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This review is for the iPad version of the Chronicals, or at least one story from it. I purchased all three stories for my iPad, so I could read them on the go: Mr. Harrison's Confession, Cranford, and My Lady Ludlow. This review specifically involves My Lady Ludlow. Though, as I've said, I cannot fault the miniseries in any way (it was sheer delight), if it had a weak point that would be the characterization of Lady Ludlow. She was portrayed as a strong willed woman, though a wounded soul, which is correct, but she was something less than completely sympathetic. Her decision to deny education to a young boy seemed arbitrary and mean spirited. The implication seemed to be that she was aristocratic, and that pride was her main motivation there. Reading the original story gives a much clearer picture of her motivations, making her a much more sympathetic character. She wants to do right, she has merely misjudged due to her unusual experiences. Both versions of the story (the miniseries & the original) are well executed, but I think the book is better. It gives us a unique vision that is lacking in the miniseries, which frankly has fallen into the easier route of cliched motivations here. Gaskell's version is well worth the read.
Oh, and did I mention the addition of a comical character, who made me laugh out loud repeatedly? Yes, it is touching and humourous as well, like all great British Literature. Enjoy.
Nothing much happens, but still, My Lady Ludlow manages, somehow, to retain interest. It is a well-done and detailed look at the period, somewhere around 1810. Clothes, furnishings, manners...even the crazy idea of educating farmworkers children, are described for us in delicious detail. Nothing much happens, but hey, I love Pride & Prejudice and it's not exactly "Breaking Bad" in terms of action. Just a little window into how people lived.
If you enjoyed Gaskell's Cranford novels, or her Wives and Daughters (even better), you'll enjoy this dainty little book. It deserves a couple of hours and a cup of really good tea in a very pretty china cup. Indulge. It can't kill ya.
The story is narrated by one Margaret Dawson, a distant and poor relative of Lady Ludlow, who is offered the chance to be properly raised as a gentlewoman. Margaret is witness to a series of episodes involving different people in the village, whose lives all seem eventually to intersect in the person of Lady Ludlow. The Lady Ludlow, despite her attachment to old ways, is too kind and too sensible not to do the right thing for her friends, employees, and tenants. Her dispute with her steward, for example, weaves through most of the book, before being resolved by a decisive act of kindness by the steward that saves Lady Ludlow and the young boy. This and other story twists that brings her to the right thing are often told with humor but filled with acute insight into human nature.
Gaskell has captured the genuine push and pull of real people trying to adapt to changing times. Her insights are honest ones; there are no heroes or villains, only real people dealing with real life. The Lady Ludlow's prejudice against education, for example, are given a plausible basis in a hair-raising and ultimately tragic story about two refugees from the French Revolution whom the Lady attempts to help. Gaskell has captured the flavor and texture of a by-gone era in "My Lady Ludlow."
Some of the characters and episodes from "My Lady Ludlow" were adapted into the BBC/Masterpiece Theater presentation "Cranford." "My Lady Ludlow" is highly recommended to fans of Masterpiece Theater as the rest of the story and as a fine example of Elizabeth Gaskell's work.
I happen to like the era very much and was pleased to see that "Mrs." Gaskell was a contemporary of John Ruskin, Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte (in fact wrote her biography).
The staid progression (some may term it plodding) kept my attention as it dealt with issues of social class, aristocracy, religious and political views of the times.
There were a number of errors which I could not discern whether they were British variants (offence, skilful, vulgarising), typos: coarse for course, sweet woodroof for woodruff, ancle for ankle, n'er do weel for well or simply transliteration problems by volunteers for the Gutenberg Project.
I found the text to encompass numerous issues of the times with observations on social strata, role of women, and education among the perceived inferior classes. The quaint verbiage and old-fashioned morals were definitely a sign of the times.
I enjoyed the foray into times past but was mildly aghast at the whirlwind wrap-up at the end of the book.
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