As a romance reader, it’s no doubt you’ve also enjoyed your share of romantic movies. What a wonderful feeling when you discover a rendition of one of your favorite novels that you didn’t know about. True, the actor can never match the Adonis in your head, but still, we watch with bated breath to see if our favorite part was included in the script or unceremoniously left on the cutting room floor.
If you are a Regency romance lover (you know the Lords and Ladies who wore top hats, carried reticules, and went fox hunting circa early 1800’s) then undoubtedly you’ve memorized the lines of the most popular books-turned-movies like Pride and Prejudice and Emma. You might even extend your love to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Nicholas Nickelby from time to time.
I have to admit, I’m just as much of a period romance geek as the next. The memorable phrases still cause a pleasant ripple to run up my spine.
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” ~ Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
“I rode through the rain! I’d ride through worse than that if I could just hear your voice telling me that I might, at least, have some chance to win you.” ~Mr. Knightley in Emma
We all know these, but what about those you haven’t encountered yet? I wanted to share five movie moments you might not be aware of. If you have a romance you think I might enjoy that is not listed here, please comment and let me know. I am in just as much need of sustenance as the next romance enthusiast. Beware, these little blurbs will contain spoilers, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to be surprised, I beg you, watch the movies first.
5. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (1999 BBC)
Elizabeth’s books tend to be about more than the essential love affair. There is often hardship, death, and a clashing of classes. She seemed to want to stand on a soapbox with her novels and yell, “This is how the world is and here is how you should act!” I find her voice so upstanding, righteous, and modern. I mean this all in a good way. She had compassion for those who had hard lives and was (like Jane Austen) the daughter of a minister.
Much of Wives and Daughters is spent with Molly caring for anyone and everyone who needs caring for. She is sent all over the country to those who need her most and she encounters much complaining and fussing over things but doesn’t complain or fuss herself. She falls in love with a man, but is overstepped by her step-sister who is involved in a secret scandal with another man. Not only is this book about intolerance and bigotry, it is also a lesson about gossip and what damage it can cause.
True, the trek to get to this beautiful scene is long and the payoff might not be worth it for some, but when Molly’s man finally falls for her, the connection scene is so great, it outweighs the time she’s spent waiting for him. Much like Persuasion, she has waited while he’s gone overseas and grown into a man who can appreciate her.
The special scene starts when Molly sees Rodger Hamley out of the window. He is going back to Africa and she will not see him for two years. He is standing outside of her home in the rain, waving. He’s not allowed to come up because Molly’s father (the doctor) has barred him visiting her because of a fever in his household that she could possibly catch. He waves one last time and walks away. Molly, caught up in the fear of losing him, runs through the rain to catch him at the carriage house. The carriage pulls away and she knows that she will be waiting yet another two years for him. But from the other side of the courtyard, he calls to her.
“I couldn’t go.”
She runs toward him, but they stand a few yards apart, fearful of the fever and dad’s wrath if she should catch it. They are both being drenched by rain as he asks,
“Molly, dear Molly. Will you be my wife?”
“Yes, yes I will.”
4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (2007 BBC)
This story is my favorite of Jane Austen’s, though it doesn’t get as much credit as the others. I love it because although it is a romance, it tells the story of a horror addict, which is dear to my heart. I am also in the midst of a Northanger Abbey modern rewrite, so I watch this movie at least twice a week. I’ve recently found it on YouTube and that version has more scenes than mine on DVD. I do recommend it.
Catherine is a simple country girl who hasn’t seen much in the way of danger or intrigue, but she’s read many novels on the subject. She is a gothic novel enthusiast and has many daydreams of romantic horror happening in her life.
She meets Mr. Tilney, who also enjoys novels and has a great sense of humor. His family welcomes her into their fold, but there is a terrible secret having to do with the death of their mother. Was his father (General Tilney) involved in the final demise of Mrs. Tilney? As Catherine begins to uncover the truth, she is unceremoniously thrown out of their home by General Tilney in the middle of the night. She finds her way home, ashamed of what she’s thought and how she’s acted.
Runner up moment is when they come back from riding horses in the rain. He tries to brush away some dirt on her face, but almost kisses her, until his sister opens the door.
“Look at the state of you!”
This is when I think, “You might have seen us in a better state if you’d just waited a few more minutes!”
Top moment is when Henry comes to tell her he’s left his father’s money behind him so he can marry her. Not only is it a great love proclamation, but also adds a hint of comedy in.
“I told him I felt myself bound to you, by honor, by affection, and by a love so strong that nothing he could do could deter me from…”
“Before I go on, I should tell you, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll disinherit me.”
When he finally asks her to marry him, they kiss so passionately, they fall into the bushes.
3. The Glass Virgin by Catherine Cookson (BBC 1995)
This is one that flew under my radar at time of production because I wasn’t watching these sorts of movies in the 90’s. I recently watched this in its entirety on YouTube and it was such a happy little surprise for me. At two and a half hours, it doesn’t scream high-action, but the payoff is well worth it.
Annabella LaGrange is a little girl whose been brought up in a rich household but is suddenly plunged into poverty by unfortunate circumstances. The love interest in this isn’t the typical gentlemen in fancy dress, he is quite the opposite. As a man of limited means, he makes the most of his life and shows Annabella there are ways to survive, even if you aren’t given the best hand to play. Catherine Cookson tends to weave in darkness and distrust in everything she writes, so you may liken her more to a Bronte than and Austen. There are mean servants, evil deeds, a wicked father, prostitution, and death in The Glass Virgin, but I found it refreshing amongst all the oceans of cookie cutter period pieces we know today. These two go through so much in the course of the movie, by the end, you are cheering when they finally find their own kind of happiness.
There are so many moments in this feature to love like their first kiss and their long awaited wedding night, but my favorite lines are when Annabella says,
“But I thought you said you never wanted to leave here.”
“Ah, but now… if the Devil himself said he was takin’ you down to hell tonight, I’d say to him, ‘Not unless you take me too.’”
2. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (2002 BBC)
Daniel Deronda is a personal favorite of mine about a man who knows nothing of his heritage, yet finds his path by accident, or some would say fate. This story has personal meaning to me as my father’s side has never been revealed to me. I understand what Daniel is going through and the piece of himself that is lost because of no family connections on his mother’s side.
There are a couple of great scenes in this sweeping tale that is moving in more ways than one. It is a story about the love between father and son, son and mother, brother and sister, and between people of the same faith. It is also the story of a woman who seeks to gain riches by marriage and finds only heartache.
When Daniel finds Mirah in the lake, trying to commit suicide, your heart breaks for the sorrow which she has endured. Daniel, never having experienced such hardship finds himself compelled to help her, but it is more than pity that binds him to her. The way the story unravels to reveal his true path, it is hard not to feel it.
The moment when he comes to her and her brother is dying is my favorite bit.
“Mirah, let me share all your sorrows and all your joys.”
“You mean it truly? It’s me that you want?”
“I have spent my life in doubt and confusion but now I realize it was always your voice that I heard. Could you love me Mirah?”
1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (2004 BBC)
My current favorite pick for #1 love reveal scene is in this flick that’s been out for ten years now. I have just seen it over the last month and cannot stop watching! Like Titanic, this movie shows many different classes of people working to survive.
Another of Elizabeth Gaskell’s gems, this one explores early industrialism and how the wealth of factory masters came and went with this unreliable business. The beginning of unions and strikes is also spoke of. This book speaks more to friendship and kinship than to romance. There is the kinship between Higgins (you might recognize him from The Glass Virgin) and Mr. Thornton (which is a part I adore) in mutual trust master to worker. There is the friendship of Margaret and Betsy, two girls from very different worlds who find solace in each other. And there is the respect of mother to son, each doing their part to make the family survive.
There are several romantic moments and because they come so sparsely in this 4-part mini series, when they happen, you must pay attention to catch them. My favorite is not when he proposes his love to her, or when he accidentally touches her hand at tea. Nor is it when she saves his life in the cotton factory strike riots.
The runner up would be when she has to leave town after her father dies. He watches her carriage pull away and speaks aloud to the parting coach…
“Look back, look back at me.”
As he hopes… prays she cares for him.
But the number one must-see scene is at the very end when they meet by chance on the train platform. She tries to explain that she wishes to make a business agreement which will save his factory from ruin. He takes her hand and she takes his and kisses it. And then he takes charge and kisses her good. When her train is called, she leaves him, but returns with her bag from the other train car.
“You’re coming home with me?”
My answer? “Oh yes.”
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Inheritance By Louisa May Alcott
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens