Masterpiece

Today, as you probably know, marks the premiere of the last season of Downton Abbey, a show, the unbridled popularity of which, makes me believe that I am not alone in my love of the genre, though I may be afflicted with a slightly more severe case than many.  Indeed, even now, I am fretting lest the episode not be made available online until tomorrow (which, in an ironically 21st Century twist, is the only way I can see it) and that I will be Left Out and bitter.

I am already pretty miffed that I missed the Sherlock special, which aired on Friday, and for some reason, was available online only simultaneously with the Eastern Time television broadcast. This was unprecedented and, well, a little mean, frankly.  Was I sitting here at 6pm?  Of course I was. Was there anything keeping me from watching British people in the garb of olden times?  Nothing whatever.  But they broadcast it on the sly and I'm a little wounded.  Did they forget who I am?  I am the woman who last year at this time had just finished watching about 40 hours of a thing I'll call The Postmistress. There were bonnets involved and misunderstandings overcome at the harvest festival and the like. I'm telling you. I can't help myself.

A couple of days ago, Netflix, in a spirit of graciousness far exceeding that of PBS, which seems hardly right, sent me two emails. One informed me that Season 9 of Foyle's War is now available, and the other that Season 13 of Poirot was awaiting me.  At least someone knows me.

Just now, looking through HBOs newly available films, I ran across this (I think) unintentionally hilarious description of The Painted Veil:

The loveless marriage between an upper-class lady and a quiet scientist takes a turn upon their move to a remote, disease-filled Chinese village in this adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel. Naomi Watts stars as the flighty socialite; Edward Norton is the husband who forces her to move with him to cholera-riddled Mei-tan-fu--where they finally get to know each other.

Ah. Well, that would do it. If you're feeling estranged from your wife, you now have a plan of action.

Even that, I'd watch. In fact, I think I already have.  Maugham? Flighty socialite? Irresistible, cholera-riddled village notwithstanding. (Though, really, if you like that sort of thing, I'd recommend Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust. Devastating.)

Meanwhile, I managed to muscle my way through Half of a Yellow Sun, which I do not recommend you read during a festive holiday season, unless you like a tall glass of civil war with your gingerbread. You might. Maybe you don't like to be too comfortable. It was a good book; I'm not saying it wasn't, but I'm glad to see the back of it.  Genocide!  Rape! Starvation!  Happy New Year!

I am now free to turn my attention to something else. Somewhere, I read an article that included the incredulous query, "Why don't more people read Charlotte Brontë's Villette?" For me, the answer was, "Because I didn't know it existed." But now, because some unknown lady in an unremembered piece of writing chided me about it, I'm making up for it.  I may be easily led. However, anything by a Brontë, though no doubt full of pathos, is, to me, automatically a better gingerbread accompaniment than the Nigerian civil war. 

Some days elapsed and it appeared that she was not likely to take much fancy to anybody in the house. She was not exactly naughty or willful; she was far from disobedient; but an object less conducive to comfort --to tranquility even--than she presented, it was scarcely possible to have before one's eyes. She moped: no grown person could have performed the task better; no furrowed face of adult exile, longing for Europe at Europe's antipodes, ever bore more legibly the signs of homesickness than did her infant visage. [...] I, Lucy Snowe, plead guiltless of that curse, an overheated and discursive imagination; but whenever, opening a door, I found her seated in the corner alone [...] that room seemed to me not inhabited, but haunted.

Put the kettle on, someone.  I'm in.