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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Rector's Wife


Starring: Lindsay Duncan, Ronald Pickup, Miles Anderson, Jonathan Coy, Joyce Redman, Stephen Dillane, Pam Ferris and Prunella Scales
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 05 July 2010

Anna Bouverie has long served as a priest’s wife, committed to his work and their family. But the endless rounds of community service and servility have worn away at her until she can barely feel or recognise herself. When her husband fails to gain a promotion to Archdeacon, the realisation that their poor and humble life will never change stretches her to breaking point. Tired of being a slave to the community and wishing to place her bright but bullied daughter in a fee-paying Catholic school, she takes a job in the local supermarket. As her sense of well-being rises, so the community and her husband seek to drag her back down to earth. Torn between her freedom and blind responsibility, and with the interest of more than one man to drive her on, Anna faces a crisis in faith in her marriage and what it means to be the rector’s wife...

The Rector's Wife is a four-part TV series adaptation of Joanna Trollope's 1991 novel. The series was originally screened on Channel 4 in 1994.

The story basically follows Anna Bouverie as she struggles to make ends meet after her husband, the local rector, is passed over for promotion. And when the couple's daughter is getting bullied at school Anna decides enough is enough - she'll have to get a part time job to put her daughter through private school. But doing so will mean she has less time to do the supportive, but unsalaried, full time job of a rector's wife.

As Anna strikes out on her own she finds herself once more and she starts to question her marriage, god and her sex life.

While an interesting drama, it was a bit of a disappointment that we never really got a chance to see the Bouverie family before everything gets out of hand. And, if this adaptation is to be believed, it would appear that everything was fine in the household (apart from financial worries) up until the point where Peter's promotion to Archdeacon falls through. It would seem that this is the point where Peter starts to sink into depression and Anna realises that their life is not going to ever get any better.

Even the DVD case shows a happy looking family and it's a shame that a little more wasn't made of this. Personally I feel it would have meant that the audience had more sympathy for Peter as well as Anna as they struggle through their lives.

In addition I was a little disappointed to see how two-dimensional the male characters are. We have a mad, angry husband; arrogant rich man who is a new addition to the village; sulky teenager; and intellectual mysterious stranger who we never really learn that much about.

The picture quality is also variable, and it's a shame the film print wasn't given a bit of attention before this was transferred to DVD.

On the whole, my complaints are only minor quibbles. The acting is uniformly superb, and the end result is a powerful drama.

Extras (all text based) include a Joanna Trollope biography and bibliography, as well as selected cast filmographies.


Darren Rea

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