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Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters


An inspired adaptation by Andrew Davies of Mrs Gaskell's final novel, widely lauded as her masterpiece. Focusing on the fortunes of three families - the Gibsons, the Hamleys and the Cumnors - in the English village of Hollingford, Wives and Daughters is at once a poignant coming of age story, a lively romance and, not least, a witty comedy of manners. At the centre of the story is 17-year-old Molly Gibson, a passionate, forthright girl. When her father, the widowed local doctor, decides to remarry, Molly's life is thrown into chaos as her stepmother and stepsister introduce her to the bewildering worlds of love and betrayal, social expectations and family secrets.

SKU: 20213
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An inspired adaptation by Andrew Davies of Mrs Gaskell's final novel, widely lauded as her masterpiece. Focusing on the fortunes of three families - the Gibsons, the Hamleys and the Cumnors - in the English village of Hollingford, Wives and Daughters is at once a poignant coming of age story, a lively romance and, not least, a witty comedy of manners. At the centre of the story is 17-year-old Molly Gibson, a passionate, forthright girl. When her father, the widowed local doctor, decides to remarry, Molly's life is thrown into chaos as her stepmother and stepsister introduce her to the bewildering worlds of love and betrayal, social expectations and family secrets.


Romance, scandal and the intrigues of English family life combine in this all-star adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s humorous and endearing novel, adapted by Andrew Davies and produced by Sue Birtwistle, both of whom were responsible for the award-winning Pride and Prejudice.The director is Nicholas Renton. Wives and Daughters brings together a line-up of some of Britain’s best acting talent, combining both established names and stars of the future. The cast includes Francesca Annis, Michael Gambon, Iain Glen, Keeley Hawes, Tom Hollander, television newcomer Anthony Howell; Bill Paterson and Justine Waddell. Other cast members include Ian Carmichael, Deborah Findlay, Barbara Flynn, Barbara Leigh- Hunt, Elizabeth Spriggs and Penelope Wilton. Set amid the broad range of middle-English society during the late 1820s, Wives and Daughters tells the story of Molly Gibson, a forthright and passionate girl. Brought up from childhood by her father, at the age of 17 she acquires an unwanted stepmother and a beautiful step-sister, Cynthia. Though completely different, the two girls become instant friends.The lovable but worldly Cynthia brings Molly both joys and woes.Men, of course, are the problem – in the form of Squire Hamley’s sons Osborne and Roger, and the mysterious Mr Preston, who puts both their reputations at risk. "Wives and Daughters is a neglected masterpiece," says Andrew Davies, whose award-winning adaptations include Pride And Prejudice,Vanity Fair, House of Cards and Mother Love. "More than almost any book I know, it tells us what it feels like to be alive. It’s so deep and penetrating and has wonderfully convincing characters.Everything springs directly out of their relationships." "I think the reason this wonderful book is so little known is that Gaskell died just before completing it," says producer Sue Birtwistle."It is a tender, intimate story of parents,children and step-children, mistakes and secrets.It is about the ordinary mysteries of life:where love comes from,how it grows,how it can twist and sour and corrupt us,how it can break our hearts, how it can bring happiness and fulfilment.We guess the end, but Gaskell leaves us free to dream."


Episode 1

Summer, 1820.

Ten-year-old Molly Gibson attends the annual garden party held at Cumnor Towers,the grand house near Hollingford, the town where she lives.Overcome by all the grandeur, she is taken inside to rest by a beautiful woman named Mrs Kirkpatrick,who promises to look after her. But Molly awakes to find the villagers have left without her. Mrs Kirkpatrick tells Molly she may join the adults at dinner, but again this is a daunting experience and Molly is relieved when her father comes to collect her.

Seven Years Later.

Molly has blossomed into a pretty 17-year-old. She lives contentedly with her widower father, a highly reputed local doctor.When his pupil, Mr Coxe, confesses he loves Molly, Mr Gibson panics – suddenly aware that his little girl has grown into a young woman. He forbids Coxe to pursue Molly and hastily despatches her on an extended visit to Squire and Mrs Hamley of Hamley Hall. Molly adores the frail Mrs Hamley and becomes infatuated with her charismatic elder son,Osborne. His fond parents consider him to be as brilliant as he is handsome, so trouble erupts when their younger son,Roger, returns home with news that Osborne has failed his exams and is unlikely to win the expected university fellowship. Soon after, Mr Gibson announces that he is to remarry. His intended bride is Mrs Kirkpatrick, the former governess at Cumnor Towers whom Molly met when she was a girl. Molly expects the worse.

Episode 2

At Hamley Hall,the Squire banishes Osborne from the house when it is discovered that he has run up considerable debts and refuses to explain them.This throws Mrs Hamley into a state of terminal decline – she is sure that Osborne would tell her if only she could see him. Molly returns to the Hall to comfort her, and realises she is dying.The griefstricken boys arrive home, and Molly finds herself taking the responsibility of comforting all the family. Molly has begun to suspect that her new mamma, though outwardly sweet and kind, is selfish and manipulative at heart.When she returns home,she finds that the new Mrs Gibson has sacked Betty, who had looked after Molly since she was a child.The only bright star on the horizon is the anticipated return of Mrs Gibson’s daughter, Cynthia, who is studying in France . But Mrs Gibson warns that Cynthia can be very difficult to live with. Cynthia arrives in Hollingford and Molly finds her beautiful, charming and irresistible.They soon become firm friends, though Molly finds her new sister slightly mysterious. Cynthia’s relationship with her mother is distant and awkward. When a handsome former acquaintance, Mr Preston, pays a visit, both women become cagey. What is it all about, wonders the innocent Molly? Mrs Hamley dies, and the Squire turns his grief and rage on Osborne, whom he blames for her death. Osborne disappears on one of his frequent,unexplained trips.Meanwhile Roger goes to a local card party and is captivated by Cynthia.This upsets Molly, but why? She is only friends with Roger after all. The reason for Osborne’s strange behaviour becomes clear when Molly overhears a conversation between the two brothers about Osborne’s "pretty French wife",a former nursery maid.

Episode 3

Horrified that his secret is out, Osborne swears Molly to secrecy. Roger urges Osborne to tell their father the truth. But Osborne fears the Squire’s anger; it is well-known that he expects his heir to marry someone rich and well-born, in addition to which he notoriously hates the French! Molly and Cynthia prepare for the Easter Charity Ball in high spirits – until flowers arrive for Cynthia from Mr Preston, with a note claiming two dances. Cynthia’s mood dar kens and she throws the flowers in the fire, declaring that she will not dance with him.At the ball,the girls happily dance with a number of eager partners.But again Cynthia’s mood changes when Preston arrives.She becomes quiet and withdrawn, though strangely she does consent to dance with him. Molly senses that there is a concealed history between them. After the ball, Cynthia falls into a decline. Roger visits often, bringing her presents and treating her with a kind and honest affection.Then Roger is appointed to lead a pioneering scientific expedition to Africa. He rushes to tell the Gibsons, but Mrs Gibson is rude to him and sends him away – he is the younger son and it is Osborne she wants for Cynthia. A few days later, Osborne visits Mr Gibson. He has been feeling unwell and wants Gibson’s opinion. Mrs Gibson eavesdrops at the consulting room door, and soon after writes to Roger apologising for her rudeness and urging him to visit.He returns to pay a final call on them before he goes to Africa and, finding Cynthia alone, proposes to her and is accepted. Molly is heartbroken.

Episode 4

Molly questions Cynthia about Roger – does she really love him? Cynthia is coy. She says she respects him but she does not really love anyone, and anyway, he will be away for two years and many things might happen in that time. Mrs Gibson tells her husband about the engagement and reveals that she thinks it is a good match, given that Osborne has serious health problems. Mr Gibson is very shocked and furious to realize that she has deliberately eavesdropped and, making use of confidential medical information, had decided to encourage Roger’s courtship of Cynthia, thinking him now likely to be Hamley heir. But Mrs. Gibson fails to see that she has done anything wrong. Mr Gibson’s congratulations to Cynthia also turn sour when she demands total secrecy about the engagement but he insists on telling the Squire. "Why must it be secret," he asks? Cynthia will not say. Osborne has still not told his father about his wife Aimée, who has now had a baby. He loves both mother and child dearly, but worries excessively about how he might be able to support them. A moment of potential closeness between him and his father is torn apart when the Squire insists that Osborne marry someone with both money and position. While Roger explores Africa and writes his passionate letters to Cynthia, she happily visits her wealthy relations in London and dances merrily with a handsome barrister named Mr. Henderson. All of this is reported to Molly, who is upset by Cynthia’s apparent callousness. Molly’s affections for Roger have deepened, and she spends hours alone charting the progress of his journey and reading about the wonderful discoveries he is making along the way. By now gossip is starting in the village about Mr. Preston. He has been spotted at odd hours with a young lady

Episode 5

Miss Browning, a family friend of the Gibson’s, becomes convinced that the young woman seen with Mr Preston is Molly and she upbraids her in front of Mrs Gibson and Cynthia for being involved with a man of bad character. Innocent Molly is annoyed at Miss Browning, but Cynthia becomes quiet and secretive.The next day, out walking in the woods, Molly comes across Cynthia and Preston in a passionate argument. Preston reveals that they have been secretly engaged for several years, but Cynthia tell him she hates him and will never marry him. Molly takes the hysterical Cynthia home. That night, Cynthia tells her the whole story. She and her mother had been very poor. When Cynthia was 15, Mr Preston, a family friend, lent her money, then persuaded her to agree to marry him when she was 20. Discovering that he was ruthless and manipulative, she tried to break off the engagement, but he refused to take back the money and threatened her with some incriminating letters she had written to him.Cynthia is desperate;if her secret comes out she will be publicly disgraced and her reputation ruined. Molly vows to help Cynthia. She arranges a rendezvous with Preston and insists he gives back the letters. Preston sneers – why should he? He loves Cynthia. She has treated him badly, but he will make her love him. Just when it seems that Molly has failed, she gets an idea. She will confide in Lady Harriet, daughter of Lord Cumnor, Preston’s employer. Preston panics, realising that she could get him dismissed. It is at that moment that they are surprised by the appearance of a local gossip, who thinks he has discovered a lovers’ tryst. Preston will not deny it, seriously compromising Molly’s reputation. Knowing he is beaten, Mr Preston returns the letters to a jubilant Cynthia.While she is in London, Molly has the dangerous task of returning his money.While Molly is on her own, Osborne visits. He is ill and wants someone else to have Aimée’s address, in case something should happen. On a trip into town, Molly spots Mr Preston and slips him the envelope of money. She is obser ved by a local gossip, Mrs Goodenough.Word spreads that Molly has "lost her character",prompting Miss Browning to confront Mr Gibson. He is furious. He knows she is innocent, but he also knows the world. Molly is ostracised – until help comes from an unexpected source. Lady Harriet confronts Preston and forces him to admit the truth. She then restores Molly’s reputation by promenading openly with her around the town. Lady Cumnor harangues Mrs Gibson for being a bad mother. But Mrs Gibson knew nothing of Cynthia’s engagement to Preston.Now Cynthia is really in trouble. Berated by her mother and step-father for her bad behaviour, she breaks down and flees to her room, emerging later to announce that she has written to Roger breaking off their engagement.

Episode 6

The shocking news arrives at the Gibson house that Osborne is dead. Molly springs into action, riding across to Hamley Hall to comfort the Squire, who collapses in grief. Molly is left with the terrifying task of telling him that Osborne was married and had a child.The Squire is amazed that such a secret could exist between father and son and repents of his terrible treatment of Osborne. "But it’s all too late, too late," he cries. Aimée and the baby arrive at the Hall. She collapses when she learns that Osborne is dead.The Squire quickly takes to looking after the little boy, whom he renames Osborne. Molly looks after them all.Aimee slowly recovers and an exhausted Molly returns home. Cynthia arrives back from London and announces that she is going to marry Mr Henderson. Molly cannot believe how quickly she has transferred her affections, but Cynthia laughs it off in her usual style. News arrives that Roger has returned early from Africa for a few weeks and will be guest-of-honour at a party at Cumnor Towers.Lady Harriet invites Molly, who finds a matured Roger the centre of attention.He finds Molly changed too – no longer the girl whom he thought of as a sister, but a beautiful and confident young woman.They are still close friends, but now he realizes that he loves her too. Does he have time to convince her of this love? Roger invites Molly to visit them at Hamley Hall the following week.Just when everything seems right in Molly’s world, she overhears a conversation – in aiming at Roger Hamley, isn’t she aiming her sights a bit high? Molly is mortified and is consequently withdrawn and awkward with Roger during her visit to the Hall. Roger despairs.Then little Osborne is diagnosed with scarlet fever and Mr Gibson insists that Molly returns home immediately. Desperate to win Molly’s affections before she leaves,Roger asks her to choose a flower for him to keep. It becomes clear to both of them that they are in love. Roger pleads with Mr Gibson to let him visit Molly before he goes back to Africa, but Mr Gibson insists on a quarantine. Roger climbs aboard the stage coach but realizes he cannot leave. He finds Molly and they declare their love for each other. Epilogue Molly walks around the gardens of Hamley Hall chatting confidently and happily with the guests who have come from all parts of the community to celebrate the new mistress of Hamley Hall and bid farewell to Roger who must complete his African trip. Roger walks up to Molly and takes her hand.They look happy and excited as if they have a secret from their guests,and they do


Mrs Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Francesca Annis

Lord Cumnor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ian Carmichael

Miss Phoebe Browning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deborah Findlay

Miss Sally Browning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Barbara Flynn

Squire Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Michael Gambon

Mr Preston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Iain Glen

Cynthia Kirkpatrick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Keeley Hawes

Osborne Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tom Hollander

Roger Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Anthony Howell

Lady Cumnor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Barbara Leigh-Hunt

Mr Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bill Paterson

Molly Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Justine Waddell

Mrs Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Penelope Wilton

Additional Information
Format: DVD
Run Time: 308 minutes
Region: Region 1
Cast: <p>Mrs Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Francesca Annis</p> <p>Lord Cumnor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ian Carmichael</p> <p>Miss Phoebe Browning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deborah Findlay</p> <p>Miss Sally Browning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Barbara Flynn</p> <p>Squire Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Michael Gambon</p> <p>Mr Preston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Iain Glen</p> <p>Cynthia Kirkpatrick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Keeley Hawes</p> <p>Osborne Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tom Hollander</p> <p>Roger Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Anthony Howell</p> <p>Lady Cumnor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Barbara Leigh-Hunt</p> <p>Mr Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bill Paterson</p> <p>Molly Gibson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Justine Waddell</p> <p>Mrs Hamley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Penelope Wilton</p>
Editorial Reviews: <p>“The cast was so strong it was almost distracting. But, as in any great ensemble, when the individuals came together nothing jarred … This adaptation added up to even more than the sum of its considerable parts” - The Times</p>
Episodes: <p>5 Episodes</p>
ISBN: 883929514700

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As good as expected. I started doing videos so I wouldn't stay up reading all night.
Review by Linda h2o; Utah, United States (Posted on 7/26/2016)