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Book Report: Madensky Square

Having adored A Song for Summer, Your Humble Blogger hit the library shelf for another one of Eva Ibbotson’s books for grupps. I wound up with Madensky Square, which was a very sweet and lovely historical romance (without so much adventure). More than anything, it reminded me of a really good Masterpiece series. It’s got great costumes and setting (a dressmaker’s in Vienna in 1910 or so), and lots and lots of characters, each of whom would be lots of fun to play. There’s, let’s see…

The main character is the owner of the dress shop, who is nearing forty. I’d like to see Lisa Dillon in that one, but they may need a bigger name; it would be a great return to British TV for Catherine Zeta-Jones. There are her two assistants, the red and the one who doesn’t want to get married; I have no ideas but there can’t be a shortage of actresses for that. There’s the cheap old Countess, that’s a Maggie Smith part, or maybe Sinead Cusack. There’s the operetta singer; perhaps Lisa Dillon for that. Her lover is a brief part, a cozy middle-aged man; is Jim Carter too old? For his wife, the crazy philosopher/activist, Amy Marston. Their daughter is an important role, a plain twenty-ish woman; again, I have no idea but there are plenty of options. Her friend, the ethereal beauty is yet another young woman, but her fiancee is a sausage entrepreneur and a wonderful role, and I would love to see Simon Russell Beale in it. And his aunts, well, is Anna Massey still alive? She could play both of them, as far as I’m concerned. Or bring back Joan Plowright.

OK, that’s that group; then there are the Madensky Square gang. There’s the old Professor who keeps proposing to the dressmaker; he could be Jonathan Pryce, or maybe Tom Wilkenson. The other one could play the bookseller who hates to sell books. The bridle and tackle man could be, maybe, Tom Hollander. Now that I’m thinking about it, Jim Carter would be better for the lumber merchant with all the daughters. There’s the little boy who plays the piano, and his uncle who is foreign and poor; I was totally going in the wrong direction in this one until my Best Reader suggested Pete Postlethwaite. Simon Callow is the impresario, if you can get him. Tim Pigott-Smith could be the Minister with the nasty habit, and Imelda Staunton would be perfect as his distraught wife. Oh, the concierge with the dog; Kristen Scott Thomas may be too good-looking but could carry it off.

And I’ll propose Philip Glenister for the dressmaker’s lover. I think he’d be terrific. My other idea is Rupert Graves; he’d be terrific, too.

Well. That’s not all the characters, but it’s enough to be going on with. Oh, shoot, Tom Hollander could play the American banker’s son who loves the communist assistant. Or is he too old, now? And somebody’s got to play the horseman who acts as go-between for the dressmaker and her lover, let’s say Sean Pertwee.

See, this is the thing: nobody’s going to make a miniseries out of an out-of-print Eva Ibbotson book. And if they do, everyone I’ve listed will be to old for their parts. But still. It would be glorious.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,