugh, and she said that the book brought her closer to her father, because of that simple word.
And that's the fun part about writing, and the total payoff: visiting with readers and hearing their stories.
Now, how many days until Season Two of Ripper Street starts? I am a fan girl.