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Wives and Daughters
updated 5.6.2001

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
My mother and I really liked Wives and Daughters because it showed real relationships between mothers and daughters, and because it had a lot of suspense. We like to try to figure out what is going to happen in the scenes before the scenes happen. We are rooting for Molly, and hope that Roger finds out that Molly likes him. This is the best show; it's funny, suspenseful, creative, and emotional. Thanks PBS!

Lenice Scott
Detroit, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Bravo for Wives and Daughters! I plan on reading the book and more of Elizabeth Gaskell's work over the summer. The series is wonderful -- great actors and actresses, and, of course, the beautiful scenery! Cheers to the BBC for another outstanding job. I cannot wait to see what will happen to Molly! She is becoming one of my favorite heroines, right alongside Jane Eyre!

Regina Orlando
Union, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just want to say how much I am enjoying this mini-series. I can't wait to see what happens in Part 4, but at the same time, I am a little sad. It just means that I will not have something to look forward to on Sunday nights. I can't tell you how much I love stories revolving around this period. I absolutely loved Pride and Prejudice; I own the series, and have lost count as to how many times I have seen it. I love Jane Austen, and sometimes I go on a film marathon, watching movies adapted from her books. This one gives me the same kind of pleasure to watch. I hope you will present other series of this quality and time period. Thank you for enjoyable TV.

Janet Suarino
Rye, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Words cannot express the gratitude for the making of such a superb masterpiece. I feel that Wives and Daughters is one the best productions yet. Each cast member is so captivating, intriguing in subtle ways. It does not feel like one is watching theatre, but as though one is part of the story; it is hard to separate fact from fiction. The music is beautiful, too. Each location is brings us back in time. The hardest part is waiting for each Sunday night for the next part -- the anticipation is agony! I look forward to purchasing the series and book. Thank you so much for all your hard work.

Areti Gina Triantafyllou
Lakeville, NB

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am a 15 year old and have always loved Masterpiece Theatre. I thought Wives and Daughters was the best movie I have ever seen.

Felisha Bullock

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I too was completely enthralled with Wives and Daughters. The characters were so real. I loved the Doctor, Molly's father. He married that selfish former governess not knowing her true character, but when he learned what she was really like, he accepted it and let her know when she was really out of line. She really didn't put anything over on him. And what of the patience and forbearance of Molly while waiting for her true love? It certainly was a very different time!

Marlene Melrood
Glendale, WI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I finished watching the four-part Wives and Daughters series and must say that I was anxiously awaiting each episode throughout the weeks. This is a touching story -- exceptionally well portrayed by a cast of believable characters -- and a heartwarming one, too. Its memory will endure for quite some time in our minds. Programs like this prove the PBS tagline, "The Best Television on Television!" Thank you for supplying such quality entertainment to the general public, and thanks, too, to ExxonMobil for their continued support.

Rose Marques
Attleboro, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am seventeen years old and have been a faithful viewer for seven years now. My mother introduced me to the PBS network when I was very young, and I am a proud viewer. I've enjoyed every series that was on Masterpiece Theatre. I am always excited to find out the newest series on the program.

The newest addition to the Masterpiece Theatre series is Wives and Daughters. It is such a delightful and fresh production. The actors and actresses portrayed Elizabeth Gaskell's characters very well. The lush settings and outstanding acting made the series another great achievement of the PBS network. This was only the most recent achievement of Masterpiece Theatre program, and hopefully not the last. I will continue to be an avid viewer, and wait in anticipation for the next production.

Joy Perez
Victorville, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am a new fan! I have seen the movie Wives and Daughters, and it was wonderful. It has been on for the past four Sundays and each day I get so excited to see the next part. I look forward to seeing more great movies from classic literature. Thank you! I am now hooked on PBS!

Loralie Curtis
Goose Creek, SC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am an assistant professor in the English Dept. of two colleges in New York City (part-time). I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on two of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels, North and South and Wives and Daughters. Most of my students have never heard of Elizabeth Gaskell. It was such a delight to see the excellent production you did on Masterpiece Theatre. Well done! I have taped it and will treasure it. I hope it inspires others to begin reading Gaskell's works.

Marie Warmbold
New York City, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I wanted to write and let you know how I thoroughly enjoyed viewing your production, Wives and Daughters. I cannot wait to read Ms. Gaskell's book. I really appreciate the detail and time that goes into the productions on Masterpiece Theatre. Your selections are truly outstanding. I know that I have used these productions to expand my reading library.

Cynthia Harris
Westland, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
My sister does not object to watching Masterpiece now that it is so much jumped-up soap opera. My own household, however, mourns for the old days when Masterpiece Theatre dealt solely with literature. As for your suggestion to check out the novel, I think not. I have read all -- all -- of Trollope, Austen, Wharton, Mary Ann Evans, et al., but your Ms. Gaskell is only in the revised canon because of feminist shenanigans. As for your supplying conclusions to anyone's unfinished work... well, my words fail me, as did hers.

Joann West
Hagerstown, MD

Although Mrs. Gaskell died before finishing Wives and Daughters, the book was published in 1866 with an ending supplied by her Cornhill editor who, we can presume, knew what she had in mind. "We know that Roger Hamley will marry Molly, and that is what we are most concerned about. Indeed, there was little else to tell..." he wrote. We at Masterpiece Theatre Online feel, of course, that the conclusion to the film version of Wives and Daughters was certainly within the spirit, if not the letter, of Mrs. Gaskell's work.

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Hurrah for Masterpiece Theatre! I thoroughly enjoyed your refreshing, beautiful, and emotional version of Wives and Daughters. I am 16, and completely fell in love with all of the characters and the story. I was inspired to read the book, and I must say that you have done a superb job in keeping the integrity of the book. Your productions inspire, delight, and refresh. Thank you, and I look forward to your next project.

Mercy Bell
Boston, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Wives and Daughters is enchanting. I am loving every minute of it. It has the feel of the very best of Jane Austen. It is a glimpse into small town life at any time in history. The characters are so vivid one immediately feels involved in their lives. They have the same strengths and weaknesses as the average person. Molly, in particular, is so strong and faithful. The acting is superb, and the casting must have been done with much care and thought. I don't think I've ever seen a Masterpiece Theatre piece that I did not like, but this one has my heart.

Nancy Dougan
Farmington Hills, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I extremely enjoy most of the Masterpiece Theatre productions that you present, but especially Wives and Daughters. I am only 14 years old, but my mother reads lots of old novels and my father is a theater professor.

I really liked the character played by Anthony Howell as Roger. He is such a good character -- he is like the perfect man. He is very handsome, yet down to earth and very open with his feelings, and can admit that he is wrong. I liked lots of the characters in this movie, but especially Roger and Molly Gibson. Is the person who played Molly Gibson the same actress who was in The Woman in White as the rich sister?

I really enjoyed this production. It had wonderful acting, and it inspired me to read the book, which I am now half-way done with. I watch it over and over and over and am probably wrecking the tape! I love all your English novel-based productions, and my sister and I even made up the CENA which stands for all the Classic English Novel Actors that we adore! Thanks, and keep up the awesome work.

Amy Hill

Justine Waddell, Molly in Wives and Daughters, also played Laura Fairlie in the 1997 BBC/Carlton/WGBH television film The Woman in White.

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
What a wonderfully entertaining film this was! There was never a dull moment, and at the end of each broadcast I was ready to see the other episodes. The entire story had a modern theme, and the period it was set in made it simple and yet elegant, visually. There was a real emotion that could be felt for each character, especially that of Molly and Dr. Gibson. This is a film that can be enjoyed by any romantic and historian. BRAVO!

Charli Kahler
White Heath, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I wanted to say thanks and congratulations for a wonderful production of Wives and Daughters. I ended up reading the book during the time the series aired. I am so impressed with Elizabeth Gaskell. She has a way of reaching the heart, and paints such clear pictures of true virtue. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the typical television fare. Please bring on many more such productions. My only complaint is that it should have been longer than 6 hours. Twelve hours would have been about right to capture more of the depth of the characters.

Bret Johnson
Elmhurst, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I rarely watch TV, but when I saw Wives and Daughters, it made me very happy to know that there are still a few people who make family friendly films with very good taste. This is the kind of movie that I would like to buy and make my daughters watch. There were a lot of moral lessons one could learn from this film. Bravo! May God bless you, and may you make more films that reinforce the image of women as valuing morals, manners, and decency. Thank you very much.

Beth Deguit
Richmond Hill, GA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thoroughly enjoyed Wives and Daughters. I thought Justine Waddell, the young woman who played Molly, was especially excellent in her understated portrayal of an intelligent woman with true integrity in a time when intelligence and solidity of character were not traits aspired to or valued in women -- as evidenced by Lady Harriet's closing line of the film. Please continue to bring these excellent character-driven British productions to Masterpiece Theatre whenever possible.

Donna Woodward
Vancouver, BC

As Ms. Woodward points out, Lady Harriet speaks the last line in the film version of Wives and Daughters: " Oh, it's not remarkable at all. You men concern yourselves with the eternal verities: we women are content to ponder the petty things in life."

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I happened across the first episode of Wives and Daughters purely by accident. I was skimming through the channels to my usual Monday night television show, when my remote control stopped working. In the amount of time it took me to get to get it back up and running, I had become engrossed in the production. I finished the series tonight, and enjoyed the message it sent so much that I can't wait to read the original! It is so true to life that you feel as if you are a part of it all.

Christine Gasch
Conneaut, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I usually only watch PBS in the mornings with my 3-year-old daughter, but one night I was flipping channels and found Wives and Daughters -- I was hooked. I put my kids to bed early just to watch it without disruption. Thank you for continuing to offer quality programming for the whole family.

Tami Kosters
Houston, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Wow, I am bowled over by your work here. I am not a learned person, especially in literature, but I have come to love some of these great stories such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and the latest Wives and Daughters. I am going to rush out and buy the novel so that I can glean more. Thanks for the nudge.

Sherri McLaughlin
Las Vegas, NV

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I applaud your presentation of Wives and Daughters. I have not yet read the novel, but it will surely be the next book I purchase! I had never before had the chance to watch an entire Masterpiece Theatre series, and it was wonderful to have something to look forward to before the start of each new school week! Wives and Daughters has also led me to take a course in British literature in the fall. Thank you.

Jennifer Brewer
Elizabeth, IN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just saw the third part of this mini-series last night and I was so impressed. I don't usually watch TV, but last night I was in the mood and Wives and Daughters was exactly what I wanted to see -- beautiful filming, excellent acting, and an intelligent script based on a novel by a fabulous female author. I wanted to comment on how lovely this program is, and how thankful I am for PBS and Masterpiece Theatre. I can't wait to see the rest of Wives and Daughters! Also Iain Glen is absolutely gorgeous!

Katy MacMillan
Berkeley, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was surprised by Lady Harriet's hairstyle in the last episode. I've never seen a woman in a period drama with a short hairstyle, and am curious as to the reason. I suppose it's explained in the novel, but as I don't own it, perhaps someone could enlighten me.

Kristen Zayon
Anchorage, AK

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thought it was a bit strange that the character Lady Harriet had short hair in the last two scenes of the last episode. I am sure that in the 19th century it was not common for a woman to have short hair. If the actress had to cut her hair for another reason, perhaps she should have worn a wig to be more realistic to the time setting. There was no explanation in the production at all.

Jan Hapstak
Washington, DC

We received many comments and questions about Lady Harriet's hair. In fact, a short, spiky hairstyle such as that Lady Harriet wore at the end of the series was considered ultra-fashionable in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in emulation of classical Greek style. In Paris, where the trend began, this hairstyle was known as 'chevelure a la Titus.' In her wonderful book The Art of Dress, Jane Ashelford notes "The new antique style did require boldness, for wearing a simple muslin dress based on the drapery depicted on Greek vases and statuary meant dispensing with corsets and reducing underclothing to a simple shift. The wearer had to bare her arms, draw attention to her bosom by raising the waistline and lowering the neckline of her dress, and have her hair cut 'in the manner adopted by the most eminent Greek sculptors.'"

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