Saturday, September 24, 2011

Delicious Autumn!

Autumn, by George Henry Boughton. English-born American Painter, (1833-1905)

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." 
- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

I am so glad Autumn is finally on it's way! I adore everything about this harvest season! The sights, colors, smells and tastes are delicious!

What is your favorite thing about autumn? 
Is autumn your favorite season or do you prefer a different time of year?

Monday, September 19, 2011

To Be A Heroine - Dorothy Stanbury

Caroline Martin as Dolly
The other day I was re-watching Andrew Davies' 2004 adaptation of Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right (you can read my film review of this miniseries here). I was struck anew by a lovely subplot that intertwines with the main story and a supporting character who is a heroine in her own right. Allow me to tell her story...

Dorothy "Dolly" Stanbury is the youngest child in a family of three grown-up children. Since the death of her father, the vicar, she has lived with her mother and older sister Priscilla in "a little morsel of a cottage on the outskirts of the village" of Nuncombe Putney. Though they are fairly poor they are quite respectable; they try to spend every bit of their meager "70 pounds per annum" income wisely.

Stanbury Family: Mrs. Stanbury, Priscilla, Hugh and Dorothy
Dolly's older brother Hugh was well educated by their elderly rich aunt Miss Jemima Stanbury, but when Hugh starts writing for a small radical political paper his stodgy Tory aunt disinherits him. Their aunt has a kind heart and she still wants to help her poor relations so asks 26-year-old Dolly to be her live-in companion.
Independent minded Priscilla is initially against this scheme but the more tenderhearted Dolly decides to go.

Aunt Stanbury lives in a large house in the town of Wells (a fair distance from Nuncombe Putney) where she is a lady of importance. She is a bit of a patroness to the clergyman of the district Reverend Thomas Gibson and she soon singles him out as a suitor for Dolly who she plans to leave a portion of money to. Mr. Gibson is attracted to Dolly but more so to the idea of marrying this possible heiress with the rich aunt. Dolly instinctively dislikes him and when he tries to propose to her at a dinner party she puts him off. 

Mr. Gibson's Proposal is Interrupted
When he comes the next day to ask Aunt Stanbury for her niece's hand in marriage Dolly refuses him. At first Aunt Stanbury is mad at her for refusing but when Mr. Gibson's true interest of greed comes to her attention she stands beside Dolly's decision and turns the clergyman away. Aunt Stanbury even defends her niece's honor when a rumor is put about by the local French sister (admirer's of Mr. Gibson) that Dolly threw herself at the clergyman.

Matthew Goode as Brook Burgess
Aunt Stanbury's heir is the good looking and spirited Brook Burgess who has visited before Mr. Gibson proposed. Dolly sees in him qualities that she greatly admires and she can't help comparing Mr. Gibson to him. When her aunt falls ill Brook is called for again and the two young people spend quite a bit of time together. One evening Brook tells Dolly in his straight-forward way that he is in love with her and asks her to marry him. Dolly hesitates giving an answer right away because she's afraid her aunt might not approve of the match.

Anna Masses as Aunt Jemima Stanbury
Unfortunately Dolly is correct, her aunt disapproves of the match because she holds to the old-fashioned idea that she inherited her fortune wrongly from Brook's ancestor and when she dies she wants all of the money to be returned to the Burgess family without a hint that the Stanburys have profited from the fortune. Brook has no such scruples and at first Dolly agrees to a secret engagement with him which makes her aunt very angry and she sends Dolly home to her mother. Aunt Stanbury misses Dolly greatly and makes it known that she wants her to come back. Dolly goes back to her aunt and tearfully tells her she will give up the idea of marrying Brook even though she loves him deeply. After a sleepless night on both of their parts Aunt Stanbury goes to Dolly early in the morning and tells her she's seen the folly of her ways and she wants Dolly, who is dearer to her than any daughter, to be happy with Brook.

I love the sweetness of Dolly Stanbury. She's so mild mannered and tries to do what is right, but she also knows her own mind and stands up for what she believes. The love that she has for her aunt is so compelling, I cried so much when she agreed to give up Brook Burgess in order to do what her aunt thought was right. Then the complete joy when her aunt comes to her and relents filled my eyes with tears again! I love her story so much and wish it was a stand-alone book!


This is my first post in what I hope to be a series (perhaps 3-5 posts) of To Be A Heroine posts. This series is in response to Jen Corkill's challenge to post about your favorite heroines. Check out her latest posts about Jo March and Anne Elliot at her blog Victorian's Dream.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's No Fun Being Sick

Jane Bennet in Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, I've been down with a cold all week and been busy working too. I hope to have a very special post for you the beginning of next week.

I hope you're having a great weekend!

P.S. P&P photo not made my me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Worlds of Books

Two Girls Reading painted by Robert Reid
Reading a good book is delightful but when you're able to share a great story with your friends or family it's even more special. Being able to talk about the plots and characters we within the covers of our favorite books allows us to "live" in the worlds we discover.
I loved this painting, the touches are so down to earth yet exquisite at the same time.

Which worlds found in books are your favorites to visit?
Who do you love to discuss your favorite books with?

Hope you're having a great week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Which Period Drama Characters Would Be Friends?

Miss Elizabeth Bennet's Thursday post for Period Drama Week is all about which characters from period dramas would be friends. This subject was quite interesting and immediately set my head swimming with ideas  and stories about my favorite characters!

I tried to limit myself but it was a bit difficult! :)

Who Would Be Friends:


~ Eleanor Tilney & Anne Elliot ~ 
I think these sweet elegant ladies would make the dearest of friends if they were ever to cross paths. The chance of their meeting is actually rather high in many ways except that Eleanor would have been almost 20 years older than Anne Elliot who was born in 1787 (about the name time Eleanor was meeting Catherine in Bath).
How could they meet? Anne's mother was the daughter of a wealth gentleman in the county of Gloucester and Northanger Abbey was in the country of Gloucester; so if they were in the same part of Gloucester they will definitely have heard of each other's families. If their mothers had not met then it's quite likely that Anne and Eleanor might have meet when they'd both been to school in Bath. The sympathies between them would naturally be warm because they both lost their mothers at an early age, they both enjoy reading and their sweet natures are so similar! I'd just love to be friends with them too!

~ Mrs. Allen & Mrs. Forester ~
These two ladies are quite alike in my opinion, they both are talkers and I think they'd have a good time chatting, Mrs. Forester her cow and Mrs. Allen about her gowns! Both have rather sweet natures underneath their silly comments. 

Okay, I had too much fun imagining this match up:


Amy Dorrit & Fanny Price 
I find that these two heroines are quite alike in many ways! Both young ladies have very sweet temperaments. They both sacrifice their own happiness in order to serve their family member's whims. They are both kind, friendly, always act rightly and watch on while the men they love pursue other ladies less worthy than themselves. I adore both of these young ladies!

There are actually quite a few characters in Little Dorrit and Mansfield Park that are similar in personality and situation. Take a look:


Arthur Clenham & Edmund Bertram
Similar quizzical and earnest natures, with a zest for information. Both are brotherly and kind, helping people as often as they can. Both blind to the heroine's true love for them.


Mr. Clenham & Mrs. Norris
I'm not sure if they would actually be friends because they are both so alike! Both are quite demanding, sneaky about getting gain/presents for themselves, complain quite a lot and are often unjust in their treatment of the heroines. 


Tip Dorrit & Tom Bertram
Both have a fondness for gambling, horse racing and lively company. Both also have a habbit of getting themselves int debt and bad situations!


John Chivery & William Price
I think John would benefit from William's high spirits and cheery nature. Both have strong affections for the heroine (William's brotherly), are kind and brave souls.


Mr. Meagles & Sir Thomas Bertram
Both have similar personalities and judge wrong conclusions about their children. But they are respectable gentlemen who do have kind hearts underneath. I do like Sir Thomas a bit better. 


Mrs. Meagles & Lady Bertram
Both ladies have quite a life of leisure with nothing to do but have their whims attended to by others. But they both love their children deeply.


Pet Meagles & Maria Bertram
Both can be quite selfish and have "younger sisters" who they occasionally run over to get what they want. Pet does have a sweet heart but Maria's hopes are dashed by Henry Crawford.


Tattycoram & Julia Bertram
Both are overlooked by those closest to them, have a bit of a selfish and pouty streak and run away from home because they want freedom. 


Henry Gowan & Henry Crawford
These gentlemen have more than their first names in common. They are beaus who charm their way into the ladies hearts with a selfish streak to each!


Fanny Dorrit & Mary Crawford
Both can actually be quite nice when they let go of their need to get their own way. Each lady is rather cool and calculating and making cutting remarks about the heroines.


Edmund Sparkler & Mrs. Rushworth
Both marry ladies who are above them in sense and can be quite mean to them. Both have meddling mother who care little for anything but gossip, being at the height of fashion and telling their sons what to do. 

Anyway, these are my little fancies! I had more in mind but I've taken up too much room already. 

Which of these characters would you like to be friends with?

This might be my last post that joins in the Period Drama Week because I'll be out of town this weekend. Much thanks to Miss Elizabeth for hosting this event. Don't forget to visit Elegance of Fashion to join in!

Very Truly Your's

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Period Drama Week Tag - Part 4

This is Part 4 of my answers to the Period Drama Week tag questions. Thanks to everyone who has been reading along and big thanks to Miss Elizabeth at Elegance of Fashion for hosting this amazing Period Drama Week!

You can read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my answers from earlier this week.

~ Which period drama characters are the funniest to you (Keep it under three)? - It's hard to decide on just three but here are my picks:

Miss Pole from Cranford - From the moment her feathered cap is seen bobbing up and down as she strolls down the main street in Cranford Miss Pole is pure comic genius! She loves gossip and feels it's her duty to keep her neighbors informed. She always speaks her mind but is never purposely mean but always does what she feels is right. Actress Imelda Staunton is brilliant and shows so much personality to the character!

Mrs. Jennings from Sense & Sensibility - I know some people find Mrs. Jennings unfeeling or annoying but I really enjoy her character. I find she is so open and easy in her manners and though she likes to tease a bit she has a heart of gold which can be seen at the end of S&S when he helps nurse Marianne. In Sense & Sensibility 1995 actress Elizabeth Spriggs really emphasizes the comedic element of Mrs. Jennings' character and she makes me laugh so much! "Does she care for Olives?"

Lady Violet from Downton Abbey - Even though Lady Violet doesn't mean to be funny she is the wittiest character in the Downton Abbey series. Watching her reactions to the changing world around her is so entertaining and her comments are hilarious! Dame Maggie Smith's portrayal of the character is genius and her comedic timing is perfect! I look forward to seeing season two of Downton Abbey to hear more from this lovely character!

~Which period drama characters are the most annoying (Keep it under three)? - I had some difficulties in coming up with some annoying characters because usually I just find "annoying" characters quite fascinating and like them in spite of their eccentricities. But here are two that do get on my nerves a bit:
Flora Finching from Little Dorrit - The way she flutters about in her ungraceful manner and deliberately drops hints and comments can be quite funny but at the same time annoying. But then again seeing Matthew Macfadyen dressed up as Arthur Clenham could make any fangirl forget how to behave properly! 

Harold Skimpole from Bleak House - I almost chose him for one of the advice letters I wrote. Harold Skimpole is a man without scruples who prefers to live off of his friends instead of working to support his family. I'm not quite sure why Mr. Jarndyce lets him visit so often, but maybe like me he finds something very interesting in watching Mr. Skimpole babble about. Nathaniel Parker's portrayal of this character is so well done. "I am a child, quite a child."

Mrs. Proudie from Barchester Chronicles - She is the wife of the new Bishop who rubs everyone the wrong way including the views. Every time her voice grates on the nerves as she reveals her self-centered plans. Geraldine McEwan portrayed the character amazingly, she's one I just love to hate!

Which period drama characters are in your top three? - This is the hardest question of all because it's hard to pick just three! I'm going to take Jane Austen's characters as a given because I adore almost all of the interesting ladies and gentlemen that fill her stories. So at the moment my favorite non-Austen characters would probably be:

1. Margaret Hale from North & South - I'm so much like her in many way and I really admire her courage, compassion and love the ending to her story!

2. Amy Dorrit from Little Dorrit - Her sweetness lights up this classic Dickens' tale and we really feel for her as she goes through trials and rejoice when her story comes to a happy ending!

3. Sir Percy from The Scarlet Pimpernel - When I was looking for a third I decided to go with a man and this character just struck me at the time. He's an amazing comedic character that is not as shallow as he would like others to think. Anthony Andrew's portrayal is pure genius!

~Who are your favourite actors/actresses from period drama? - I have many favorite actors, as I said in an earlier post actors are really what makes a period drama come alive for me. There are so many talented actors here in the USA and across the pond in the British Isles. I've saved this question for last so I can highlight just a few of my favorite actors and actresses!
Amanda Root - Since I first saw her as Anne Elliot in Persuasion 1995 I have been a fan of Amanda Root. Her sweetness and elegance add significantly to every character she portrays! Some of her other roles include Miss Temple in Jane Eyre 1996, Mrs. Davilow in Daniel Deronda and she was the comical bright side for me as Winifred Forsyte-Dartie in The Forsyte Saga. 

Anna Maxwell Martin - Whether she's playing a humble heroine, a sickly northern mill worker or Jane Austen's sister Anna is so brilliant on screen! Some of my favorite of roles are: Betsey Higgins in North & South, Cassandra Austen in Becoming Jane (she was truly a shining moment of the film!) and Esther Summerson in Bleak House.  

Judi Dench - Every time I see Dame Judi in a period drama I love her more. She lights up the screen and is skillful in her craft! She has the power to make me laugh or cry, I always get caught up in her portrayals! Some of my favorites of her roles include: Miss Matty Jenkyns in Cranford, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest (she is hillarious!), and as Ursula in Ladies In Lavender. 

David Suchet - As a huge fun of Hercule Poirot mysteries I am so thankful that Mr. Suchet has been able to play the character to perfection for close to 20 years! He is so versatile playing both heroes and villains with ease! He's also on the top of my list of actors I'd like to meet in real life. I've watched three different interview/biography type shows about him and he's such a fun loving gentleman in real life! My favorite roles include: Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot (hopefully they'll adapt the final 10 HP stories for TV!), Baron von Stockmar in Victoria & Albert, Augustus Melmotte in The Way We Live Now, and Reacher Gilt in Going Postal. I can't wait to see him in the new TV miniseries of Great Expectations as Mr. Jagger!  

Michael Gambon - Perfectly at home playing kings or gentlemen farmers Sir Michael is an extraordinary force on screen. My favorite of his roles is probably as Squire Hamley in Wives & Daughters where he was quite funny and charming. Other favorite roles include: Mr. Holbrook in Cranford, Mr. Woodhouse in Emma 2009, Edward VII in The Lost Prince and his son King George V in The King's Speech. 

Richard Armitage - All fangirl squeals about his good looks and charming accent aside, Richard Armitage is a brilliant actor and the definitive Mr. John Thornton in North & South. I've very much enjoyed the other things I've seen him in and I hope to see a great deal more of him in period dramas.

~ What period drama has one of your favorite actors/actresses in it? - Hard to choose just one but I guess it would have to be North & South. Not only are Richard Armitage and Anna Maxwell Martin brilliant in this miniseries but it also stars actors Brendan Coyle, Daniela Denby-Ashe, Sinead Cusack, Rupert Evans, Lesley Manville and  who are always brilliant!

Thanks for reading!

Very Truly Your's,
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