Three Little Words “fit the bill” in Wolf Hall

I am completely enraptured by the BBC production of Wolf Hall.  At times I call it Wolf Hall for Dummies as it is so easy to understand – I didn’t finish the book.  Much as I enjoy most historical novels and biographies this one wasn’t to my taste.

But that is beside the point.  It is the language  in the novel and the TV production  which interests me.  At no time in the written word or on the TV screen did I feel uncomfortable with the language.  It was so natural I didn’t even stop to think that this was not necessarily the type of speech that was used in the early 1500s.

So I found it surprising to read in English newspapers  the complaints about a word which nowadays is not acceptable in polite society but in the time of Henry VIII was in fairly common usage.  I didn’t even have a flicker of discomfort .  It was perfectly OK in a bit of man talk for those times.

But, and it’s a big but, I lost the thread and my jaw dropped when Jane Seymour said she would find a prayer which would “fit the bill”.  Fit the Bill.  To me that is completely out of character.  Modern English is used  in the novel but to me it is modern English devoid of any really quirky sayings which don’t really” fit the bill” for a story about Cromwell. This would have been used  in the second novel which I didn’t buy but I presume the saying was used by Hilary Mantel.  The saying  originally cropped up in a written work early in the 1800s but is still widely used today.

The Oxford and Cambridge English Dictionaries are a good source of information  for the using and  meanings of words  in classic novels or in  period pieces written more recently. .They do a wonderful job of getting back to the  original meanings of words instead of just parroting current usages as many of the contemporary dictionaries do.

And so back to the BBC and the wonderful portrayal of Cromwell, You see the story through Cromwell’s eyes and Mark Rylance’s subtle portrayal  is so good that you can almost tell what Cromwell is thinking.

So I will forget “fit the bill” and go back to adoring the BBC’s Wolf Hall.  I didn’t even notice the white teeth which niggles with some people as reported in The Guardian

In the meantime full marks to the designers and their choice of a  colour palette.  Combined with candles it is just  perfect.

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Book Clubs, Libraries and Cloud Atlas

This is a dreary photo of the view from a coffee shop across a shopping centre car park to a brown box on the other side of a busy road.  But the uninspiring brown box is actually a branch of our local library system and was a place I visted this week.

I had read where tthe librarians  were having a “book chat” for an hour each month.  That sounded very appealing.  It’s some time since I’ve belonged to a book club and this way I didn’t have to take my turn as hostess, no cleaning of the house, no massive supper spread to prepare.

So I went along armed with my copy of my latest love, Cloud Atlas, prepared to gush about its many allures but also looking forward to finding out which books others were enjoying.

I was the only person who arrived.  Can you believe that.  The first month one arrived, the second no-one came and this month there was just me.  But it was a stand-out hour for me this week. Talking non-stop books with the librarian ( a complete stranger) and learning each other likes and dislikes.  Hopefully I’ve persuaded her that Henning Mankell is a crime author well worth reading and helped her understand Cloud Atlas so that she will now finish it.  And she has persuaded me to give Wolf Hall another try.  By the way, I call Cloud Atlas a circular novel because once I got to the end I had to go straight back to the beginning and start it again. I tend not to look up reviews etc while I’m in the middle of a book but once I was finished  I found the forums and blogs about this book most helpful. I was so gratified when they picked up on points which I had noticed and so pleased to be told about the references which I had missed.

I hope the librarian enjoyed the hour as much as I did.  For me it was then straight over to the coffee shop to sit and look back at that building with its bleak exterior hiding its magical books.