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Reviews: Jeremy Thorpe and A Very English Scandal

6/01/2020 3:54 PM
Reviews: Jeremy Thorpe and A Very English Scandal

Regular Good Reading contributor, Clive Hodges, has reviewed the three-part series, A Very English Scandal, for his film group. The television series was adapted from the 2016 novel of the same name. Another book that tells the same story is the biography Jeremy Thorpe, by Michael Bloch, which Clive also reviewed for Good Reading at the time.

We know you will all be on the hunt for great books and television right now during a time of social distancing and isolation, and we hope you enjoy this recommendation.

Book Review:

Jeremy Thorpe, by Michael Bloch

(Little, Brown) 2014

Jeremy Thorpe died on 5 December 2014, aged 85. Within days, this definitive biography of one of the most fascinating British politicians since World War II was on the printing press. Thorpe, educated at Eton and Oxford, was a member of parliament by 30 and leader of the Liberal Party at 37. He was flamboyant with a sharp wit and a talent for mimicry.  Popular with his constituents and highly effective in raising the Party’s profile, he brought much-needed colour to Westminster.

At Eton, he set himself two goals: to become a Liberal prime minister and to marry Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister. He was devastated when she chose Tony Armstrong-Jones.

Thorpe suffered bouts of depression and suicide was a family curse. He was married twice: his first wife died in a car crash. He had many friends, some enemies and a strong urge to live an exciting life. He formed an ill-advised relationship in the early 1960s with Norman Scott, a male model, former stable lad and an occasional patient in psychiatric hospitals. Scott’s incessant boasts of his ‘affair’ with Thorpe led to bizarre consequences.   

This long-suppressed biography, one of the most extraordinary political tales of the 20th century, is a masterly portrait of a charismatic but flawed individual. Life was stressful, challenging and traumatic. It was never boring. Five stars!

Television review: 

A Very English ScandalBBC

A fact-based three-part British television comedy-drama, A Very English Scandal is available on ABC TV iView until 21 April 2020 or on Foxtel by subscription.

Entertaining, very funny and well worth watching. The script is based on John Preston’s book A Very English ScandalThe book, known as a ‘non-fiction novel’, has been called ‘naughty and eccentric’. 

It was published after the death of Jeremy Thorpe as one cannot legally defame the dead. I spread my watching of the three episodes over three weeks and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Five stars from me!