The BBC is clearly getting ready for the big anniversary of 2014. As well as Tom Stoppard’s adaptaion of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, which I’m greatly looking forward to, they have now announced a new film of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth.
I remember vividly the seventies TV adaptation of this book – so engrossing that after the second episode I bought the book to see what would happen – and then was disappointed. The tone of the book seemed nagging in a way that the TV version wasn’t.
Brittain had a tragic war, and she tells her story compellingly in the Testament, but she was writing in the thirties, and with a political agenda.
The case against Brittain is made very compellingly by James Bowman in this article from the New Criterion. He condemns her ‘passive-aggressive exploitation of her own grief for political purposes.’ Is he fair to Brittain? Not quite, perhaps, but he definitely has a point.