Novelist Joanna Trollope Salutes Evelyn Waugh

In a BBC TV interview broadcast last Sunday (March 23, 2014) which continues to be available over the internet on BBC iPlayer, Mark Lawson spoke with novelist Joanna Trollope about her writing career.  She is distantly related to the novelist Anthony Trollope but never found that the relationship had helped her own career in any way.  She began with historical novels, but really hit her stride in the 1980s with what came to be called “the Aga saga,” consisting of stories of modern women in contemporary rural English settings.  The best known are those which were made into popular TV series in the mid 1990s such as The Choir (1988), and The Rector’s Wife (1991) and The Village Affair (1989).  When Lawson noted the similarities of several of her plots to the events in her life, Trollope agreed that most of her plots were evoked by real life but pointed out that she was quite capable of getting ideas from something as prosaic as a supermarket queue.  Some autobiographical elements obviously crept into the stories but in a “very diffused way.”  On the other hand, she had never tried to take anyone directly out of real life and put them into a story.  In her opinion, she thought one would “have to be as skilled as Evelyn Waugh to do that because that’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”  She offered no examples of Waugh’s success in this regard.

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