Look, we’re not always about books. Sometimes we watch movies made from books.
If you’re a historical romance fan, chances are you have strong opinions on book-to-screen adaptations (your favorite Darcy? is Heathcliff romantic or a psychopath — or both?), and chances are you’ve watched a few of the adaptations multiple times.
In the spirit of obsessive viewing, I’d like to share my Top Five Historical Mini-Series (your mileage may vary). All of these are based on books (two by Elizabeth Gaskell!), and all have their clutch-my-hand-t-o-my-chest-because-of-all-the-feels moments. (note: most of the clips are spoilers, so don’t click through if you don’t want to know who ends up with whom).
5. Lady Chatterley: Based on D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, this one has a very young (and often quite naked) Sean Bean romancing his employer’s wife. It’s hard to bring Lawrence’s particular brand of vulgar class consciousness to screen, but this version does a pretty good job of showing Lady Chatterley’s restlessness and why she falls so hard for Oliver Mellors.
4. Wives and Daughters: This miniseries, based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s book of the same name, is more about the friendships than the romance, but there’s a subtle thread of romance tying everything together, finally (FINALLY!) coming to bloom in this final rain-soaked scene.
3. Jane Eyre: This version isn’t the most accurate of all of the iterations of Charlotte Bronte’s governess and employer classic, but it’s one of the most overtly sexy. Plus Ruth Wilson does an incredible job balancing Jane’s mixture of vulnerability and pride.
2. Pride and Prejudice: I know. I didn’t make this my first choice. It is the standard-bearer for amazing historical mini-series, and I love it, and will watch it repeatedly, especially for Colin Firth’s portrayal of Darcy, and how true to Jane Austen’s original book it stays. But it has to stay in second place in my heart to:
1. North and South: Based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s (again!) novel, this one is another classic romance where pride overcomes prejudice (and vice versa). In addition to starring Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton, it’s got a young Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey‘s Mr. Bates) being all sexysurly.