The latest new show on Masterpiece is a series called The Paradise based on the French novel Au Bonheur des Dames by Émile Zola. It's 1875 in Newcastle, and small-town girl Denise (Joanna Vanderham) has just arrived, hoping to work in her uncle's drapery shop. Due to the intense competition he's facing from the department store across the street, he can't afford to give her a job, so Denise goes to work for the new competition: The Paradise. John Moray (Emun Elliot), owner of The Paradise, is a smart, good-looking young man who started as a draper's boy and worked his way to where he is now, running a beautiful, large store with many employees. Denise works in ladies' wear under the strict Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire) with her two roommates, Clara (Sonya Cassidy) and Pauline (Ruby Bentall).
|Denise, newly arrived from Peebles.|
I was afraid it was going to be too much like Downton Abbey for me to really enjoy it, but so far I have been delighted! It is like Downton in the lovely costumes and hairstyles, and the fashion being earlier is more to my taste. It also reminds me some of Larkrise to Candleford, perhaps because Ruby Bentall also plays Minnie, and Laura (Olivia Hallinan) appears as a guest in The Paradise episode 2. But really, The Paradise should be compared to neither of them, because the tone and feel of the show is completely different. The Paradise is so much more light-hearted and cheery in general, despite some sad/mysterious circumstances and the occasional darkness. I hope it continues that way through the last two shows of the season.
|Moray, looking dashing in his office.|
This isn't meant to be a full-fledged review, but I did want to make sure all my lovely "period drama" readers didn't miss this show! I am surprised by how much I am enjoying it, and how eagerly I look forward to each new episode. Right now, for a limited time, the first 5 episodes are available to watch in full online here, and the 6th, which aired last Sunday, will probably be available soon. The 1st episode may be taken down when the 6th goes up, though, so if you want to jump in and catch up, you may need to hurry! The content so far has included some kissing, an allusion to an unmarried couple spending a night together, some mild violence (a punch, a slap) and references to a tragic death.
|Pauline, Denise and Clara, Paradise shopgirls.|
The accents, the costumes, the hair, the music, all the loveliness inside the store... this is a beautiful show, with a very enjoyable story so far. I'm loving it, can't wait for Sunday night!