I've recently read and posted ( HERE ) about Elizabeth Gaskell's beautiful last unfinished novel, Wives & Daughters, and I 've soon after decided it was time to watch the BBC 1999 adaptation in four episodes I had in my DVD collection but hadn't seen yet - I usually prefer reading the book first!
The script was by Andrew Davies, who also adapted for the screen several of Austen's works, among other classics.
It does not very often happens to me , while comparing a book to its filmed adaptation, but it seemed I was re-reading the story, I was not at all disappointed at what I was watching and listening to. Very little, insignificant changes didn't interfere with the atmospheres and characterizations Gaskell had wanted to convey. I particularly loved Justine Waddel as Molly Gibson, Keelye Hawes as Cynthia, Rosamund Pike as Lady Harriet and , infinitely, Michael Gambon as Squire Hamley.
If you look for another John Thornton in Roger Hamley, leave it, you won't find one. He's rather dull , too patient , too naive to be compared. The hero and the heroine in this story, that is Molly and Roger, are the symbols of unselfish love, they are so generous and ready to self -denial that one is let to think they are rather unbelievable characters. Too good to be true. But I like them, though they can sound dull,too sensible or too little passionate. What I appreciate is that they can really love people.
If there is something I didn't much like in this series is ... the ending Davies wrote. It was not what I expected. It was a happy ending, of course, as Mrs Gaskell had surely planned, but not as lively or as exciting as I had imagined it. Judge yourself watching the clip below.
Mrs Gaskell narration had stopped at Roger Hamley waving at Molly from afar, outside her house, under heavy rain. Then he leaves for Africa for two years... See what happens in the Tv drama, instead.