Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wives and Daughters

I have seen Cranford, Cranford 2, and North and South based on Elizabeth Gaskell's works and I'm now glad to say that I've seen Wives and Daughters.

Starring: Justine Waddell as main character Molly; Bill Paterson as her father; Francesca Annis as her stepmother (as Lady Ludlow in Cranford); Keeley Hawes as her stepsister Cynthia (also Fancy Day in Under the Greenwood Tree, which I loved); Tom Hollander as a potential love interest (Mr. Collins and Lord Cutler Beckett); Anthony Howell as the hero; Michael Gambon as their father (DUMBLEDORE!); and Rosamund Pike as Lady Harriet (Jane in 2005 P&P) among other familiar faces.

Now that we've covered the fantastic cast. I'm not sure I can write a short summary but a big theme is obviously relationships between women as the stepmother has difficult ones with her stepdaughter and daughter and like Cranford, this is a world filled with women (I think that's part of Gaskell's appeal-she wrote many different kinds of women instead of say Dickens' boring female creations). Another theme is prejudices, especially anti-French and Catholic as expressed by Michael Gambon's character; it's very obvious and distasteful.

Another theme is love, naturally. Molly falls in love with Roger but he is dazzled by the beautiful Cynthia. Gaskell died before finishing this book but Andrew Davies constructed a lovely ending that I found satisfying.

One pet peeve I had with this specific version I watched was that it didn't have subtitles. This is especially important to me when a film's words are important and/or there are accents; this miniseries has both. It is four episodes long, each about seventy-five minutes.

I watched this with my mom and we're both planning to read the book as soon as we can get our hands on it. It's another fantastic Elizabeth Gaskell/BBC collaboration!


  1. Great review! I have seen this series about 5 times now.;) I just had to buy the DVD and it's a really delightful and insightful series. I'm glad you liked it. Elizabeth Gaskell is great. It is my intention to read "North and South" by her. Funny enough, the only book by Gaskell I have read is her biography of the Brontes. Go figure.;)

  2. What did you think of the Bronte biography? I've heard positive things about it but I've never read it myself.

  3. I personally loved it. It is very detailed, and since I am a fan of the Bronte sisters, I appreciated such insight into their lives. It is a biography, but the writing style is still very flowing. The biograpgy covers the entire family, not just the three sisters, but also the brother, the father, the maid the sisters were close to etc. and makes connections to their works, how their lives reflected in the sisters' novels. It's a great biography, I definitely recommend it.


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