Review: BBC Series – Bleak House

A dramatic tale with each episode ending in a nail-biting cliffhanger. Dickens reveals the frustration and despair resulting from the arcane shortcomings of the English legal system in the Victorian period.  Bleak House takes you down the dark alleyways of London and into the opulence of grand English estates. An intricate web of mystery, love, anguish and hope.

Esther Summerson is the central character of the story, a self-less young woman with a kind, thoughtful and perceptive nature. She sparks the interest of ardent admirers with no recognition of her own beauty or attraction. The plot of the story revolves around the legal case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, characters and sub-plots intertwining with unexpected twists and turns.

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Pride and Prejudice: BBC Series 1995 or Movie 2005?

Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has been adapted for screen numerous times. Two of the most well-known adaptations are the BBC Series 1995 and the Universal Movie 2005. Both interpretations of the much loved novel are very different and the leading actors add to this distinction by way of their appearance and performance. The BBC adaptation presents Elizabeth and Darcy as older and more mature, worldly and wise. In contrast the movie portrays the couple as young and impressionable, especially in the case of Lizzie. Costuming and sets in the movie are less polished and lush.

I am an advocate of the BBC Series, what about you, which way do your tastes sway?

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Review: BBC Series 1995   Movie 2005


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Review: BBC Series – Little Dorrit

This Dickens Classic is brought to life with a great cast and authentic period detail. Set in the Marshalsea debtors’ prison, we follow the life of Little Dorrit, Amy and her poor father. A mystery unfolds from the beginning of the first episode, drawing you into a nineteenth century world of suspense and adventure. Unique characters are brought to life with impressive performances. Claire Foy is Little Dorrit personified and Matthew Macfayden as Mr Clenman plays the part as Little Dorrit’s love interest splendidly.

Dickens plot is somewhat like winding your way through an elaborate maze and calls for close concentration. The effort is definitely worth it!

For full review: Historical Romance Review



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Review – Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman

Eleanor of Aquitaine, duchess and queen twice over, mother of eight children and wife to Henry II. Sharon Penman’s trilogy take us on Eleanor’s journey through life, from a young woman, strong-willed, beautiful and daring to grandmother. In the second novel ‘Time and Chance‘ Eleanor is in her second marriage to Henry II, a life filled with excitement and adventure as she helps put down rebellions, escapes abduction, lives through the harrows of childbirth and suffers the humilation of adultery.


Henry’s life is a whirlwind of sieges, campaigns and conspiracies. His feud with Thomas Becket is covered in immense detail, conflict between Crown and Church to the utmost degree.

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Escapism, Entertainment and Education rolled into One!

Many moons ago when I read Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’.  I fell in love with the historical fiction romance genre.  From then on I was scouring bookshops and library shelves to feed my addiction, reading through one author at a time. I loved being drawn back through the centuries into another time and place, whether it be the throng of a brutal medieval battle, dining in a great hall partaking in a royal feast, behind the bed curtains of a marital sanctuary or listening to the whispers of political and religious intrigue.  I was always fascinated and shocked at how easily people could betray one another, even those closest to them.

The monarchs of Britain are an interesting bunch to say the least. Only a few spring to mind that I could say were truly honourable and dedicated to the service of their country and its people.  Greed, gluttony and womanising poisoned quite a few, murder was the only option for a crown rival, and we won’t speak about the other lows that some stooped too.

It’s intriguing to read of the conflicts between the monarchy and the church – how many times a King had the threat of excommunication hung above his head by the word of the Pope.  Or the power struggles of Parliament and Monarch, ending in execution for poor old Charles I who was defiant till the end.

Noble women were marital pawns and their husbands were selected for political and monetary advantage. They were betrothed at a tender age and expected to do their wifely duties. Any woman that succumbed to temptation before marriage brought shame to the family honour and was disowned. That was unless the man was the King.

The historical detail written by authors in historical romance novels varies considerably. Some are fairly light and focus on relationships while others strive for rich historic authenticity.

There are also some brilliant historical romance movies and TV screenplays available. Having read all of the Classics like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as a teenager it is great to see the BBC adaptations. Braveheart would have to be one of my all time favourite movies and The Tudors is a magnificent historical series.

I have put together a top ten list of favourite historical fiction-romance books and film.

1.       Here Be Dragons (Welsh Trilogy) by Sharon Penman

2.       Braveheart – Movie

3.       The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman

4.      Lord of the White Castle by Elizabeth Chadwick

5.      Excalibur – Movie

6.       The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

7.       The Conquest by Elizabeth Chadwick

8.       The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

9.       Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

10.   The Tudors – TV Series

Would love to hear your favourites?

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