|Image from BBC|
It's Book-inspired!The Ladies' Paradise (translated in some editions as "The Ladies' Delight") with the following blurb:
The Ladies Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) recounts the rise of the modern department store in late nineteenth-century Paris. The store is a symbol of capitalism, of the modern city, and of the bourgeois family: it is emblematic of changes in consumer culture and the changes in sexual attitudes and class relations taking place at the end of the century. This new translation of the eleventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle captures the spirit of one of Zola's greatest works.I've never read any of Emile Zola's work, so this series piqued my interest and I'll be on the hunt for his books from now on.
What I liked about The ParadiseThe Paradise was first broadcast in 2012. You gotta love Netflix for adding on lesser known shows; I'm finding it is quite the treasure trove and I've even got a whole bunch of recommendations of movies and series based on books now. (So this feature may become a bit of a more regular thing on Guiltless Reading if I end up watching and writing about them.)
The first episode opens with a young country lass, Denise, coming to northern England from Peebles, Scotland. She visits her uncle Edmund Lovett, a draper whose shop is right across the posh and prestigious The Paradise. It's evident that The Paradise is slowly killing away the smaller and decrepit stores around it. Denise applies to be a shopgirl in the women's fashion department and gets in easy.
Hooked? That I was.
The series explores themes that you'd expect of a soap opera: love and lust; and status, influence, and money; and plenty of scheming and politicking ... all in very proper (and not-so-proper) 1870s fashion. It's interesting that this series features the lives of the gentry as well as of the common folk.
With the novelty of the concept of the department store, I found the old-worldliness of The Paradise quite charming. Many marketing and promotions schemes were explored and put to the test, a reflection of today's advertising - mega-sales, in-store themed promotions, even leveraging the power of gossip (today's social media).
|Denise in The Paradise (Photo from BBC)|
Love stories and its many complications abound: between Moray and Katherine Glendenning, between Moray and Denise (oh yes, but I was not liking this match-up), and even between two rather unlikely characters.
The Paradise had the feel of a family business. I really enjoyed the banter (and the jealousies) of the shopgirls, the hustle and bustle in the shop, the gossip in the kitchen, and so much happening that one can never really be bored.
Uh-OhsNow, right off the bat, I realized that the series is not the book; it's merely inspired by the book. For one, the original Parisian setting has been transplanted to England - which is entirely expected of BBC. As such, the are only references to the cultural openness and flamboyance of Paris hinted throughout the series. A little disconcerting was that all the names are Anglicized (Mouret becomes Moray). I am sure a lot of cultural references have been lost in this adaptation.
I loved the first season. The second season took on some strange turns and I wasn't quite happy with the ending ... but I could accept it. I just felt it was a little too predictable for my taste.
Verdict:A charming and endearing story of the first department store in England, replete with love story, the emergence of women's right to equality, and plenty of scheming. Gorgeous sets and costumes make this a sight for vintage fashion and history lovers. Go watch it while it's on Netflix!
Would you watch this? Have you read any Émile Zola?
The Paradise (TV Show) on Wikipedia