Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I posted two short end-of-year reviews of books set in England: Birds of a Feather, the second book in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, and The Escape, the third book in The Survivors’ Club series by Mary Balogh. Tina reviewed That’s Not English by Erin Moore, a book I reviewed previously for British Isles Friday — I’m so glad that she enjoyed it, too!
We celebrated New Year’s Eve by watching Calendar Girls. I was sure we’d seen it before, but neither of us had any actual memory of it, so maybe not. We enjoyed the performances, the story, and the scenes of English villages and countryside.
I loved how big a role that the Women’s Institute played in the story. The WI often shows up in TV shows and movies about rural Britain. Their activities remind me of the Home Ec Clubs that my rural Indiana aunts and cousins were part of when I was growing up. These social organizations honor and support the skills required for home-making and community-building. It all seems a bit old-fashioned, now, but given the problems in current society like obesity and housing segregation, I think we could use a force like the WI in suburban St. Louis.
The main plot of the movie, the production of a nude calendar by a local WI chapter to raise money for charity, was based on a true story. The events were dramatized and fictionalized for the 2003 film. In 2008, the film was adapted to a play.
The Archers, the radio soap opera on the BBC that I listen to, had a story line about the Calendar Girls at the end of 2015. The fictional village of Ambridge put on the play Calendar Girls to raise money for the village hall that was flooded last spring. Normally, episodes of The Archers are less than 15 minutes long. But, they did a special program for the holiday season — an entire production of Calendar Girls as a radio play.
It was all fun and meta — the cast of characters on The Archers playing the characters of Calendar Girls. I don’t think you have to be a regular listener of The Archers to enjoy it, though. The radio play had significant differences from the film, some of which were more tender and others that were more funny. Give it a try! I listened to it while walking and cooking, so it was fun entertainment while I was doing other things.
Have you seen Calendar Girls? What did you think?