Monday, January 11, 2010

Our Mutual Read: Return to Cranford

So, although I have a bunch of Victorian books at home, I haven't yet started my reading. Instead, I'm going to cheat & talk about my impressions of last night's Return to Cranford on PBS. It's based on Elizabeth Gaskell's book--which we don't have at the library, but you can read online using Google Books or download a free E-book from Girlebooks (Girlebooks also features an interesting review of the book)--so at least I'm beginning to immerse myself in the right period.

I really enjoyed the 2007 production of Cranford. It was just delightful to watch this story play out, & a cast including Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton, Eileen Atkins & Francesca Annis is nothing to sneeze at--& that was just the female talent! However, last night's Return to Cranford felt a little flat to me. I found myself wondering if this sequel was actually based on the book, or if the writers were trying to recapture the magic by extrapolating from existing plotlines--not very successfully, in my opinion. It was great to watch the pantheon of British stars working their magic on the screen, but I just didn't feel the connection with story. Also, hopefully not giving too much away, the ride on the train scene was really cute, but I couldn't imagine Elizabeth Gaskell (or any Victorian writer) writing it. I'll be checking out Part 2 next week, but not with quite the same level of excitement.

I've got Cranford on my list of reads now, but if anyone out there has already read the book, can you tell me if Return to Cranford is part of Gaskell's original stories? Also, if you watched the show last night, what did you think of it?

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