I have just finished watching Season Two of Lark Rise to Candleford produced by the BBC. I missed this series when it was broadcast on PBS but am making up for it now (thanks to my library which has all four seasons on DVD.)
The show is based on the semi-autobiographical novels of Flora Thompson. The action takes place in Osfordshire in the late 1800s in Lark Rise, a small farming hamlet, and Candleford, a neighboring larger market town. The three novels, Lark Rise, Over to Candleford, and Candleford Green were published between 1939 and 1943.
The main character is the indomitable and independent Dorcas Lane (Julia Sawalha) who runs the Post Office (and some might say, the town) in Candleford. I love the scenes in the P.O. with its high counter and its cubicles for sorting the mail. There is a brass telegraph machine, brown paper packages tied up with strings (someone ought to write a song!), and letters written on thick paper slipped into envelopes addressed in the most elegant of handwriting.
Miss Lane's cousin, Laura, comes from Lark Rise to live and work in the Post Office. She is the narrator of the adventures of the citizens of Lark Rise and Candleford.
The stories are not all sweetness and light. So far they have touched on alcoholism, women's suffrage (and suffering), family planning, child and spousal abuse, and (almost) adultery. Then there is mention of atheism, the theory of evolution, and the philosophies of Herbert Spencer.
But mostly, the stories concern themselves with love (both steadfast and unrequited), family, and friendship.
There are some wonderful characters not the least of which are the Sisters Pratt, Pearl and Ruby, who are the dressmakers in Candleford and wear fashionable, matching outfits. And who love a good gossip. Then there is Minnie the inept but good-hearted housemaid of Miss Lane's. And Thomas Brown, the shy but very religious, postman. I especially like the character of Queenie, the 'witch' of Lark Rise, with her herbal potions, hives of bees, and wisdom.
If you liked Cranford (and I watched not only the series but read the book by Elizabeth Gaskell) you will love Lark Rise to Candleford. I plan on reading the books as well. There seem to be some free copies online and there is a Kindle edition for $3.99. Best of all, my library has the trilogy in its collection.