Julian Fellows (yes, the Julian Fellows that brought us Downtown Abbey) has adapted Anthony Trollope's novel Doctor Thorne, which is part of the Barsetshire Chronicles into a four part series that is currently streaming free for those with Amazon Prime (sign up for Prime now).
Trollope was a contemporary of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and definitely in watching the show I could see similarities. I'll get to those in a minute.
Doctor Thorne is very much like a Victorian-age Downton Abbey. Though there is more emphasis on the relationships of the titled class and the villagers. There is definitely intrigue and scandal to keep you watching this 1850s drama. There is a lot of scheming and secrets among the characters.
Often when I watch British shows I like to pick out actors that I know from other shows. While there may have been others, I quickly picked out the actress who played Susan McClare on Downtown Abbey - Phoebe Nicholls. Her character in Doctor Thorne, the Countess de Courcy, is just as conniving, but not nearly as shrill.
Politics seem to be a prominent topic and two characters are running for office. Though they aren't very worthy candidates. One is a drunkard, but a baronet and the other is not so educated, but apparently has money.
Lady Arabella (played by Rebecca Front, Inspector Lewis) reminded me a bit of Austen's Mrs. Bennett. Apparently estates being in financial trouble is a common theme in English aristocracy and the estate of the Gresham's estate is heavily in debt. Lady Arabella feels it is her children's duty to marry money in order to save their home. Frank Gresham, Sr. is a bit more affable (similar to Mr. Bennett). The daughters side with their mother and hope to marry well. Definitely a few Mary and Edith-worthy moments.
Frank, Jr. on the other hand is in love with the local doctor's niece. While they live comfortably, they are not of the wealth needed to save the estate. There is also the questions surrounding Mary's parentage. Is she really the Doctor's niece or is she his child? He has raised her since she was a baby and he has no wife.
Mary loves Frank, but she also loves the Gresham family and is willing to sacrifice her happiness for the family's good.
There is a ton more about the drunk baronet (he owns most of the Gresham estate) and his son Sir Louie. Sir Louie is very much a Dickensian villian and I foresaw his fate.
I really thought it was a well done series. I haven't read the book, but it definitely made me want to. I hope that there will be more shows from the book series. It was also fun because Julian Fellows does an intro and closing for every episode - reminded me of Masterpiece Theatre's intros, including a red chair and fireplace. I can't remember if Fellows was wearing a smoking jacket.
The ending was priceless and such a satisfying ending for the series. I recommend queuing this show up for a little binge watching. And if you want to pick up the book, it is free on Amazon.
In other book to TV adaptions - Wayward Pines returned to Fox on Wednesday for a second season.
What book to TV adaptions would you recommend?
Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres, but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances.
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