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Life in Squares review: ‘absurd, beautiful characters in a ridiculously golden world’


Art, literature, exquisite interiors and copious copulation – do try to keep up with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set

If only their passions had been as muted as their palettes – how different life could have been for the Bloomsbury set. By the end of the opening episode of Life in Squares(BBC2), the three-part dramatisation of the Stephen-Bell-Strachey-Keynes-Sackville-Woolf lot’s attempts to fit their life into their art, their art into their life and their genitals into anyone who was passing through WC1, we had had two deaths, at least four affairs (depending whose terms you use) and a handful of criminal assignations, all set against the most exquisitely tasteful interiors you could hope for. I don’t know how they found time to handpaint half the lampshades they did.

The drama took a certain effort of will to get into. You just have to accept that you are in a world where people convened salons, and probably did say things like “Childe Harold is a load of posturing nonsense! It can’t hold a candle to Don Juan, even if the alexandrines are forced to breaking point!” and let the pounding in your head pass.

Related: A century later, why do we still kneel at the shrine of the Bloomsbury set? | Zoe Williams

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