Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena's Plan

Bonnie often brings home wonderful surprises from the Downers Grove Public Library. Last night it was the DVD of The Young Visiters. The spelling is correct, or at least that is the way that nine-year-old Daisy Ashford spelled the title of her first novel in 1890, when she wrote the book in twelve days and presented it to her parents. The manuscript stayed in the family until 1919, when it was discovered and published with Daisy’s spelling. According to the narrator, the book has never been out of print.

There was a time a few years ago that Jim Broadbent was in nearly every Masterpiece Theater and British film that we saw. I first remember noticing him in Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet, in which he played an out-of-work cook who buys a broken down lunch wagon with a ne’er-do-well friend. Enchanted April, The Crying Game, Topsy-Turvy, and Moulin Rouge are just a few of his many movies. In The Young Visiters he plays “an elderly man of 42” named Alfred Salteena, who wishes to marry the young Ethel Monticue, played by Lyndsey Marshal, whom he meets on a train. To win her heart, he promises to introduce her to English lords and ladies, a foolish promise for a lonely ironmonger to make. His one upper crust acquaintance is Lord Bernard Clark, played by Hugh Laurie. If you know Broadbent and Laurie, you know to expect some silliness. The scene in which the unmannerly Mr. Salteena tries to eat lobster is hilarious.

Broadbent is quoted on the BBC Drama on TV website as saying the author Daisy Ashford was “startlingly perceptive” for a nine year old. I now want to read the book.

If you have not heard of The Young Visiters, which Broadbent produced it for BBC Television, you are not alone. It was shown on BBC America, but our SWAN catalog shows that few libraries own the book or the DVD. I just ordered the book and will ask Aaron to order the DVD for my library. I know a lot of people who will enjoy it.

Ashford, Daisy. The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena’s Plan. Chicago, Ill.: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1991. ISBN 0897333659

The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena’s Plan. BBC Video, 2004. ISBN 0790717476

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