Saturday, July 18, 2009

Poor Gwendolyn. Her family is facing ruin, and even though she tried to win her way back into wealth, she ended up having to pawn one of her beautiful necklaces. Luckily, the dashing young Daniel Deronda sees her plight and buys it back for her. Thus begins the BBC adaptation of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda.

Although the story is named after the male lead, in this adaptation played by the charming Hugh Dancy, the story centers mainly on the beautiful and spoiled Gwendolyn (Romola Garai). Gwendolyn is always attired in the latest, most beautiful fashions, with matching jewelry and hats. As her family is facing ruin, where the money for this fashionable attire is coming from is never mentioned (as in the recent Jane Austen films where the young Jane frequently attended balls, despite being nearly destitute). Luckily, Gwendolyn catches the eye of the wealthy yet emotionally distant Grandcourt. In order to save her family from poverty, she agrees to become Mrs. Grandcourt, even though she has feelings for Daniel.

Meanwhile, Daniel saves a young woman from drowning. She turns out to be Mirah, a Jewish singer. He is able to obtain lodging for Mirah with a family and he becomes interested in her story. She is trying to find her long-lost mother and brother. In attempting to help her reunite with her family, Daniel is drawn into the Jewish sub-culture and the somewhat radical elements within it who are agitating for a Jewish state.

The costumes and scenery are lovely but the story lags somewhat. There are some less-than-surprising revelations about Daniel's past, and not everyone lives happily ever after. There are enough plot twists to keep the viewer entertained, even if the ending is somewhat bland.

Final Verdict for Daniel Deronda: Two Gherkins for being a beautifully presented if somewhat dull Victorian tale


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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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The Gherkin Scale

5gherkinsb Brilliant!

4gherkinsb Good, innit?

3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

0gherkins3Don't be givin' me evils!

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