Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Lark Rise to Candleford

My favorite PBS show from the BBC this season is not Downton Abbey, but rather Lark Rise to Candleford, a costume drama set near the end of the 19th century in the Oxfordshire hamlet of Lark Rise and neighboring town of Candleford. The BBC adapted the series from a trilogy of semi-autobiographic novels written by Flora Thompson, published between 1939 and 1943. What sets Lark Rise apart from other costume dramas, where sometimes the characters come across as self-centered and petty, the folks of Lark Rise seem genuine as they struggle to find the right path, even if their best attentions sometimes fall short. The program shows human frailty tenderly as the characters search for answers to their challenges in difficult times.

Because I am a big fan of EastEnders, the popular, gritty British soap opera, I laughed when I read this review of Lark Rise in The Guardian, “A rural Victorian EastEnders with telegram deliveries instead of murders.”  Whereas EastEnders offers an intriguing and somewhat addicting storyline in an unending series of hopelessly agitated characters, unable to find one modicum of mindfulness in response to each other’s failings, Lark Rise characters offer philosophical insights to the latest crisis. Those insights often happen through the humblest character.

Shall We Assist?

In this recent episode, Season 4, Episode 1, the townsfolk accused Dorcas Lane, main character and post mistress, as meddling in everyone’s business, causing untold distress. Dorcas, who consistently affirms that she only has one weakness, whether it is banbury cakes, feather pillows or baths, decides that this weakness of meddling must be addressed, and she vows to no longer interfere in her neighbor’s lives. The problem she almost immediately faces is whether to step into a situation in which she could be genuinely helpful. Standing on the edge of disaster seems cowardly but backing off from her commitment also seems like a half-hearted effort to check her interference. I won’t give away how the rest of the story unfolds, but this theme gave me pause.

What factors do we measure when to step into a situation. Of course, if someone asks us to help, we can without hesitation. What about if someone cannot see their situation objectively, overcome with emotion? After careful thought, can we offer assistance in form of advice, money or help? How do we assess how any of our generous offers might affect outcomes? We might ask ourselves if somehow this offering of advice plays into our own ego. Are we giving advice to sound important or because we feel we have the authority to do so? Are we responding to a dangerous situation that needs immediate attention? It takes courage to speak up in unjust situations where our input may not be welcome.

Offering advice is a difficult negotiation with only a few guidelines. Like Dorcas, best not to make hard and fast rules but rather carefully evaluate the factors in each situation. We may not always get it right, but a thoughtful response might offer folks in our times some comfort and help.

Lark Rise Celtic Tune


Lark Rise to Candleford, E-Book

Lark Rise to Candleford on Youtube

Pinterest Collection of Pictures


Christmas Episode
Inclusive of ghosts, as Brits like so much at the holidays!

Comments on: "Meddling: Our Weakness or Strength?" (8)

  1. guymax said:

    Not a fan of the TV show, but the book is one of my favourites. Beautifully written.


    • Interesting. I’ve been moved by almost every episode of the tv series and have just started to read the book, which I was very surprised was so well written because some literary reviews didn’t seem to support that view. If you have time to share some of your thoughts on the tv series, I’d like to hear more. Seems like no reason given for why the series was cancelled.


  2. guymax said:

    Nice to meet a fellow fan.

    Maybe it’s just me. She’s my favourite writer and I read a lot. The idea that she could have had a bad review from a good critic seems unlikely.

    I felt that the TV series turned her book into a mere story, and more or less a soap opera. That’s just what TV does,. But I only watched about ten minutes a couple of times. I expect it was very good. For me her book is not a suitable subject for TV. It is too complex and subtle. Her words convey so much more than a story. More than anything they convey her own personality, and a certain way of looking at he world, besides being beautifully chosen, and this is what goes missing when I watch it on the TV. She is ever-present in the book, and must have been a remarkable women from her insight and feeling for people and nature, but she seems to disappear completely from the TV series.

    Anyway, I hope you like it. I’d suggest forgetting the TV series as you read it, as far as possible. .


    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments! What amazes me about the author is the incredible detail she shares. Her story is like an historical record of the times; can’t imagine that too many authors have described the inside of hamlet homes as Flora has. Her story has been an inspiration to me that I might add to my humble recollections of my childhood, although I don’t think I could name a single wildflower . . . well maybe if I think long enough.


  3. guymax said:

    Yes, she is amazing. Such a shame we’ve industrialised her landscape. These days it’s like reading about a mythical kingdom. She’s exceptional in her descriptions of nature, and always full of little philosophical and psychological insights without ever having to use many words. I always feel like she’s speaking to me personally. I wish I had one tenth of her skill with language.


    • Just downloaded the tourist guide to Banbury and Bicester, with the hope that someday I might visit North Oxfordshire. I think I would start with the Fringford Walk. For now, will return to Chapter 5.


  4. guymax said:

    Good luck. Thanks for reminding me to read it again.


  5. […] in a small hamlet in Oxfordshire that I began to think again about vintage clothing. In my previous post, I described Lark Rise to Candleford, which the BBC broadcast as a series. An excerpt from […]


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