Day: September 3, 2008

Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832 by Stella Tillyard is the biography of four high born sisters. As with many of the books I read, this languidly lay in the TBR for awhile. This one for almost a year, but I have quite forgotten where I read or learned about the books only observing that it seemed well criticised and popular enough for the BBC to make mini series on it. It is a thick history book around 450 pages hardcover and very in depth as it covers the lives of these four women. While I enjoy history immensely, I actually do read that many historical books, and to be honest, many of them are dry. This one was not only well researched, but Tillyard makes the prose feel, at times, as if one is reading a novel rather than a distant historical account. There are many academics who are readable and comprehensive, and there are many who are far from it. Tillyard is not only readable, but her writing is accessible to the public which is why this book is a bit of an oddity being very historical, biographical, and a best seller. As a result, one learns a lot about the lives of people in the UK and Ireland in the 18th century. It is not necessarily a page turner for everyone though, and I really only picked it up because I am interested in history, but you may not be curious if aristocrats, rich dead people, biographies, and English/Irish history are not your things. An interesting read none the less.

This six episode BBC series which also aired on PBS Masterpiece in 1999. I had not heard of it until I knew of the book which goes to show you that the series is not the most excellent. I have seen better to be sure even in the British costume drama. I do not think it’s necessarily a bad series; it’s actually difficult to adapt because it is a true story. The adaptors were quite faithful, and I think as with most series of this type, the acting and cast make the most of it. I quite liked Geraldine Somerville as Emily; she is very attractive in it. I did not like the Emily voice over, and the portrayal of Caroline’s storyline left me feeling depressed. The portrayal of Sarah at the beginning was difficult to see though. All in all, I thought it okay because it was a bit slow, but it did not merit too much censure or negativity. I’d take the book any day though.