To say that this is BY Julian Fellowes, of “Downton Abbey” fame, is to indulge in some poetic license. As Julian, to his credit, explains prior to the start of Episode 1, “Doctor Thorne” is a book by much-regarded British Victorian-era writer Anthony Trollope [1815 – 1882]. Julian took Trollope’s masterpiece (and all of Trollope’s work is considered as such) and made it into a screenplay. And, of course, Julian, a master himself, did a masterful job. However, even Julian, with all of his magic, cannot take the Trollope out of “Doctor Thorne” — and that is both good and bad.
Prolific Anthony Trollope, who had a day job working for the British postal service, was a Victorian writer — and “Doctor Thorne”, published in 1858, starts off, set in 1830s. Basically that is 90 to a 100 years PRIOR to “Downton Abbey”. Furthermore, Victorian writers, by nature, were DARK and often prone to be lugubrious. And that comes across even with Julian’s deft touch.
Having watched, with great sadness, the very last episode of “Mr. Selfridge” last night, we tried out Episode 1 of “Doctor Thorne”, on Amazon Prime Video (which we subscribe to), as a possible diversion. It wasn’t bad. I had to pause it, often, to explain to the kids what was happening. That was never necessary with “Downton” — and that is a key difference. Trollope tends to be subtle.
I am sure that we will watch all of “Doctor Thorne” and get to love it. I already ordered — in print and in Kindle — everything written by Trollope. This will be my excuse to read Trollope! SMILE. That alone is good. I can’t be a Philistine when it comes to Victorian novels (bar some exceptions, like “Jane Eyre“) all my life.
So just a heads up. Not Julian Fellowes BUT Anthony Trollope.
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