Sunday, December 5, 2010

At Home With the Georgians

I haven't posted on Amanda Vickery's latest project, a three part television series based on her book, Behind Closed Doors, for selfish reasons- it isn't being shown in the States; and I really, really want to see it!  As luck would have it, I got my hands on the first part of the series, Thank goodness!

At Home with the Georgians puts a visual to the 2009 book which I absolutely loved.  Those who have also enjoyed the book will have a familiarity with the path in which the program takes.  But it isn't annoyingly repetitive, no, it's more of a review with lots of fabulous footnotes!  The stories and documents of Georgian living are now re-enacted in costumed splendor in between personal tours of houses by the charismatic Ms Vickery.  Austenites will relish the many references to the beloved author (who was a great feature in the book) and will also delight in Vickery's exploration of the Collins house from the 1996 Pride and Prejudice.

When I reviewed the book last December I especially enjoyed my personal connection with one Miss Mary Martin who could share my boast of once living in Wivenhoe Park.  I was delighted that her amusing story was covered in the series, complete with beautiful shots of her home and its grounds (Wivenhoe House) which I once used to take my constitutionals around with Lauren

North Americans can watch the first part of the series here.  Just be aware the video will stop automatically, 54 minutes into it, cutting out the last part which is luckily the conclusion so you won't miss much.  Those with BBC 2 are lucky enough to catch the second part tonight.  I can't wait until I get to see it!

15 comments:

Susan Holloway Scott said...

THANK YOU for posting this link, Heather. I also loved Amanda Vickery's last book, and I was feeling quite pouty and put-out whenever English friends began discussing it on line. Now I know how I'll be spending my evening!

Heather Carroll said...

I had to stay away from my twitter account last Sunday, it was a personal torture hearing everyone gush about it in real time. So thank goodness for Miss CharleyBrown and her eagle eye!

Rebecca said...

I just started watching it, and i swear i have fallen in love with the houses. I have always loved how Georgian houses were decorated :)

THANKYOU THANKYOU THANKYOU!

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Thanks for letting us know. It's a shame that BBC America doesn't show something like this instead of endless reruns of Star Trek the Next Generation. I'm sorry just because Patrick Stewart is British doesn't make Star Trek Brit TV!

Susan Holloway Scott said...

I enjoyed this immensely, Heather. Thank you again!

I loved their locations, and thought it was esp. effective showing them by natural lighting, however dim it might seem to modern eyes. Also thought the bits with the actors were well done. The English really do historic dress so well!

But was I the only nerdy history researcher who gasped as Ms. Vickery opened the 18th c. letter-book and pressed the pages flat with the palms of her hand, flattening the spine while running her fingers over them? Guess on tv there's no horrified Rare Book Room librarian to scold or offer the usual white Mickey Mouse gloves....

Heather Carroll said...

That is so funny that you say that! I was squirming with the rough way she handled the documents. Lauren was having a heart attack when she watched, I don't know if she even got through the whole thing because of it.

So to answer your question, no, you weren't alone!

Lauren said...

@Susan Holloway Scott I was pained at the sight of it! These items could really benefit from digitization....before it is too late.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

I'm glad we agree! In all the sundry reviews and blog posts about this program, not one had commented on how she was treating the letters and manuscripts. Thought I was just being an old fuddy-duddy (again) *g* But for anyone who knows how easily - and irreparably - such papers can be damaged, it was really pretty shocking.

Alisa said...

I have to interrupt here...

18th century books are actually the most sturdy out there. The paper made from rags will endure a couple of more centuries than the books from the 19th and 20th centuries. Gloves are quite contested nowadays - you only really need them when working with medieval manuscrips or hand-coloured pages. Many restorers say gloves do more damage than anything, because you have less feeling in your fingertips and have a higher chance of tearing paper.

I ought to know, I am a librarian working with rare maps from 1500-1850. ;-)

But, flattening a spine is still nasty.

Heather Carroll said...

Well that is comforting! I was so distracted thinking of skin oils getting all over those historical documents

Alisa said...

But I absolutely agree with both of you about the fact that these unique documents should be digitized as soon as possible.

Let's hope that we will find ways of making such digital files last. Considering that in 2010 we'd have troubles to open a computer file from 1994, I have a feeling that the originals might last much longer than their scans.

Alisa said...

(cont.)
To think... books are such a miracle - unlike digital files, vinyl records, magnet tapes, microfilms, slides or anything like that, they are the only thing you don't need any additional machine to read them with. No matter if we'd endure a WW III and went back to a life without cables and batteries, no matter if all document readers/players got destroyed, we could still open a book and extract the knowledge from the past.

Sorry for the rant... It's a subject close to my heart. ;-)

Susan Holloway Scott said...

It has also occurred to me later (once I calmed down) that perhaps the letters and books shown on camera were copies, like stunt doubles.

Alisa, I applaud your rant. I'll also add a lament for the handwritten word. What's a keystroke compared to a character drawn by hand? Who ties up emails in ribbons to save, or tucks a text under their pillow? E-communications may be faster and more effective, but the humanity of the writer - and the reader - is completely lost. Penmanship isn't even being taught any longer in schools; it's all about the keyboarding. To anyone who has felt the instant connection to the past and a long-gone writer in an old letter or diary, that is very sad loss indeed.

Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

I really enjoyed the first episode, though I think it lacked proper set-up at the beginning. It needed a bit more polish. It was wonderful visiting the grand houses and Chawton! What a nice surprise.Can't wait for ep2 which is airing tonight in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Any chance links to episodes 2 and 3 will be posted?? I can't stand to see the first but not the rest!

-Avery