Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tighten my corset and find me a hair pin.

To my delight I recently discovered an ITV mini-series, Downton Abbey.
I watched all seven episodes in 3 days. This show, not unlike my other favorite show from across the pond,  has been merciless and intriguing. Sucking me in, making me want to live in a damp castle & wear lots of houndstooth print. I would eat only beans and toast. I really must get to England.
Harriet Jones, Future Prime Minister being introduced to Wendy Darling. CROSS OVER.

In all of it's Edwardian glory, I started reminiscing about my love of other period pieces. While it's not English, Anne of Green Gables (and Avonlea) set in motion my love of period pieces*. If it came on PBS (Yes, I tuned into PBS even after I was too old for Sesame Street) I watched it. I would borrow the VHS from my Mom's friend, Sharon Gunn. I have no idea how many times I watched those movies. I firmly believe that between Anne and Ariel, I have a deep desire to be a red head. I compensate by being a bottle red head.
It also instilled in me a desire to marry a dark haired guy.
 Around the same time I watched Anne of Green Gables, I remember my Mom and I watching Jane Eyre on PBS. It was literally a dark and stormy day, so dramatic. We watched all 900 hours of it. It was long, it was dreary, it was terrifying & romantic. Hello! Crazy wife in the attic! I had seen my first "gothic romance". I'm not sure which version we watched. I just remember feeling so very restless after watching it. Around this same time I read The Yellow Wallpaper in a book of short stories I had. Wallpaper still gives me the creeps.

 Now, if you knew me when I was 8 years old, you are aware of the fact that I in my brain I either lived on the moorland of England, an English Manor with great gardens or a cottage in Nova Scotia. I was often seen in period-esque clothing (my idea of them anyway), lounging with a book. My parents have a picture of me in a blouse, long skirt and straw hat reading in the garden. 8 year old Leigh also had a soft pink room with a day bed to lounge on while I read.  I was a sucker for romance even then. My 12th birthday was a proper English tea. I used my birthday tea cup just the other day while watching Abbey.
 If we went to visit my Grandma Berry, we had a couple of options for entertaining ourselves: play outside or read outside. She did not own a TV. We would spend hours on her vast property playing and reading. In my time at her house I read Mark Twain classics, Romeo and Juliet, Oliver Twist & Jane Eyre. I was 10 or so. Yes, I did read those books. Understand them totally, no. I just loved reading. Especially on my Grandma's swing. It was always there, I wonder how many books were consumed on that swing?

 Since I've run out of episodes of Downton Abbey (until January 2012!) to watch, I started poking around on Netflix to find new and exciting prospects. I found an ITV production of Wuthering Heights. Yes, I'm now totally on Team Heahcliff (eat your heart out Twilight fans). He's a lunatic, but gosh. He's Heathcliff, right? What's a gal to do?
Sorry Jerry Seinfeld. I love puffy shirts.
All this to say that underneath my love of loud rock music, jeans, minimal decor & plaid, I'm still a sucker for the drama of these movies and books. I still want a bit of floral, lace & tea cups. I'm quite thrilled that long skirts & buns are in fashion. I'm sporting a bun right now.
Ladies, I turn it over to you now. What are your favorite sweeping romances? Are you fans of the Brontë sisters? Did you want a best friend to help you recite "The Lady of Shallott" as she set you adrift in a boat? Are you a sucker for a crazed or distant man with wild dark hair? Do you hate yellow wallpaper as I do? What time period would you want to spend a day in? I'd like to be anachronistic in my time travel and borrow a little from a few of them.
 I suppose I didn't even touch on anything by Jane Austen. Thoughts?

*Obviously there is a wide range of "periods" here. If you count my mention of Austen, we span over 100 years, the late 1700's to World War I.*


Bonni said...

Eek, The Yellow Wallpaper creeps me out! During a college no-talent show, three friends and I performed The Lady of Shalott, with myself as the wind blowing "the leaves upon her falling light about the stage. The friend playing the Lady was prone on a flat dolly that another friend pushed in zigzags, and a fourth recited selections of the poem. Haha, oh, that no-talent show!

Molly said...

A day watching a BBC period piece from start to finish is a day well spent. It all started with Pride and Prejudice (hello Colin Firth). BBC recently (like in the last few years) came out with a whole string of Jane Austen adaptations that were well done. North and South (not the one with Patrick Swayze) is another great one -- along with being a sappy romance, it's an excellent social commentary. I've also enjoyed the Miss. Marple adaptations. PBS has their most recently aired Masterpiece collection online. It's worth checking out usually.

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