The setting of the industrial northern city of Milton with its cotton mills, the work ethic of the people in this smoky town, the way people trade, the ups and downs of business and fortunes, social mores and customs, the viewpoints and struggles of the workers (hands) and the masters (mill owners), the unlikely friendship of two young women, and the coming together of an improbable couple make for riveting viewing.
The costumes, the settings, and the language – so different from what we read and speak today – endear you to the characters even more. I got so much into the mood that I downloaded a copy of the novel on my recently acquired Kindle. There are quite a few differences in the TV adaptation from the original novel – especially in keeping with gender sensitivity and other such subtleties of today. But I daresay the book was extremely slow reading. For the first time perhaps, I found the TV adaptation better!
I then went on to watch this series called The Paradise. The series is an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight or The Ladies' Paradise), published in 1883. The plot revolves around a departmental store and in particular the goings on in the ladies section of the store. The story explores the beginnings of marketing, the first tentative steps toward advertising, the idea of credit, the consolidation of many businesses under one roof, the incentive system for employees, and underlying all this, the social customs during that time. For instance, if a lady member of the staff married, she had to give up her position in the store – the same did not apply to the men in the staff.
This too was a gripping series and made me think about the times gone by and how these concepts have evolved over time. The series looks at ideas such as dedication to one’s work, friendship, honesty, and ethical practices in business realistically and portrays the fact that all these are not always as black and white as they may appear. The language in this series is more contemporary – I have not yet compared it to the original work.
I then watched the all-time favorites – the Pride and Prejudice series made by the BBC in 1995 and Jane Eyre. The language and the settings were uplifting to say the least. Sometimes, watching series or movies like these can be a great introduction to the classical novels.
All in all, wholesome entertainment to ring in the new year. Happy new year, dear reader. Here’s wishing you a great ride in 2016.