Friday, December 10, 2010

Must Watch Friday - Wives and Daughters

This week PHS editor Donna Alward returns to the land of Mrs. Gaskell for a guilty pleasure: the WIVES AND DAUGHTERS miniseries!

One of the things my husband and I have done is sign up for Netflix through our Wii. Granted, the Wii television doesn’t have as nice a picture as our family room tv, but that is okay. So far we’ve really enjoyed having it and it has been worth the sign up fee. The girls have been enjoying The Pink Panther. I have watched a few movies, and the husband and I watched the entire first season of Justifed – Anne McAllister blogged about this series earlier this year and I have wanted to watch it ever since. We loved it.

But I was very excited to see Wives and Daughters on the menu, as I have wanted to watch it for a very long time and this sort of thing doesn’t happen to be re-run a lot. So the last week of November I curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine and dove into another of Elizabeth Gaskell’s worlds.

Wives and Daughters is far more “Cranford-ish” than “North and South-ish”, and could just as easily been called Fathers and Sons come to think of it. Several of the cast are actors from both series, and a veritable who’s who of British adaptation acting. I was very excited to see George Paterson on the list as I love his accent, his wry smile and kind face. And while I have to admit Keely Hawes didn’t exactly do it for me as Molly, there was one character I adored most unexpectedly – Osborne.

Tom Hollander played Osborne and I will confess that I never in a million years thought I would see Hollander in a role where I found him irresistible – but I did here.

There are several stories at work – Mr. Gibson and his new wife, her daughter Cynthia and the enigmatic Mr. Preston, Roger and Molly, and Osborne. I haven’t paired him up in the description because Osborne is perhaps, from a character standpoint, the most complicated because there is more than one relationship in his storyline – and I think that is perhaps why I loved it.

There is his relationship with his brother – Roger, for starters. No matter what is going on, they are close confidantes, never bearing each other jealousy. Then there is the relationship with Osborne’s secret wife, a Frenchwoman who was “in service” when they met and therefore deemed unsuitable as a wife to the Squire’s heir. And most importantly is the relationship between Osborne and his father, Squire Hamley, played by Michael Gambon. You cannot help but ache for both of them. Every time Osborne thinks of telling his father the truth, his father makes it so clear that he must marry suitably. The squire constantly berates Osborne as squandering money and being a disappointment, but all the while Osborne is traveling back and forth to France to see his wife and is “squandering” his money to support them. The ante is upped when Aimee becomes pregnant and Osborne becomes ill. Osborne is a gorgeous character because he is willing to suffer his father’s censure to protect his wife, who he clearly loves and that censure cuts him deeply. He is so noble and was easily my favourite character. Roger was a great hero, but he never truly suffered. He just had to come to his senses and see what was right under his nose.

The other favourite character for me was Preston. Painted as the villain of the piece, he really wasn’t. Alpha from start to finish, I think he truly loved Cynthia and his letting her go spoke of a growth of character. But in my opinion what Preston needed was a good woman to tame him and bring him to his knees. None of the silly Cynthias to flirt and jilt. Preston needs someone to go toe to toe with him and not let him off with his tricks. Inside Preston is a man who loves passionately. All he needs is a good woman to make him stand to!

If you liked Cranford, you will love this too. I’m ever so glad I watched it! Even if it did mean a few scenes where I had to sniffle a little...or a lot...

Donna's latest release is Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle, out in Australia and New Zealand in January and available via the Mills and Boon Australia website beginning Dec. 1! It'll be out in North America in February...


  1. Wives and Daughters is the current Radio 4 drama. You can catch up with the whole series on BBC iplayer (and because it's radio, you can listen anywhere in the world - only the TV is restricted to the UK). Wonderful to listen to while doing the housework.

  2. Donna,
    We love Wives and Daughters in my house. Roger is our favorite, because of Foyle's War. I don't care for Osborne, though I like your analysis of his character. I like Preston, as well.
    It's hard to like Dr. Gibson's new wife, but doesn't she do a great job with the part? Definitely different from her ladyship role in Cranford.
    Great post

  3. ros - I don't often listen to the Beeb, though I have been known to now and again!

    Carol, Roger is the man you would want to marry. Osborne is the tortured, complicated hero, and I think perhaps my writer's mind responded to that!

    I haven't seen Foyle's War!