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Library - Highlights

Posted on: November 9, 2020

Victorian England Remains a Popular Setting for Drama

Outlander DVD Cover

Armchair travel to distant lands is one type of travel. However, with period piece shows produced in the UK the viewer can also time travel. Let your Abilene Public Library help you set your imagination free through these shows!  

Some of the most emotionally enveloping shows in recent times have been Outlander, Downton Abbey, and Poldark which tend to suck in the viewer and leave them feeling like participants in the events happening to the main characters. One of the most talked about iconic roles in the last 20 years was Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) as he jumped into the lake with his shirt off and in his smalls. While the shows highlighted in this article are not as well known, they are well done. Two of the three are based upon novels or short stories and the third is a fictionalized account of the building of the Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire, England between 1870 and 1874. These historical programs show life in different time periods, circumstances and socioeconomic levels and educate us while we are entertained. 

Jericho DVD CoverThe first show is entitled “Jericho”, which has been termed as Britain's first “Western”. It is set in North Yorkshire and portrays the shantytown named Jericho that developed to support the community of craftsmen and day laborers brought in to build the viaduct. The town takes on a frontier feel where law and order are not yet established. Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) plays Annie Quaintain and mother of two teen agers who is evicted from her home after her husband dies. She hears about this town and takes occupancy in one of the structures and opens a boarding house for lodgers who live with the family and boarders pay for her to cook for them. Her family interacts with all levels of society and must struggle to maintain their home and decency. Jericho was written by Steve Thompson who is the creator of Sherlock and Doctor Who and directed by Kate Bartlett who works on Vera. This show can be seen on Hoopla. 

Cranford is based upon Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell’s set of novellas and stars Dame Judy Dench as the large landowner of the surrounding countryside. The setting and time period play a big role in how viewers experience the show. The village of Cranford is set in Cheshire located in North West England in the 1840’s. For centuries, not much has changed in Cranford, but the railroad will bring change and modernization to everyone. While there are notable male characters, the focus is primarily on its female characters as they seek to create stability by invoking traditional ways of life, propriety and gentility. This series can be read in book and eBook on Overdrive and listened to on audiobook format as well as seen on DVD and on Hoopla.  

Forsyte Saga is a trilogy written by Nobel prize winner, John Galsworthy. This series has some comparison to “Poldark” in that it follows the intrigue, rivalries and tribulations of the upper middle class Forsyte family from 1870 to 1920. Galsworthy writes about three generations of Forsytes and does not spare the reader from death, antisocial personalities, poverty or sex crimes. While the series unfolds, the family seemingly does not learn from their mistakes and the sad, tumultuous relationships continue into the next generation. Galsworthy books can be read in book and eBook format and the series can be viewed on DVD and Hoopla.

Article Contributed by Janet Bailey, Technical Services Manager, Main Library

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