My unreliable memories of the “All Souls” trilogy and my inability to judge an actress’ age.

Memory (at least mine) is an unreliable thing. Its workings somehow led me to delay reading the last two books of Deborah Harkness’ “All Souls” trilogy. It seems my opinion shifted from ‘mostly pleased but with a few reservations‘ to ‘I don’t have the energy to spend on this‘. I was unaware of the change and I don’t know what caused it.

I read and reviewed “A Discovery of Witches” back in 2014, the year the third book in the trilogy was published. Re-reading the review now, it seems I found the whole thing entertaining, despite its length and leisurely pace and admired the originality of the re-shaping of the witches, vampires and demons into something new, interconnected and plausible. My only reservations were:

“The sensual scenes are too Romance Writers of America for my taste. They lack the vivid reality the rest of the book has. I also the bringing together of the creatures in Madison was a little too comfortable to be completely credible.”

The cliff-hanger ending annoyed me but, as all three books had been published by the time I read the first, it didn’t signify.

And yet, I didn’t buy the second book until 2016 and it has sat on in my virtual TBR pile ever since. Meanwhile, my reservations about the book became my lasting impression of it and so it never became my next choice of book to read.

Then, last year, I bought the DVD of the television series based on “A Discovery Of Witches” (yes, I know, who buys DVDs anymore? The thing is, I like having a physical copy to keep if the series merits it and to release into the wild if I don’t think I’ll watch it again.) and was impressed by the high quality of the adaptation. It didn’t rush. It didn’t simplify. It looked wonderful and the actors made the characters more vivid and made the romance less lame.

I was amazed at how much I’d forgotten in five years. I remembered the Oxford parts clearly but the events from the time they moved to France had faded. I’d even forgotten that the ending was a cliff-hanger. So much for my memory.

So, when I was selecting books for my 20 for 20 Reading Challenge – to read twenty books of more than twenty hours length in 2020 – I included “Shadow Of Night”.

The DVD version of the book arrives in March so I decided now was the time to listen to the original.

I’m ninety minutes in and so far it’s fun, although it’s mainly the set up of the arrival in Elizabethan England.

It amused me that everyone one thought Diana must be a widow with children because she is so old. This prompts Diana to reflect that she is only thirty-three. At this point my old man’s fading judgement clicked in and I found myself going, “Thirty-three? Why couldn’t they have gotten an actress of the right age to play her in the TV series? The one they chose is far too young.” Then, because that’s the kind of pedant I am and because it’s Sunday and there’s a stormy blowing outside. I looked up the actress, Theresa Palmer, and discovered that she was born in 1986, making her thirty-two when the series was filmed. Which shows how poor my judgement of ages is and explains why they now allow such young people to be doctors and police officers.

Anyway, I’m away off to the sixteenth century to see what trouble Diana and Matthew get themselves into before, in another twenty-three hours, I reach my next cliff-hanger ending.

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