We've been busy cleaning out rooms, making plans to replace the carpet in the kids' bedrooms but not without painting first, getting to know our new refrigerator....what? I know it sounds weird, but as a creature of habit, change throws me for a loop sometimes even a simple change like... where does the ketchup go now?
I've also been spending time reading. I've wanted to read some of Elizabeth Gaskell's works for a while now, since I love, love, LOVE the miniseries that have been made of her works. Wives and Daughters, North and South, and Cranford are all wonderful. You can get the whole collection here. If you liked DowntonAbbey, you will love these! If you like Jane Austen, you will love these! Dare I say I like Elizabeth Gaskell even better than Jane Austen? I don't know about that.
(If you have young daughters who love to watch these kinds of shows with you, Wives and Daughters has two death scenes (not graphic, of course) that might disturb sensitive children but other than that I think it is perfectly acceptable for all audiences. North and South is a little darker dealing with more deaths and a suicide and Cranford has scenes of a medical nature that I know my girls would want to skip. But they are all wonderful for grownups! If you are looking for Mr. Bates, you can find him in North and South. Oh and Carson can be found hanging out in Cranford while Isobel takes to her sick bed in Wives and Daughters.
Anyway, I did something ridiculous. I blame Downton withdrawals. Knowing full well that Gaskell died before she could finish her last and possibly best piece of work, Wives and Daughters, I decided to start with that novel first. Uh huh. I know. Remember the warning from above?
I love this story and I knew she didn't finish the novel. I wanted to know how much of the story I knew (from the miniseries) was her story and how much was conjecture. So I started reading and I was trucking along and pleasantly surprised to see how close to the original Andrew Davies stayed. Exact dialogue in most cases, only a few changes of location, a minor timeline jump and it was getting very far into the story, very close to the end, and my percentage at the bottom of the screen started creeping up to 90%, 93%, 95% completed (I use a Kindle app on my phone) and the story was still following the same path I was familiar with. I was getting excited thinking, "Wow, I can't believe she got this far!" and then...
...it just ended.
Right smack in the middle of a chapter.
And I was so... disappointed.
Kind of like this...
I don't know what I was expecting! Maybe I thought she had written the ending I knew from the movie and then started to write more and didn't get to finish it. Nope.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! SKIP THIS IF YOU DON"T WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING!
She wrote the scene where Roger waves to Molly and Mrs. Gibson in the rain. She wrote how he's going to miss the coach, so Mrs. Gibson sends him on his way and how Molly follows him around to the attic window and he turns to wave one last time. She wrote all that drivel about Mrs. Gibson's beau Lieutenant Harper and then...
Roger goes to back to stinking Africa.
No romantic run through the rain. No departing coach with all of Molly's hopes and dreams dashed like the puddle it splashed through on it's way out of town. No dripping wet Roger pouring his heart out to our Molly with sheets of raindrops bouncing off his face and overcoat. No.
He goes back to Africa for 6 months. Cynthia has gotten married and is on her honeymoon in France. Molly and Mrs. Gibson are talking about the letters they have received from her and what she has promised to bring for them and then... The End. AND I KNEW THIS BEFORE I STARTED READING and yet I sat there so dejected.
I frantically searched for some clue as to how Mrs. Gaskell wanted the story to end. All I could find was via Wikipedia, so you know, not the most reliable source. It said she related to a friend her intention to have Roger return from Africa and present Molly with a dried rose, the one she plucked from the nosegay and gave to him before she left Hamley Hall. It was supposed to be a sign of his enduring love for her. So that satisfied me a bit. But not much. So here I sit and stew.
Seriously... why did I do this to myself? I blame it on Downton and sleep deprivation.
If you love these stories, like I do, feel free to tell me about your favorite part in the combox.
Ha ha...very funny post. I followed right along...you never lost me. But I've recently seen all these movies and loved them. Loved the scene of which you speak...except I wanted them to go in from the rain. And I hated that she went to Africa only because I wanted her to go to the beautiful English countryside. =)ReplyDelete
I loved North and South, loved Cranford and just finished Return to Cranford. Love Judi Dench.
Enjoyed He Knew He Was Right as well as Bleak House and The Way We Live Now.
Now I'm on to Larkrise to Candleford in which you will also find Mr. Bates, and Jessie from Cranford and Charlotte from Pride and Prejudice (2005). I love seeing these actors over and over, to see how similar or different they are in each role.
My kids think I am an anglophile. I think it's just good clean (mostly) entertainment.
Aren't you glad you asked? ;-)
Larkrise was delightful! Cranford was good, but not one of my favorites although Dame Judi is.Delete
I read Wives and Daughters a while back and thought it ended rather abruptly. I enjoyed the reading, but I didn't start another of hers because of that. I'm glad to know it was unfinished and her other titles are worthwhile!ReplyDelete
Oh my, I love Downton and all the Gaskell miniseries! I recently read Cranford because it was one of those beautiful clothbound new Penguin editions and I liked it, but honestly....i'm loathe to confess it...I like the miniseries better! I don't know if I'm ready to say that Mrs. Gaskell surpasses Ms. Austen...but she is certainly very fine. I think I want to read North and South next. I recently re-watched the film and it. is. just. so. good.ReplyDelete
I'm having the same reaction to North and South. I think the movie flows better than the book.Delete
I have a theory that, because Mrs. Gaskell wrote her stories as a series for magazines, she just kept on going to keep getting her paycheck. We probably would have had to suffer through all six months of Roger's return to Africa before she would have relieved us anyway! Be prepared for much more straying from the original with North and South. I thought that the screenwriter took some liberties with character traits and the ending is a little different. I actually liked the book better, though, and I really loved the miniseries. Having read both writers, Mrs. Gaskell doesn't stack up to Miss Austen in the long run, although I think her characters are thoroughly likeable.ReplyDelete
How funny! You know. Dickens was also a serial writer but I've never really enjoyed his works. They are so dark. Gaskell has a nice mix of light and dark.Delete
I want to read alll of these books. I feel like a sad loser that I can't wait for Sept when Downton comes back - I need a life. But, good TV that won't hurt my soul is so rare!ReplyDelete
Just finished watching John Galsworthy Forsyte Saga I (not for kids at all). A wonderful film with ambiguous, interesting characters and an ending that I think is one of the finest in all film. It has a wonderful "babies as a symbol of redemption" theme, which is pretty much the theme life has anyway, right? There is also much exploration into what marriage means to different people as a financial, social, and spiritual arrangement.ReplyDelete
I had never realized that Galsworthy's trilogy had become a film, many times, in fact. I was worn out on the bonnet dramas and thought I had watched everything three times. I was pleased to find something of such quality that I had never heard of.
I, too, saw the Forsyte Saga but was turned off by the violent bedroom scenes. Such great characters and relationships -- I really wish they had not used those scenes.Delete
I watched The Forsyte Saga a few years ago and I remember hating the way it disturbed me because of those scenes and the actor who played Soames. I loathed him! Years later, I loved watching Damien Lewis in Life but didn't realize until rewatching The Forsyte Saga here recently that HE PLAYED SOAMES!!!Delete
I read North and South after I saw the movie. I usually think the books are much better than the movies made from them, but in this case I thought the movie was better. It was more cohesive (N and S was written in serial form for a magazine). I think there was even a disclaimer by Gaskell, saying that if she had written it originally as a book it would have been much different. I thought the book was too melodramatic (probably again because it was in serial form and each installment had to hook the reader for the next issue). Margaret was much too weepy in the book - I was getting impatient with her. I enjoyed the strong Margaret of the movie better.ReplyDelete
I am reading N & S now and I have to agree. It's got flow problems. I wish she had had a chance to write it the way she wanted to.Delete
And I totally agree that she is very weepy in the book.Delete
Agree! N & S is an awesome movie--not incredibly fond of the book. My husband loves N & S too (says there's enough "guy stuff" in it). I could gush about it, but I already did here if you are interested: http://teasready.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/music-on-a-winters-night/Delete
I agree with you, Charlotte, about the end of W&D, but I love the book so much I have been known to finish it, then flip back and start over again. I do the same thing with Mansfield Park.
I meant to add that my husband who is not a fan of Austenish books, watched N and S and thought the most moving scene was when Thorton is watching Margaret get into the coach to leave Milton and he mumurs, "Turn around and look at me" (or something like that). I knew then that my husband is a romantic at heart.ReplyDelete
Awwwww! That is a great scene. Richard Armitage has such a commanding presence!Delete