Book & Film Pairings, Edition 5

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! Today’s post features an absolute FAVORITE Victorian miniseries and three books with similar themes or settings. I’m talking about North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and the ultimate BBC miniseries adaptation from 2004 starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Like the novel by Gaskell, each of these books I’ve chosen have an English setting, romance thread, and similarities to the classic, yet I would recommend them as unique stories with vibrant characters of their own.

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

North and South series by BBC, original novel by Elizabeth Gaskell

This work contrasts society, economics, and family bonds through the eyes of its hero and heroine. More than just a romance, I appreciate how the novel and series dive deeper into social problems of the times and the difference one person, or one business owner, can make in the lives of even a small group of people. The romance progresses slowly as outside factors bring the hero and heroine together, begrudgingly at times, then to finally see through each other’s eyes the world around them. I especially love the book’s POV of Mr. Thornton, as I feel he is better understood in that context than his brooding persona in the series.

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson

This Victorian story is mostly set in Manchester and its hero is the owner of a successful cotton mill, much like Mr. Thornton. The backgrounds and contrasts of the protagonists are similar, too, but beyond that, it paints a poignant story of healing and purpose. The couple are married for most of the story, so that makes for emotional glimpses into their life and challenges, and, a unexpectedly sweet romance.

Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind by Carla Kelly

This Regency story has parallels in the name “Milton” and in the societal clash of the hero and heroine. Like Margaret of N&S, Miss Milton has a demanding family that pulls her in many directions. My favorite aspect of this story is how her friendship with the hero is very encouraging. She learns courage and standing up for herself as the story progresses yet doesn’t waver from her initial character.

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight cover

I couldn’t leave this last Christmas novella off the list! A Holiday by Gaslight ticks all the boxes for a Victorian Christmas story: decorating the country estate, plenty of mistletoe, a cozy library, and a sparkling romance. The initial misconceptions of the hero and heroine are nods to N&S, as are the ways they find common values and intellect once they look past superficiality. Author Mimi Matthews is a pro and this novella is a fantastic introduction to her stories!

Are you a fan of North and South? Do you have book recommendations similar to this classic? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Binge Watching “Persuasion” Adaptations

Last weekend, I watched the two most recent movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Watching them back-to-back was an unexpected thing! I found the 1995 version at a great thrift store, so I decided to watch it first and follow with the newer one, from 2007, in a few weeks. My mom was enthusiastic after the credits rolled on the 1995, and we decided to watch the next one over the weekend, too.

A little about the two films: the 1995 Persuasion stars Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth. The 2007 Persuasion stars Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot and Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth. Both were originally made for British television and both filmed on location in the countryside, Lyme, and Bath.

I recommend either version, as both do a excellent job adapting the beloved Austen novel. Some things were more distinctly likable in each one, yet I find they have enough differences to make them both watchable for their own merit.

~a brief comparison (or, reasons to watch both of these ASAP~

Cinematography: Both have sweeping English views, coastal visits, and on-location filming. The 1995 version, however, takes its time a bit with the storyline and the scenery, allowing for slightly more contemplative shots. The 2007 has tighter framing on the cast, so the emotions are at the forefront in many of their interactions.

Supporting characters: Vibrant! I find a little more empathy and understanding for Anne’s family in the 1995, while the 2007 periphery cast showcases more faults and annoyances. Either way, I can’t believe Anne puts up with them so gently! In both cases, I LOVE the Crofts.

Protagonist casting: I like the protagonist casting of both adaptations. I think the Amanda and Ciarán of the 1995 suit the more reserved, subdued tones of the story — the passion is still there, just under the surface. Sally and Rupert as Anne and Wentworth in the 2007 do an admirable job, especially in the asides Anne has toward the camera which mirror the narrator of the novel itself. But when it comes to the two Captains side by side, I must choose Rupert Penry-Jones as the most handsome Wentworth!

The endings: *Spoiler Alert* each suits the story build-up. 1995’s Anne is to have her first adventure and chance to see the world, as she has expressed desire to do, with her place now as the Captain’s wife on a ship. Perhaps the sweeter ending, to me, is that of the 2007 with what appears to be “home” settled: Wentworth has acquired Anne’s home estate, Kellynch. From Anne’s sad and frazzled appearance in the beginning, and her having to step away from home, this brings closure and a sense of a happy future with Wentworth’s gift. I appreciate that Austen’s original ending left the characters in a happy situation together with an open-ended future, and both adaptations had freedom to depict what that looks like.

For more about Austen’s Persuasion here on the blog, check out my post with Favorite Quotes from “Persuasion” from a few years ago!

Have you read or watched one of these adaptations? Which is your favorite?

Wednesday Wonderings, edition 4

It’s another “Wednesday Wonderings” question!

Wednesday Wonderings

What are your favorite book to film adaptations?

And by film, let’s say that miniseries count, too. From YA to classics, and everything in between, what works do you think have been adapted closely or the best?

Some book-to-movie adaptations are perfect, and some are just “visual aids” for their books. Here are a few that I think did an excellent job staying close to the book, or their adaptation interpreted the book in a way I LOVED.wpid-photogrid_1428888927817.jpg

Pride & Prejudice (2005 movie with Keira Knightley) One of my absolute favorite movies! Great cinematography, casting, and concise script to fit a movie time slot.

Little Women (1994 with Winona Ryder) The best story about sisters.

North & South (BBC miniseries, 2004) You knew this one would make my list, right? Such awesomeness in one series.

The Hunger Games (2012) Yes, I admit, I am a fan of Jennifer Lawrence. It stayed fairly close to the original book, too.

Emma (BBC miniseries, 2009) Maybe a little more idealistic than Austen’s book, but definitely a fabulous interpretation.

Occasionally, the book is significantly better than the movie. I think that’s the case with The Last Song (2010). The book had much more likable characters and more depth.

What are your thoughts? Do you have favorite adaptations (or maybe some not-so-favorite?)?