Sunday, May 04, 2008

Victorian novels turn me into a philistine

I would have been home earlier from my parents' but just as I was packing up to leave, some sort of Masterpiece Theatre type program started with a movie based on an Elizabeth Gaskell novel.

My first encounter with Ms. Gaskell was in an introductory level English course in university where we had to read North and South, which I didn't find particularly exciting. It was hundreds of dense pages of not very much happening, meticulous description of settings and too much introspection that didn't accomplish much.

The protagonist was a young woman who bridged the gap between factory owner and worker, and helped bring labour peace to a town. All her awesome strength and progressiveness as a strong female character was tempered with heavy doses of self-doubt, fainting and swooning, which I and a lot of other females in our class found really irritating.

It was one of those books that sat on my bookshelf for the longest time until Kathy came over and borrowed it with a stack of other books, only to bring it back a week later, declaring it unreadable.

I groaned when I saw this movie come on, but as is often the case, it's hard to stop watching things once you start. Not to mention, it was peppered with lines that make me giggle, like "I do believe Mrs. So-and-so is gesticulating. Let us go see what is happening."

Now, I have a hard time saying this, but I think Ms. Gaskell in movie form is so much better than her books. Whereas the book would be weeks of pain, the movie is a painless five hours. Much better.