*Addictive: The Camomile Lawn, a TV adaptation by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and British TV's daring independent Channel 4 of Mary Wesley's sprawling novel about an extended family and intricate sexual liaisons before, during, and after World War II, is thrilling, seductive stuff, even if its characters and their values are as unusual to average North American tastes as garlic snails, and rabbit in mustard sauce.
Or maybe not. The complicated sexual pairings - twins who become their cousin's simultaneous lovers after her husband is killed; a gentrified couple (Felicity Kendal and Paul Eddington) who, after years of convenient marriage, agree to swap partners with a brilliant German Jewish concert violinist (Oliver Cotton) and his flaxen-haired Bavarian hausfrau (Trudy Weiss), both deemed suspicious aliens by the Establishment; the lingering passion between a thwarted lover and a much younger and very damaged girl who pushed a coast guard watcher over a Cornish cliff because he threatened her with his "pink snake" - would be unbelievable (except, perhaps, in Hollywood) if the pressures of war, and longing suppressed by the British class system, weren't so well preserved as central elements of this extraordinary script.
I couldn't begin to explain the convoluted threads of this addictive, five-part TV saga, which premieres in CBC-TV's "adult zone" tomorrow at 11 p.m., except to suggest that the feel, scent and location of the camomile lawn in the title are key to understanding all the mysteries and psycho-sexual intrigue in the plot.
Claire Bloom, Jennifer Ehle, and Tara Fitzgerald also star.
Brother, Austrian, brunette. Five points for enthusiasm, though.