Thursday, December 10, 2020

Karen Brooks's "The Lady Brewer of London"

Australian-born Karen Brooks is the author of numerous novels, an academic, a newspaper columnist and social commentator, and has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. Before turning to academia, she was an army officer, and dabbled in acting. She lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

Here Brooks dreamcasts an adaptation of her novel, The Lady Brewer of London:
If The Lady Brewer of London was made into a movie, I know exactly who I’d like to play Anneke Sheldrake. When I first started writing, I imagined a young Ann Margaret. She looks so right for the part with her gorgeous red hair, the shape of her eyes and height. Anneke is eighteen when the book opens, and is immediately put in a situation where she has to shoulder incredible responsibilities for someone so young. Basically, make a living in order to support her younger siblings and family servants and not be evicted from their home. Undaunted (except to those who really know her), she makes what some in that time would have considered an indecent proposal to her landlord to help her family not only survive, but thrive. She pays the price for her chutzpah, but at the same time refuses to be beaten. I could see Ann Margaret filling the role beautifully.

But then I saw Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza in the BBC adaptation of Poldark and knew this was the actor I wanted. Like Anneke, Eleanor/Demelza is tall, and her character is feisty, strong, but also able to project a vulnerability on screen which I believe is needed. You root for her so hard, which is what I want people to do for Anneke.

It would be easy then to cast Demelza’s onscreen husband from Poldark, Aidan Turner as Leander, the male lead in the story and certainly, he ticks many boxes. But, right from the beginning, I saw Goran Visnjic (a Croatian-American actor) as Leander. Dark, brooding, very tall (essential) but with a kind face too, he manages to be both mischievous and mysterious – a wonderful combination and which Leander also exudes.

As for directors, it would be hard to go past either Scott Frank (Queen’s Gambit) or Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). Both these directors not only get their aesthetic perfect, but they have fantastic shades of light and dark in their story-telling and allow the camera to draw out the characters as well, not just dialogue or costuming and setting (though they’re important too). They also tell women’s stories so powerfully but without sacrificing men to the female narrative, but making them an intrinsic part of it while still allowing the women to shine. Anneke shines so bright, she’s dazzling. At least, I hope so.
Visit Karen Brooks's website.

--Marshal Zeringue