The story is of 4 very different women who go on holiday together in the 1920s to escape their lives in England. They are the downtrodden Lotty Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot a sweet faced but sad woman who has buried her grief for her baby in religion. There is also the beautiful Lady Caroline Dester who is angry with the way her beauty makes her be treated like an object. Finally there is the much elder Mrs Fisher who is trapped in the past of her dead literary friends. They all stay in a castle in Mezzago and are overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. It changes all 4 women for the better and becomes something they will never forget.
The story was both sad and funny. For example it poked fun at the women such as Mrs Fisher who keeps thinking about being friends with the dead Ruskin. I like the mix of sad and funny as I do not like books that are really sad and where everyone dies. However I do not like ones where everything is taken very seriously all the time either.
The characters in the story were also very interesting. I also like how different they were and the exploring of their different personal problems. From Mrs Wilkins who escaped London to run away from her boorish husband who is obsessed with thrift. However when he actually appeared he was not nearly as bad as she said. Well he was actually rather silly really although obsessed with making money. However on to Lady Caroline who for me was really sad. She is 28 but her parents infantilise her because she is very beautiful. People even women forget because of her beauty that she has inner thoughts and feelings of her own. I did not like the book ending for her where it was implied she would marry the castle’s owner Mr Briggs who started worshipping her as beautiful object. I personally hope they did not get married as I think she would hate it.
The men although minor are also interesting particularly Frederick Arbuthnot or Mr Arundel. I liked in particular the bit where the reader realises he and Mr Arundel are one and the same person. It was also interesting to see him come to see Lady Caroline. However after seeing the castle like the women he was transformed and went back to his wife. Not in a sad way but in a soppy romantic way. It is strongly suggested at the end of the book that they were having sex which was quite entertaining. I bet there would be a baby on the way after the book’s ending.
Interestingly there is also a film of this book which since I enjoyed it so much I will have to watch.
Ross was back in London in this episode with Demelza holding down the fort in Cornwall. In London Ross finds that nobody will listen to his views much to happiness of a smirking newly reinstated George. Ross in this episode wanted grain prices to fall so the poor would not have to go to poor houses. This was opposed of course by George and Lord Falmouth who dislikes the fact that Ross has opposed some of his previous policies. However Ross manages to persuade the Cornish Big Wigs including Falmouth to support his temporary welfare policy so the poor will not starve. This led to George storming off like the little sulky boy he is when he does not get what he wants. However I bet he will have something up his sleeve to try and again ruin Ross. He always does. Also there is a change in Parliament in that the other MPs are beginning to listen to Ross as two men in Parliament one I think who is William Pitt mentioned that he has some interesting things to say. Therefore he thinks someone should call on him. This will be interesting and I am looking forward to seeing Ross meet Pitt. To be honest the politics are some of the best parts of Poldark in my opinion in the entire run, finally some actual history and a touch of reality. Not just the usual soapy stuff.
However Ross also had other people’s problems to deal with. Ross is currently spending a lot of time with Caroline. This involved discussions about her grief over losing her baby. I was interested to see that Ross did feel something about Julia’s death, I mean I guess he did but he has never seen to be very interested in his own children. Really they are mere card board cut outs that could be removed and no one would notice.
Anyway Ross also spent some time dealing with Jeffrey’s Charles’ problems in a wonderful scene where Ross wins a fight against a Viscount. Then this results in Ross basically saying if you do not behave I will tell your father who I know from parliament. This is so Poldark but it was fun in the face of all this misery and heartache. Then even better Jeffrey Charles was sick. Best scene in this episode for me! This led onto Ross talking with Elizabeth about Jeffrey Charles. I have the horrible feeling his infatuation with her will resurface again. I wish he would get over it. I do not see what is so wonderful about her since Demelza is way more attractive than her in many different ways.
Meanwhile Demelza also had others’ problems to deal with. She spent a lot of time in this episode with Dr Enys. This involved a conversation about if Caroline and Ross would have been a better match and them vice versa. Oh no! I hope this does not go any further. This already made my blood boil but it looks like Caroline is back next episode putting all thoughts of this behind. Anyway I think Demelza is too fiery for him and he too calm for her. To be honest I always thought Morwenna might have been good match personality wise for Dwight more so than Caroline. I am not anti her and Drake but both she Dr Enys are pretty similar in personalities and also temperament wise.
Meanwhile things got worse and better for Morwenna and Drake. Morwenna’s son was taken away from her by a nurse under the control of Lady Whitworth, so Ossie could go back to raping her. She also established the reason to Dr Enys why she had threatened to kill her son, since this was her only defence. Poor Morwenna, she could not divorce him at the time and he can basically make her life hell and get away with it. Ossie also finished his affair with Rowella but Rowella’s husband found out. This led to him beating Ossie to death. Thank god! He is dead finally. I have been praying for this moment for ages.
However this is clearly going to have repercussions and this is where Drake comes in. Drake accepting he cannot have Morwenna proposed to Rosina who accepted him despite the fact he told her he still love Morwenna. Then Demelza having heard Ossie was dead told Drake who then jilted Rosina at the altar. This led to her angry father burning down his forge. Oh no this has certainly not happened before. George also heard about Drake and wanted to hurt him. Thank God Elizabeth told him to leave him well alone this time. God George is vile. Well maybe not as vile as J.R Ewing but he is certainly well up there. Well he did not leave him well alone and sent Tom Harry after him who has resurfaced again! I thought he had gone forever. Well anyway he went to Namparra to find him. In my second favourite encounter of this episode Prudie and Demelza shoved him out the door. It looked like Prudie wanted to beat him with an inch of his life. She probably really misses beating Jod up!
Anyway Drake went to Morwenna who rejected him because of all the pain she has been through. I am sympathetic to both parties here. Does she still love him at all? However there again she has been married to vile Ossie which would put anyone off sex forever. Anyway this encounter led to Lady Whitworth thinking Drake murdered Ossie who according to her is a great horse rider and would never fall. Knowing her and her being played by Rebecca Front she will not stop until she gets what she wants. Oh no!
Now onto one thing I could not miss out sexualised males. Zero in this episode. Unless you count Ossie’s huge sweaty hand but no show of his famous toes! Oh and I suppose Drake’s shirt was undone slightly.
On a final mention. I think the fashions may be beginning to change in Poldark. Morwenna was wearing a bonnet this episode. Perhaps even more fashion changes will come to Cornwall. Next Ross will be wearing a top hat instead of a tricorn.
Overall 4.5 stars for this episode, as it was dramatic, heart wrenching yet even light at times.
P.S it looks like in the next episode Ross is batting his eyelashes at Elizabeth again and vice versa. The rivalry between Ross and George again heats up with George threatening to have him expelled from Parliament. Caroline and Dwight are back together clearly as she is telling him to administer to Elizabeth who has fallen to the ground. Oh no it looks something disastrous will happen to her. Is she pregnant? She is not doing something stupid again to bring it on early?
In a series of posts I will write about female activists from all over England to celebrate the centenary of the partial enfranchisement of women. My first is about Elsie Howey.
Elsie Howey 1884-1963
Elsie Howey was a suffragette who helped introduce the movement into Devon particularly into Torbay. She may not be as well- known as Emily Davison or Emmeline Pankhurst but like them she was willing to cause harm to her health to get the vote.
Elsie Howey was born in Finningley in 1884 and before she became a suffragette she studied languages at St Andrew’s University. After leaving university Howey joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1907. Her first imprisonment happened when she was arrested for protesting outside the House of Commons. She was next imprisoned after she took part in a protest outside Herbert Asquith’s house and was sentenced to 3 months. On her release she and Vera Wentworth were met at the gates of Holloway Prison by 50 women and were driven in a carriage to Queen’s Hall. There they were given bouquets in the suffragette colours, and scrolls designed by Sylvia Pankhurst to commemorate their imprisonment.
Her most famous, but not most notorious act came next. In 1909 she rode on horseback dressed as Joan of Arc in a procession to welcome the release from prison of Emily Pethick Lawrence who was another suffragette. Howey’s act made the national papers. She later repeated this act when she wore the same costume for Emily Davison’s funeral procession.
Her most infamous act was to come next. In the same year she, Vera Wentworth and Annie Kenney assaulted Asquith and Hebert Gladstone while they were playing golf. Her friend and fellow suffragette Emily Blathwayt was horrified by her actions. Emily resigned from the Union because of this and Elsie was no longer allowed to stay at Emily’s house because of these events. This certainly did not stop Elsie as she later smashed a Gaol Governor’s windows in support of Lady Constance Lytton, so she would also be imprisoned. Later that year she was arrested again for protesting in Penzance. She undertook hunger strike and fasted for 144 hours. After her release she worked to introduce the suffragette movement into Torquay and Plymouth. This work was praised in an article by Emily Pethick Lawrence.
Howey was extremely devoted to hunger strikes which was again praised by Emily Pethick Lawrence. In one case in 1912 it took her four months to recover from the force feeding that she received. In this case she was released early because many of her teeth were broken as a result. In 1914 she retired from public life when the Suffragette Movement ended. She later went to live in Malvern and died there in 1963 of Chronic Pyloric Stenosis which is condition that is rare in adults. Most likely because of the throat damage she experienced from the force feedings.
Have you ever been to a nude birthday party before? Watch Toni Erdmann.
Toni Erdmann is about an ageing man called Winfried who loves making practical jokes but is also lonely. He has a distant relationship with his career obsessed daughter Ines but loves her deeply. She also loves him but finds him embarrassing. On a visit to her he discovers that all she does is work. Therefore worried for her sanity he dresses up in a black wig as a character called Toni Erdmann. He then pays her visits and is very embarrassing but his goal is to make her loosen up. This has a gradual effect as she begins to do slightly bonkers things such as having a nude birthday party. Plus a gross sex scene with a colleague involving petits fours. She also begins to show more emotion and more open affection for her father. This is demonstrated by a long hug she shares with him in a park. However ultimately she does not change very much and still remains focused on her career.
Film poster of Toni Erdmann or the hug scene
Sandra Hüller gave an excellent performance as the uptight Ines who only lives for her work. It is her only interest as she gives up her private life to entertain a client’s wife by taking her shopping. This is not unrealistic as some people do go to desperate measures to excel in their career. Ines was both sympathetic and annoying but mainly really sad. Even though she loosens up a bit in the film with the nude birthday party scene, it is said that she will fly off to Singapore for the next 2 years at the film’s end. This is a work related trip. This is why I particularly like non Hollywood films because they are often more realistic and do not always have happy endings with perfect romances. Ines has a brief fling with a colleague in the petits fours scene which actually comes to nothing. I think he may have wanted more but they had no other sexual encounters. Also her friends seem to be working all the time and the only people other than her father that come to her birthday are colleagues. Peter Simonischek gave a bonkers but humane and compassionate performance as Winfried. He, like his daughter was also lonely as he is divorced and his only companion is his dog who dies in the film. He again in his way was realistic as people do end up alone and have to manage. He does by finding lightness in life. That seemed to be his message to his daughter and also to do other things than just work.
The screenplay was well written but also bonkers, with Winfried saying I have hired a substitute daughter being one of the most memorable quotes. This highlighted how embarrassing he is but also how distant his and Ines’s relationship was. It also clearly sets up the main theme of the film. Some aspects of the film were odd and also ridiculous such as the nude birthday party. It was an odd way to lighten up life and got sillier and sillier but it was so bizarre. I did not expect it to happen so that made it even funnier. It was also pleasing to see equal nudity in the film from both men and women and not just mainly nude women like in Game of Thrones.
Overall I would give this film 4.5 stars as it makes you think but is also funny but poignant at the same time.