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Today is the last day of April and that means it is time to bid farewell to another exciting A to Z Challenge! I hope you have enjoyed this year’s A to Z Challenge about Family History and Ancestry.
In celebration of “ZEE End” (Sorry, couldn’t think of any Z words) I wanted to share 5 favorite stories about ancestry and family history that are portrayed in books, film, tv, and theatre.
These are in alphabetical order and not necessarily in order of favorites.
House of Winslow (Gilbert Morris)
Gilbert Morris is one of the most prolific and popular Christian historical fiction writers. His House of Winslow series covered American history like none other in 40 books. If you are more into medical dramas, you might like the Cheney Duvall, MD series, set post Civil War, that Gilbert Morris co-wrote with his daughter, Lynn Morris, featuring heartthrob Shiloh Irons (Cheney’s nurse) who might just have a connection to the House of Winslow…
The Inheritance (Louisa May Alcott)
I stumbled across The Inheritance in the ’90s and promptly fell in love with both actor Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds) and the beautiful Cinderella story. For ages I had it recorded on VHS and my friends would ask repeatedly if we could watch it during sleepovers. Sadly the novella it is based on did not live up to my expectations from the movie.
The movie revolves around a beautiful and kind-hearted orphan, Edith (Cari Shayne, Beverly Hills 90210), who lives with the Hamilton family as companion and friend to their daughter, Amy. She immediately forms an attraction with their out of town guest (Thomas Gibson) although she feels unworthy given her background. As you might guess — the titular “Inheritance” is, in fact, Edith’s.
Co-stars include Tom Conti (Reuben, Reuben), Meredith Baxter (Family Ties), Brigitta Dau (Ranma 1/2), and Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives).
Beautiful music, costumes, sets, horses, and the ultimate Cinderella story make this a great family movie.
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
Jane Eyre is an orphan child whose aunt passes her off to a charity school. The theme of identity plays heavily into the story as Jane goes from penniless orphan without family (who’ll acknowledge her) to a woman of fortune in her own right thanks to an uncle who claims her as his own. Also of interest are the identities and heritages of Adele (Mr. Rochester’s ward) and The Woman in the Attic (Bertha Mason).
My all-time favorite adaptation is the musical by Paul Gordon (Emma, Pride and Prejudice) although in this story the plot involving Jane’s uncle has been eliminated.
For a well-done movie adaptation, I would recommend Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson in the 2006 BBC miniseries.
The Mandy Series (Lois Gladys Leppard)
Mandy was my favorite series to read as a pre-teen. Mandy is a spirited pre-teen at the turn of the last century who is always uncovering mysteries and family secrets while getting into mischief with her best friends, Joe, Celia, Sally, Tommy, Jonathan, and Polly. In the first book, Mandy loses her father only to discover the long lost family she had never known about and her connection to the Cherokee Indians.
Personally I find the t.v. movies based on the series to be way off-script from Ms. Leppard’s original story and clownish but am I now looking at them through adult eyes?
I have Mandy to thank for my childhood dreams of boarding school (I never got to experience) and traveling through Europe (that I did start to accomplish before getting sick).
Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)
Tess is the oldest child of John and Joan Durbeyfield, uneducated peasants. However, John is given the impression that he may have noble blood, as “Durbeyfield” is a corruption of “d’Urberville”, the surname of an extinct noble Norman family. Tess, against her better judgment, goes to visit Mrs. d’Urberville hoping to claim kin and receive some help after the family’s horse is killed in a tragic accident that foreshadows the tragedy of this story.
Warning: This is no Jane Austen light-hearted fair and includes dark elements include rape.
My favorite adaptation features Justine Waddell (Wives and Daughters, Dracula 2000) as the most mesmerizing and haunting Tess.
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Did you have a favorite post from this year’s A to Z Challenge? Would you be interested in further posts in the future about family history?