Presence of Love

Coats of Many Colors

In many ways, this one reminded me of some of the gentle English Family-oriented romances written in mid 20th century that are such a comfort and joy to me. Or some of the later stories by a favorite author, Rosamunde Pilcher. A fragile, introverted, and very nice young woman escapes to Cornwall to recover from some trauma. There is usually a granny involved, as well as a young child, a dog, a cottage, a close rural community, and an upstanding but grouchy love interest. This one fit the bill except the love interest was just nice, not grouchy.

This one largely deserves the very positive reviews it has gotten. Eloise Mumford is wonderful in this as the panic attack prone Joss. She is seeking tenure as a professor of English but her paper has been rejected. She is still grieving the death of her mother a year earlier and takes pills to stave off a life-long anxiety problem. Her best friend discloses that Joss’s mother had planned to take her to her childhood home in Cornwall as a surprise for her birthday and insists that Joss go anyway and work on her paper there, which she does. Everything proceeds very predictably as usual, but as Hallmark devotees know, if a Hallmark Romance appears on Hallmark Murders and Mysteries, it is going to go a little deeper than the usual rom-com shenanigans.

Famous British Actress (Downton Abbey, etc., etc.) Samantha Bond plays the mother of Daniel, the owner of the farm/B&B and Joss’s love interest. She is fighting with her son who wants to put Wind Turbines in one of their sheep fields for the sorely needed income. Underneath her polite façade, she is cold, rude and hostile, change-averse, and old-fashioned despite her snazzy sweaters and chic haircut. She was so remote and scary that when she breaks down and kindly helps Joss with her grief, it is genuinely touching. Meanwhile Joss mentors Daniel’s dyslexic daughter. So there is quite a lot going on, including a mysterious woman that may or may not be a ghost or a figment of Joss’s imagination. There is lots of English poetry quoting which was nice. The scenery and photography were beautiful.

The moral of the story is that security and safety are over-rated and sometimes taking chances and living a little is the path to take. Instead of pursuing tenure (security and safety) which was only adding to her stress, she decides to live in the moment and move to Cornwall to be with Farmer Dan and his little family and also travel. We have a “One Year Later” epilogue in which we see she is happily in charge of the literary festival and happy in her relationship with Daniel. Speaking of the epilogue, I was going to refrain from adding to the general criticism of the vast number of coats that Joss crammed in her suitcase to wear in Cornwall. (Blue, Pink, Red, Houndstooth, and a Puffy Jacket.) But when she was sporting still ANOTHER DAMN COAT one year later (Tartan) I couldn’t resist.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

March 16, 2022

Valentine’s Kiss

OTT Domestic Drama

This is an excellent drama for those in the mood for an emotional roller coaster of consequences when the husband of a parenting guru asks for a divorce. Our heroine has made many mistakes in her marriage and as a mother, but she is still someone you root for. The cheating husband is, unlike his soon to be ex-wife, not a nice person to put it mildly. It has everything in it but the kitchen sink: Wedding, unplanned pregnancy, several career crises, break-ups, reconciliations, adultery, comeuppances, romance, friendship, estrangement from children, custody battles, alimony, lawyers, and of course a satisfying and happy ending for the people we like. Adding to the overall appeal of the film are the considerable talents of John Hannah, Rupert Graves, Eileen Atkins, and Caroline Catz of Doc Martin fame. It’s nothing like Rosamunde Pilcher would have written, but I found it very entertaining.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

March 18, 2020

Unknown Heart

Flawed but Still Entertaining

This was a pretty enjoyable drama and love story. A woman receives a heart transplant and falls in love with the doner’s widower. My enjoyment was tempered by my thorough disapproval of the heroines actions and the actions of the “other man.” I don’t like adultery in my heroines unless it is excused by bad behavior by the husband and in this case it is not excused. I didn’t like any of her choices until the end. The fact that getting an organ from another person would cause one to reject a loving husband and become attracted to the grieving widower of the donor was just too preposterous for me to swallow. This was much better done in Return to Me with Minnie Driver and David Duchovny.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

March 9, 2020

Four Seasons

A Guilty and Totally Preposterous Pleasure

A very enjoyable soapy family drama “inspired by” Rosamunde Pilcher’s gentle family dramas. LOL. Domestic Abuse, Cheating boyfriend v. lovable boy next door, suicide, long lost grannies coming home, shocking twists, evil grandpa, and financial shenanigans, a stunning last will and testament, plus much much more! Senta Berger shines as the wise and attractive grandmother who gets a second chance at love with a charming and funny Tom Conti. I couldn’t take my eyes off her nose though. The director could have chosen more flattering angles. Michael York is very effective as the powerful older son of the family patriarch who oozes menace out of every pore. What made this 4 part yarn hold together though, in my opinion, of the sweet young daughter played by Emma Watson look-alike Paula Kalenburg. She had to endure many jolts to the system both good and bad but carried on with aplomb. Confrontations and promises of confrontations abound keeping tension and suspense in play. There are two major shocks in the last two parts that put the icing on the cake.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

March 9, 2020

The Other Wife

Supposedly Associated with Rosamunde Pilcher.

I thoroughly enjoyed this soapy family drama. Nothing like Rosamunde would have written, but still it is domestic and romantic. Two wives of the same man, both nice women, betrayed by John Hanna, the conflicted bigamist. The collision course they are set on kept the tension dialed up to medium high and when the truth is finally revealed it was suitably dramatic. Throw in an estranged father, a plane crash, bankruptcy, a boyfriend stealing sister, a war-hero love interest lurking in the background, a cheating lying brother, financial shenanigans, a daughter jealous of her mother, a heart attack, and a gold mine and I’m all in. Also ballerinas! Seriously what more could you ask for?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

March 7, 2020

Rosamunde Pilcher’s Shades of Love (This September)

50 Shades of Family Fun in Four Parts*

By way of introduction, it is important to know that Shades of Love is a sequel to Rosamunde Pilcher’s September. It has an entirely different cast from the miniseries based on the book which debuted 14 years earlier. It is not based on a Rosamunde Pilcher novel, but takes her characters from September and projects what may have become of them about 10 years in the future. For those who have read Pilcher’s beloved The Shell Seekers and September, it is interesting to note the whiplash-inducing turns in the Noel Keeling character. In Shades of Love he is back to Nasty Noel of the first novel. Poor Alexa of September really got the short end of the stick! If you liked her happy ending in September pretend this one never happened. Although fear not! She does come about in the last episode.

Each of the four parts of this mini-series has some closure while setting up the next episode with some unresolved plot points. We have illicit affairs resulting in pregnancies, adultery, tragic love affairs, boy next door happy love affairs, revenge, forgiveness, betrayal, blackmail, bankruptcy, corporate shenanigans, and 2 cases of grown-up children discovering their Mommies and/or Daddies are not who they think they are. All is resolved and ends happily for most after much trial and tribulation. Though Beware: there are several deaths mixed into the pot.

There are some well-known actors in this among the older set, and all do their jobs pretty well, although Harriet Walter is terribly wasted in a nothing part. Rebecca Night, who plays one of the most important roles as Laura, was a disappointment. She had a strangely affected way of speaking which was very distracting and a very placid way about her which was not at all engaging. Rosamunde Pilcher excels at writing about nice and good women that you really root for. The actress just made this character dull. Adrian Lucas was a great villain, and the German actress, Esther Shweins, who played the mysterious Olivia Thorpe in season 2 was a stand-out: Class, beauty, charisma, and dignity. She even managed to rise above the gigantic and nonsensical plot hole in the last episode.

All in all, I enjoyed it for what it was but did not rise to the quality of Coming Home, The Shell Seekers, or any of Rosamunde’s legitmate novels that were brought to the screen. The scenery was beautiful. **7 out of 10 stars**

*Apologies to Rosamunde for using the phrase, “50 shades” in conjunction with anything she is even vaguely associated with.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

July 18, 2016