Tag Archives: Victoria

Beecham House Review

No one is without a past, for better or for worse. Ideally, we should be able to learn from the past and watch it disappear in the rearview mirror. But that is not always the case.

Beecham House premiered last night on PBS. This six-part miniseries takes place in India at the end of the 18th century. The viewer is introduced to John Beecham (Tom Bateman). A former employee of the British East India Company, John is eager to move on from his troubled past. But that is easier said than done.

Co-written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, (Bend It Like Beckham, Blinded by the Light), the supporting cast is full of Masterpiece actors. Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), Leo Suter (Sanditon, Victoria), and Grégory Fitoussi (Mr. Selfridge) are three actors included in a large and diverse cast that brings the story to life.

I really enjoyed the first episode. As the lead character, John is compelling, complicated, and human. Filmed on location in India, the setting adds a level of reality that is often not seen in dramas set in this period. It could have been conceived as a technicolor, fairytale-ish land that can only come out of a dream. Authentically re-creating India as it was in the late 18th century helps to draw the viewer in further to the narrative and the characters.

I recommend it.

Beecham House airs on PBS on Sunday at 10:00.

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Victoria Review

In life, there is always something.

Season three of Victoria premiered last night on PBS.

It’s 1848 and monarchies all over Europe are being deposed and replaced by a republic at a ferocious rate. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is on the throne for a decade. She and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) have been married for eight years. She is heavily pregnant with the seventh of their eventual nine children. Outside of the palace walls, the Chartists are protesting for their political rights. In France, the King has been deposed and finds safety within Victoria’s court.

Inside the court, there is even more drama. Victoria’s older half-sister, Princess Feodeora (Kate Fleetwood) has decided to pay her little sister a visit. She may or may not be all there. Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) is trying to do his job as Foreign Secretary, but comes off as a little impertinent. If nothing else, Victoria is a survivor, but will she survive this latest round of challenges?

When a returning series comes back, the premiere episode has to start with a bang. Victoria started with more than a bang last night. Between the political revolution outside and the personal drama inside, it looks like it will be a very interesting season.

I recommend it.

Victoria airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9pm. 

 

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Victoria Series 2 Episode 1 Review

Queen Victoria has the rare distinction of being one of the few female rulers in human history. Last year, the television series Victoria (based on the book of the same name by Daisy Goodwin, who is also the series’ show runner ) hit our small screens.

Last night, the second series of Victoria premiered on PBS. The second series starts a month after the first series ended. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is a new mother and has been on resting since giving birth. Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) has stepped into his wife’s shoes while she recovers from bringing their daughter into the world. But Victoria is eager to get back to work and like many mothers, has to find the life/work balance that is sometimes akin to walking on a tightrope. While Victoria is trying to balance family life, her marriage and her job, Albert is trying to find his own identity outside of his marriage.

I really enjoyed last night’s episode. Not just because creator and writer Daisy Goodwin brings these real life people into our modern lives, but also because Victoria and Albert’s marriage seems so ordinary, despite their extraordinary status in society.  Like any married couple, they love each other, but they disagree quite fiercely. I also very much appreciated that Victoria’s dilemma is quite modern. She is working in a man’s world, but at the same time, she is a wife and a new mother. Any woman trying to maintain the same delicate balance will tell you that it is not easy.

I recommend it.

Victoria airs at 9PM on Sunday nights on PBS. 

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The Top 5 Books Of 2016

One of my great pleasures in life is reading. I’ve read many books this year. Some were excellent, some were good and some I wanted to throw at the wall, they were so bad.

The list below are the five best books from 2016.

 

  1. Karolina’s Twins: Lena Woodward is an elderly widow who survived the Nazi Holocaust. She approaches the husband and wife team of private investigator Liam Taggert and lawyer Catherine Lockhart. Her childhood best friend, Karolina died during the war, but not before asking Lena to ensure that her children survived.This book is a heartbreaking and heartwarming tale of faith, friendship and a dying mother’s last wish for the children she will never see grow up.
  2. The Princess Diarist: Hindsight is always 20/20. I finished reading this book just before Christmas. The heartbreaking loss of Carrie Fisher earlier this week adds a new level of poignancy to the experience. In revisiting her experience while making Episode 4 of Star Wars (and having a brief affair with Harrison Ford in process), the reader is taken not just back in time, but into the mind of one of the most brilliant performers and writers of recent memory.
  3. Victoria: Daisy Goodwin’s brilliant fictionalized tale of the first years of Queen Victoria’s reign is remarkable.  What kept me reading was not her status and her title, but that she was a human being and an 18-year-old girl who is starting to grow up and grow into the Queen Victoria we think of today.
  4. Modern Girls: Set in New York City in the 1930’s, it is the tale of a mother daughter duo who find themselves pregnant at the same time. Approaching her 40’s, Rose has had 5 children. She thinks her days bringing children into the world are over. Rose’s daughter, Dottie has it all. A solid career, a bright future and a boyfriend she is ready to marry. Then she gets pregnant and not by her boyfriend. If the sign of a good book is wanting a sequel, then this is a really good book.
  5. The Two Family House: The Berman brothers, Abe not only work together, but live in the same two family house. Their wives, Rose and Helen are as close as sisters. Then they get pregnant at the same time. After the babies are born, the relationship between Rose and Helen is never the same. Soon the rift between the women begins to affect the whole family.

Here’s to the good books from 2016 and the books to be read in 2017.

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Victoria Book Review

To be a King is extra-ordinary. To be a Queen is extra-extra-ordinary.

Queen Victoria ruled from 1837 until 1901. When we picture her, we see a stern, moral and regal monarch who knows who she is and her place in the world.

But before she was that Victoria, she was another Victoria. She was young, impressionable, a bit naive, a bit temperamental, but she also knew her destiny. Daisy Goodwin’s new novel, Victoria, takes the reader back to 1837. A short time after her 18th birthday, a messenger from Buckingham Palace has arrived. Her uncle, the King is dead and she is now Queen. The first thing she does is break the shackles that her widowed mother, The Duchess Of Kent and her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy have kept her in.

Victoria finds an ally in Lord Melbourne, but many fear that he has a Svengali like hold on the young Queen. Given her age, her previously sheltered life and her lack of experience, there are concerns that Victoria may be too blind with the first blush of infatuation to see Melbourne as others do. Enter her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Their relationship is destined to be one of the most romantic relationships of the ages. But before the happily ever after can commence, Victoria’s dislike of her cousin has to turn into love.

I have been eagerly waiting for this book for months. The wait was well worth it. Writing fiction is a difficult endeavor to begin with. But to write historical fiction about real people who are still in the public consciousness, whether living or dead is a herculean task. The thing that grounds the book and the characterization of Queen Victoria is that at that stage of her life, she was an 18 year girl. Yes, she was also a Queen, but she was also 18, growing up and unfortunately, as we all do at that age, making painful mistakes along the way.

I absolutely recommend it.

P.S. My review of the first episode of the television series Victoria is up. It will be airing on PBS early next year and it is good.

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Victoria Review

For many, when we think of Queen Victoria, we conjure up the image of Victoria in her later years. Still mourning the death of her husband, Victoria is wearing black and looking every inch like the regal Queen we imagine her to be.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of watching the first episode of the new series, Victoria.

Based on the book by Daisy Goodwin (which I am reading now, look for the review either tonight or tomorrow), Victoria wakes up in 1837, a short time after her 18th birthday. Her uncle, the king is dead and she is now Queen. Her first act as Queen is to step out of the tightly controlled life she has lived under her mother, the Duchess Of Kent (Catherine Fleming) and her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy (Paul Rhys). Leaning heavily on Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell) for advise and support, she develops what appears to be an infatuation.

I have been a fan of Daisy Goodwin’s books for a few years now. When I heard about not only the book, but the series, I became excited. Neither has let me down yet. What Daisy Goodwin has done both on-screen and on the page (she wrote the screenplay), is present an image of Victoria that few today would recognize. In the place of a morally strong older woman is a young girl who feels like any young girl, regardless of her station. She is young, impetuous, has a temper and likes to laugh. The thing that I liked the most that humanizes Victoria is that, to put it simply, she is human. She is young, she makes mistakes, but she also picks herself up and moves forward with her life.

I absolutely recommend it and I look forward to seeing the full series when it airs in the US in January.

Victoria premieres on January 15th, 2017, at 9pm on PBS.

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