Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lark Rise to Candleford

I first became aware of Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson after watching most of the first season of the BBC adaptation. I assumed that the book would be just as good or better than the tv version. The book was very different from what I was expecting.

Lark Rise to Candleford is a compilation of three stories previously published separately. The character that the reader follows is Laura. It is through Laura that you come to understand life in the rural English countryside at a time when things are transitioning from the old world to the new at the end of the 18th century. Laura observes the traditions and culture that has endured for many generations. The poverty of rural life is compared to a more comfortable middle class life when Laura accepts an apprenticeship in a post office.

The stories in the book are made up of a series of vignettes about daily life. This means there is no outstanding story with a climax and resolution. Instead, we see the march of time pressing on people as they struggle to live. Much of the language, structure and vocabulary, make for difficult reading at times. The first volume Lark Rise is perhaps the most enjoyable. The later two books were more difficult to read. Despite my difficulties, the books were quite popular in their time.

The television adaptation is charming and family friendly. The first season draws much of its inspiration from the books, borrowing even some of the dialogue. The remaining three seasons draw on the characters of the first season but clearly delve into original storylines. The last season focuses on Laura's romantic entanglements. The show was cancelled after the fourth season as the BBC began to focus on Downton Abbey despite rather high ratings and popularity. The show is available for free on Amazon Prime.

Book Rating: 4 stars, difficult reading but worth it.

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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