Catching Up with Mr. Selfridge — Season Three Coming to PBS March 29 at 9PM!

Mr Selfridge S3

Season three of Mr. Selfridge premieres next Sunday with more than a few changes–some for the better and some for the worse.

For those who are curious–and wonder how it compares to Downton Abbey–I will say that it’s edgier, rougher even. This is not set in the bucolic English countryside, ruled over by an English aristocrat with generations of breeding and might at his back. Harry Gordon Selfridge is an American plutocrat, a captain of industry, who pulls Edwardian London into the twentieth century through shopping. His employees are mostly London born and bred, which means they’ve had to fend for themselves, and they have fears and hopes of a future they have to solve themselves. Nevertheless, the overarching theme that draws everyone together is family. Harry discovers this important lesson many times over, sometimes in the face of tragedy.

The Worse

Frances O'Connor as Rose Selfridge

Frances O’Connor as Rose Selfridge

Though the series is loosely based on the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the script cannot mess with real historical events, such as Rose Selfridge’s death in 1918. This takes place off screen, but the loss of this character on Harry and on the actual show is significant.

Which leads to the next absence this season…

Katherine Kelly as Lady Mae Loxley

Katherine Kelly as Lady Mae Loxley

Kelly went on maternity leave as season three was in production, so no more Lady Mae bon mots or fabulous fashions! (Never fear, she’s returning for season four *phew*)

The Better

Henri and Agnes

Gregory Fitoussi as Henri Leclair and Aisling Loftus as Agnes Towler

At long last, Henri and Agnes get married! Of course, being a drama, trouble looms in paradise, but let us savor this long-awaited moment.

The Impact of the War

The Impact of the War

The impact of the war on returning veterans and the women who entered the workforce in their place explodes this season in harrowing ways.

Aidan Mcardle as Lord Loxley

Aidan Mcardle as Lord Loxley

Maybe this should be categorized under “The Worse,” but I love to loathe this man! After Lady Mae’s successful divorce suit, Loxley cannot stop himself from stirring up even more trouble for Harry.

Returning Characters

Amanda Abbington as Josie Mardle

Amanda Abbington as Josie Mardle

The lovely Miss Mardle has been through so much because of that horrible Mr. Grove, but she always manages to rise above it. The less said about Roger Grove the better!

Greg Austin as Gordon Selfridge and Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge.

Greg Austin as Gordon Selfridge and Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge.

Last season, Gordon quit school to work for Harry. This season sees him stepping into his father’s shoes–and risking his position for a forbidden romance with shopgirl Grace Calthorpe (mirroring the real Gordon’s love life).

Amy Morgan and Sai Bennett as Grace Calthorpe and Jessie Pertree

Sai Bennett and Amy Morgan as Jessie Pertree and Grace Calthorpe

Grace now works in accessories (Agnes’s old position) under Miss Mardle, while Jessie is Kitty’s right-hand woman in cosmetics.

Samuel West and Amy Beth Hayes as Frank and Kitty Edwards

Samuel West and Amy Beth Hayes as Frank and Kitty Edwards

Kitty gets her man…but at what cost? Frank is still an underemployed, slightly disreputable journalist, and his quest for a good story tests their marriage.

Trystan Gravelle as Victor Colleano

Trystan Gravelle as Victor Colleano

Fresh from the war and still licking his wounds over Agnes breaking their engagement, Victor forges ahead with the plan for his own business. But instead of the restaurant he’d long dreamed of, Victor opens a swanky nightclub to catch the beginning wave of the Roaring Twenties. He will pay a hefty price–literally–to keep the club open.

Calum Callaghan as George Towler

Calum Callaghan as George Towler

We’ve watched George grow from bumbling, browbeaten boy to an assured, honorable man over the past two seasons, and this season he struggles to find his purpose as a returning veteran. But never fear, he still grows and matures in a heartwarming way.

Ron Cook as Mr. Crabb

Ron Cook as Mr. Crabb

I love Mr. Crabb! He is the heart and backbone of Selfridges. He is a far cry from the timid, tremulous accountant who nearly had a heart attack every time Harry proposed the expenditure of a huge sum of money.

New Characters

Kara and Hannah Tointon as Rosalie and Violette Selfridge

Kara and Hannah Tointon as Rosalie and Violette Selfridge

Technically not new characters, but with Rosalie and Violette taking center stage in season three, they were recast with real life sisters, Kara and Hannah Tointon.

Zoë Wanamaker as Princess Marie and Leon Ockenden as Serge De Bolotoff

Zoë Wanamaker as Princess Marie and Leon Ockenden as
Serge De Bolotoff

Rosalie Selfridge married Russian aristocrat and aviator Prince Serge de Bolotoff in a lavish wedding in 1918. His mother Marie, Princess Viazemsky, lives lavishly despite being in exile after the Russian Revolution. Both are arrogant, with a slightly codependent relationship that doesn’t bode well for Rosalie or Harry.

Sacha Parkinson as Connie Hawkins

Sacha Parkinson as Connie Hawkins

Kitty’s little sister joins Selfridges with as much determination to get ahead as Kitty (but with less cleverness than her sharp sister).

Naomi Ryan as Elsa

Naomi Ryan as Elsa

The cool and mysterious Elsa is Victor’s nightclub manager. Whether she looks out for Victor’s best interests or her own remains to be seen.

Kelly Adams as Nancy Webb

Kelly Adams as Nancy Webb

Nothing seems to get Harry’s motor revving better than an independent woman with a plan, and when Nancy Webb storms into his office demanding his patronage for a housing estate for veterans and their families, he is immediately smitten. But things may not always be as they seem…

All photos © Copyright ITV

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated…

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Two things have stolen my mind away from Edwardian Promenade and you amazing people: school and writing.

Last year, I returned to college for a new degree, which has me diving into archiving, public history, oral history, museum studies, and a host of other cool things to do with functional history.

This year, I sold a story to William Morrow/HarperCollins–A Fall of Poppies, an anthology featuring novellas by nine authors and centers on WWI’s Armistice Day as soldiers come home at last, and survivors pick up the pieces in search of hope, remembrance, and love. Those other eight authors are Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Lauren Willig, Kate Kerrigan, Marci Jefferson, Hazel Gaynor, and Jessica Brockmole! Look for this book in 2016.

But to reassure you that I have not forgotten about this blog, here’s a tentative list of upcoming posts:
Review of Erik Larson’s Dead Wake
Review of the latest spate of Downton Abbey books
Recap and review of Mr. Selfridge, in anticipation for its season three premiere on PBS
Revival of the Fascinating Women series and the WWI Wednesday series

In the meantime, I do post fairly often on Edwardian Promenade’s Facebook page, and you can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr.

Fascinating Edwardian Women for Women’s History Month

Reach back into Edwardian Promenade’s archives for a series of posts on fascinating Edwardian women!

Cornelia Sorabji

Cornelia Sorabji

Though Indian (Parsi) and a woman, Cornelia Sorabji accomplished the unimaginable in becoming the first woman to practice law in India and Britain. Sorabji was born into a large family of nine children, her father, Reverend Sorabji Karsedji, a Parsi Christian, and her mother, Francina Ford, an Indian who had been adopted and raised by a British couple. Sorabji’s mother was devoted to the cause of women’s education, and made her mark upon Indian society with the establishment of several girls’ schools in Puna (then known as Poona). It was through her mother’s contacts that opened the door for Sorabji to become the first woman to take the Bachelor of Civil Laws exam at Oxford University in 1892.

Lutie Lytle

Lutie Lytle

Though Lutie A. Lytle (1871/5-1950) was not the first black woman lawyer in America (the second, in fact), she was the first black woman to practice law in the South, when in 1897, she passed the bar in Tennessee. She then moved to Topeka, Kansas, where she then became the first black woman lawyer in that state. Her path to becoming a lawyer was extraordinary and interesting in and of itself. The child of “Exodusters” (a term applied to black Americans who migrated to Kansas after the end of Reconstruction), Lutie’s interest in politics and the law were fostered by her father John R. Lytle’s involvement in the Populist Party. Though her father’s campaign to become Topeka’s city jailer failed, Lutie entered into Populist politics and was appointed an assistant enrolling clerk for the Kansas legislature.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins

America is the land of dreams and opportunity, and Florence Foster Jenkins was wealthy enough to take advantage of this. Born to wealthy Pennsylvanians, Florence expressed an interest in music at an early age. She took piano lessons during her childhood and adolescence, but when at adulthood, she hoped to study abroad, her father refused to foot the bill. In retaliation, the headstrong Florence eloped with a physician named Frank Thornton Jenkins, no doubt hoping this would give her some measure on independence. Unfortunately, Florence’s hasty marriage ended in a bitter divorce, but when her father died in 1909, she inherited his entire fortune. At forty-one, Florence had the independence and the means to fulfill her dreams of becoming a professional opera singer.

(apparently, her life is going to be made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant!)

Guilhermina Suggia

“I can say with no doubt that there hasn’t been a cellist with the merit like that of the artist I’ve been teaching. She has nothing to fear with comparisons to her male colleagues. Mademoiselle Suggia, with high musical intelligence and a complete knowledge of the technique, has the right to be considered, in the world of the Arts, a celebrity.” Julius Klengel (1902)

Helen Gwynne-Vaughan

Helen Gwynne-Vaughan

Helen Gwynne-Vaughan represented the flower of the New Woman–gently-bred, but very well educated–and further established herself as one of the many heroines of WWI. Before the war, Gwynne-Vaughan made her mark as a botanist and mycologist, earning her Doctor of Science in 1907 at the age of twenty-eight. She was soon given her own research school of fungal cytology at Birkbeck College in London, and in 1909, she was named head of the botany department.

Alice Guy-Blaché

Alice Guy-Blaché

In 1894 she accepted a position as secretary with Léon Gaumont at a still-photography company. This business soon went under, but Gaumont, bought the inventory and established one of France’s first motion-picture companies. Alice followed Gaumont to his newly-formed L. Gaumont et Cie and rather than remain a mere secretary, she became his head of production, directing, producing, writing and/or overseeing the company’s films and reelers between the years 1896 and 1906.