Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tribute to Elizabeth Gaskell Part II-Victorian Fashion

The inspiration for this post came partly from the excitement about Elizabeth Gaskell's 200th birthday and partly from the posting on Vic's blog Jane Austen Today where she posted a beautiful Youtube Regency fashion montage by PiepMiau04.
This talented German woman puts music and fashion images together in a sensory feast.  So sit back and relax while Mozart's Piano Concerto No.23 and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata transport you to another era.
Instead of the gorgeous Regency dresses on Vic's blog, I have given you some amazing Victorian dresses reminiscent of what was worn in Elizabeth Gaskell's time.  So picture Margaret Hale from North and South or the girls from The Buccaneers or even Romola Garai's character Gwendolyn from Daniel Deronda who all had some pretty amazing Victorian costumes.  Oh, and I can't forget the adaptation of Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now for some of the best Victorian dresses I have ever seen.
If you want the full size video, just click on the center of the Youtube video and expand it by clicking in the right corner.  I am still trying to get the hang of this blogging so my page doesn't look quite as pretty as Vic's yet!
Again, Happy Birthday to Elizabeth Gaskell to whom I feel a special kinship as some of my ancestors worked in the mills of Manchester at the time she was writing.  It is one of the many, many reasons I love North and South.
North & SouthDaniel DerondaThe BuccaneersThe Way We Live NowThe Young VictoriaCranford: The Collection (Cranford / Return to Cranford)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

North & South Location in honour of Elizabeth Gaskell's 200th Birthday!

If there are any fans of the 2005 BBC adaptation of North and South, and I know you are out there, you will recognize this location as the park where Margaret meets Bessie and Nicholas Higgins and there is also a scene with Mr. Thornton walking through this park.  They added some grave stones in the adaptation which were just props.
If you are ever in Edinburgh, Scotland, you will be able to walk through this park (Calton Hill) as I did with my husband, AKA the Squire, in the summer of 2009.  It looks very bleak in this photo, much as it was for the moody shots portraying the gloom of Milton/Manchester for North & South.  The structure which makes this location so recognizable is the Dugald Stewart Memorial.
If anyone knows the street that they used in Edinburgh for the Hale's house or the one used for the Higgins house, please leave a comment and let us know.  Then maybe we can find someone in or near Edinburgh to photograph it for us so we can see what it looks like without all of the Victorian props.  It probably looks quite different, unlike this view which only required a little CGI for the skyline and a few Victorian looking gravestones.

Well, Happy 200th Birthday to Mrs. Gaskell and if you haven't seen this or read the book, you must do so now.  Trust me.

Addendum: I have just had a comment from Phoebe (see below) which is directing me to the site of for their assistance, as the locations for North and South have been well researched by fans.  Yay!  Thanks for your help Phoebe.  Here is the link for those interested in the locations for North and South, including the ones in Edinburgh.
Now, any volunteers in the UK to take photos of these locations?

North & SouthNorth and South

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Colin Firth the fan fave at TIFF for The King's Speech

Well I have to admit I was skeptical about Colin Firth's new film.  After all, the topic of a friendship between Queen Elizabeth's father Bertie (aka King George VI) and his Australian speech therapist, hired to help with his stutter, seemed a little unlikely to be a box office hit.  But it is getting Oscar buzz as the latest Slumdog Millionaire breakout hit of the Toronto International Film Festival.  And Colin had Toronto eating out of his hand at the TIFF premiere for "The King's Speech".

Colin Firth has seduced Toronto and it's film critics.  I was in the big city for a wedding on Sept 10 and all the papers were atwitter with Colin Firth and his 50th birthday celebrations in Toronto during the festival.  There were some rather humourous comparisons of his career and that of Hugh Grant who turned 50 the day before, on Sept 9.  Colin's Oscar nomination for A Single Man last year and now more Oscar buzz for The King's Speech are making Hugh's recent career choices look bad.  And Colin himself, as well as his career, is looking great especially after being touched by the Tom Ford style magic last year which now makes him look perfectly turned out for every premiere.  Colin responded to being asked about his Bridget Jones nemesis with the statement : "I'm still younger than that old bugger!"

About a Boy (Movie Tie-In)And then there is Hugh Grant, a perpetual Peter Pan, who has now actually turned into his character from About a Boy.  Really, could they have cast that role any better?  But that film was from 2002.  Now his latest offering of Did You Hear About the Morgans? stunk so badly you can still smell it from here in Waterloo.  He used to do Rom/Com brilliantly but perhaps his heart isn't in it anymore.  I hope Hugh Grant's best work is not behind him, but he really seems to be on autopilot.  Even the enjoyable Music and Lyrics from 2007 didn't quite have the energy it could have (although the dancing was hilarious).

But for Colin Firth, everything he touches these days turns to gold.   Colin's wife in this (The Queen Mum) is played by Helena Bonham Carter, who although not my fave actress is getting good reviews for her Elizabeth.  Actually I have to say that her film Lady Jane from 1986 with Carey Elwes (Westley from Princess Bride) is well worth watching if you can find it.  Her Lady Jane Grey will break your heart.

And Geoffrey Rush is cast as the Australian speech therapist who uses some unorthodox methods to achieve his wonderful results helping lifelong stutterers.  His wife is portrayed by Jennifer Ehle, whom I am dying to see on the screen with her co-star from Pride and Prejudice.  I mean, not only did they do the best ever screen portrayal of Lizzy and Darcy, but they had a little fling of their own during filming.  Surely this was responsible for that amazing on screen chemistry.  In any case, you know where I will be on the weekend of 10 Dec.  Anyone else excited about this one?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mom's homework-Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two CitiesMy son asked me to buy him a copy of A Tale of Two Cities for his Grade 11 English class today.  Do they not use libraries anymore?  However, with the selfish reason of wanting to read it after him and add it to my classics library, we went out tonight and bought it (plus I got a Grande Tazo Chai from Starbucks, so it was a win/win).  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

While sipping my Chai latte, I had a conversation with my husband about whether or not our son should be allowed to watch the movie first or whether he should at least try reading the book first.  I love to watch the film version of these classic novels first and then go and read the book, so why not let our son?   Of course, the main reason would be that he might use the film version to write his essay and not read the book at all, or not very thoroughly.  But I thought I would look into the versions available on film first.

A Tale of Two CitiesOn the left we have the American version from 1980, clocking in at 162 minutes and starring Chris Sarandon (Susan's ex and the bad Prince Humperdinck from the classic Princess Bride.  This one seems to have fairly good reviews, and got a respectable rating of 6.7 from IMDb.  It also stars Peter Cushing, Nigel Hawthorne and Alice Krige (Lady Russell in the 2007 ITV Persuasion).  Comments on Amazon and IMDb are OK, but not overwhelming.

A Tale of Two Cities (Masterpiece Theatre, 1989)Here we have the UK/French version from 1989.  Slightly longer at 197 minutes and by most accounts slightly more true to the book (not always a good thing but usually so), this one is slightly higher rated at 7.3 on the IMDb scale.  Comments seem to be either loving or hating this version.  Hmmmm....

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)     This brings me to one i didn't really consider at first.  The 1935 version with Ronald Colman seem to be beloved and one of the best films of the 1930's.  It is rated 7.9 at IMDb which is very high for that site.  At 126 minutes it is the shortest of the 3 but seems to be highly praised for how well it condenses it.

When I started writing this I thought I would get the most recent version, but this classic from 1935 is the one I will order.

Now I will have to see how he does with the book.  I think I may save the film for when he gets part way through the book and his interest starts to flag.  I look forward to curling up with him on a cool rainy afternoon in October and watching a classic book in classic film form.  And then I get the book after him!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dressing up and Northanger Abbey

"Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half."

This quotation is from a conversation (in Northanger Abbey) during a walk to Beechen Cliff in Bath, between Henry Tilney, his sister Eleanor and Catherine Morland, our heroine who is rather smitten with Henry Tilney.  Henry loves to tease his sister and here, Miss Morland  gets to know the way in which he banters with his sister, and all those to whom he is close.

"Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter."

Well, this is why Jane Austen's writing has endured.  It is just so damned funny and so relevant even 200 years later.

With respect to my own Regency finery for the JASNA gathering in Portland in October:

This is the back view of the dress which just arrived from England and doesn't need any alterations (yay!) so in celebration, I spent an entire $6.99 on this silver amethyst cross pendant to go with it.  Not exactly Regency in style, but fairly close.  Now I have to work on shoes.  I think that some pink ballet slippers would be a good choice for under this dress, and I could use them as slippers after.  Anyone with any thoughts on what would make a historically correct but also reasonably priced and comfortable shoe to go with this outfit, please post a comment below.  I am also wondering whether white gloves are just going too far, or should I go for it?

On to other matters, I have nearly finished the book Northanger Abbey again to get into the spirit of the JASNA  gathering in Portland, Oregon in October.  I am saving the latest film version of Northanger Abbey for a stormy evening.

Well, my dear old Dad used to say that anticipation is half of the fun of a trip and he was right!



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