Earlier this month it was reported on The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) Montreal website that The Alienist TV series would be shooting in Montreal this summer. On Wednesday of last week, however, Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reported that, “The Quebec city [Montreal] is losing two American series to New York, as I hear TNT’s straight-to-series The Alienist also recently decided to relocate.”
At this stage, I have been unable to find another source to confirm the report that shooting has moved to New York City. Nonetheless, the series is no longer listed on ACTRA Montreal “What’s Shooting” pre-production list, so at the very least it appears to have been confirmed that shooting has moved from Montreal. It would certainly be exciting to hear that the production has moved to New York — after all, many of the book’s settings still exist, as 17th Street’s maps of Alienist locations demonstrate — so as more news comes to light about this development, it will be reported here.
In order to provide a short break from posting news on the blog, I’ve decided to feature a book blog this month about a novel I recently read for the first time: The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. Although I hadn’t intended to discuss this hefty classic (it ranges in page length, depending on edition, from 800 to over 1000 pages) on 17th Street, by the time I reached the three-quarter mark in my reading, I came to feel that I would be doing this masterpiece of literature a disservice if I did not feature it here. Aside from sharing several themes with the Alienist novels, it also introduces a cast of some of the strongest female characters in all of literature. As a result, it has quickly become one of my favourites; and who knows — if you give it a chance, it might become one of yours, too.
What’s it about?
Written in 1875 after Anthony Trollope returned to England following a two-year trip to Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, The Way We Live Now is a powerful satire of English politics, speculative finance, and society. Originally intended to be a novel about the Carbury family before it morphed into something far grander, The Way We Live Now opens by introducing the reader to the enterprising Lady Carbury who is single-handedly attempting to support her two adult children, Sir Felix and Hetta, through the publication and self-promotion of her first book, a facetiously titled work called Criminal Queens. Throughout the pages that follow, the lives of Lady Carbury and her children, along with those they are connected with, become intertwined with the towering figure of the novel, Augustus Melmotte: financier, aspiring politician, — and swindler.
As we watch as Melmotte’s rise and fall, we gain a new perspective on themes that range from corruption to the role of women in society and the secret world of the family behind closed doors. While it may have been written over one hundred and forty years ago, its masterly presentation of timeless themes and characters makes The Way We Live Now a novel of our own age as much as it is a novel of English society in the early 1870s.
I went into The Way We Live Now with high expectations; however, it would seem that my expectations were not high enough! I’ve read many novels history holds up as “great,” but I can count on one hand the novels that I personally consider to be “masterpieces.” This, I am pleased to say, is one of them. Having previously seen the excellent 2001 miniseries starring David Suchet as Augustus Melmotte, I was already aware of the plot and knew that I would appreciate most of the themes Trollope explores. Although the first hundred pages is somewhat slow while the large cast of characters is introduced (we follow the stories of over ten main characters, in addition to numerous lesser characters), by the half-way point it became so gripping — even though I already knew the plot! — that it would be best described as a “page turner.”
More surprising than this, I hadn’t been expecting to feel quite so emotionally connected to several of the main characters. Trollope deals with difficult subject matter, including emotional and physical abuse, and there were times when I felt so drained that I needed to give myself a break before continuing. Related to this, it’s rare that I come out of a book naming one of the females as my favourite character. It is rarer still that I find a “strong” female character so realistically formed that I am willing to consider her one of my favourite female characters of all time. So you can imagine my delight when I found just such a character in The Way We Live Now.
In order to discuss these subjects in more detail, unfortunately I need to verge into spoiler territory. As a result, this will be a somewhat unusual book blog as I will be ending the spoiler-free section of my thoughts here, and then continuing my discussion (spoilers included) under the link, which also includes a discussion of the themes I feel the novel shares with the Alienist books. If you have not read the book but are interested enough at this point to give it a try, I encourage you to do so and come back to read the rest of my thoughts later to see if you agree with me. However, if you have already read the novel, or don’t care about being spoiled, then by all means read on! | Continue reading →
In an exclusive with Entertainment Weekly, it was revealed this morning that Caleb Carr will be returning to the Alienist series. Mulholland Books have announced that they will be publishing two new Alienist novels that will act as ‘bookends’ for the two current novels in the series, The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness.
The first of the two new novels will be set 18 years after The Angel of Darkness, in New York City of 1915. Josh Kendall, VP, Executive Editor, and Editorial Director of Mulholland Books explained that this book, “set against a stage of rising nationalist violence and the early spy state,” is “centered on nativist violence and terrorism during America’s involvement in World War I.”
The second of the novels will take us back in time again, presumably to the late 1870s or early 1880s (assuming the events in the summary from the publisher’s press release matches the timeline already established in the series so far). In this novel, titled The Strange Case of Miss Sara X, “a youthful Kreizler, after finishing his psychology training at Harvard, falls under the spell of William James, has his first run-in with Roosevelt, and delves into the secret life of Sara Howard, heroine of the first books.”
For those of us who have wondered if there would ever be a third novel, official confirmation of two new Alienist novels is something to be excited about! However, the wait need not be arduous; we are also lucky enough to have Caleb Carr’s upcoming contemporary thriller Surrender, New York to look forward to! If you haven’t already done so, I recommend reading more about the novel and pre-order before its release on August 23.
The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) Montreal has listed The Alienist TV series on their “What’s Shooting” pre-production list, indicating that Montreal will be getting transformed into 1896 New York City for the series. The listing also indicates that shooting will be taking place in summer this year. While this is clearly an interesting development, it is not altogether unexpected: Montreal has doubled as New York City in a number of films recently, including Brooklyn (2015) and The Walk (2015). You can see the Québec Film and Television Council photos offering Montreal as a shooting location to represent early 20th century New York City here.
Wherever and whenever they are shooting, let’s hope that the script is being reworked before it takes place. For any Alienist readers who did not see the post about the audition recordings surfacing, the excerpts revealed that significant changes were made in the scenes read during casting, both to the characters and the plot. To learn more, you can view the original post here.
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Caleb Carr’s CFA Master Class
As I’m sure all visitors would be aware, The Alienist TV series premiered last week. For those of you who are new to The Alienist, I strongly recommend reading along … Read More