#5--The Forsyte SagaThis is one of the lesser known Masterpiece Theatre series, I think because of the less familiar name. The Forsyte Saga is the story of a family over a generation, and all of the pitfalls and struggles of love with the restrictions of class and money. Gorgeous sets and clothes, with unflinching portrayals of cruelty within a powerful family.
#4--Jane EyreThe classic story of the young governess Jane Eyre, done by Masterpiece Theatre in sumptuous period setting, with plenty of angst. Casting for this was excellent.
#3--Pride & PrejudiceReally, do I need to say more than Colin Firth? Pride & Prejudice is one of my favorite stories to watch adaptations of on the big screen--I really enjoyed the most recent film, but there's something too awesome about this mini-series. P&P deserves the extra hours to unfold.
#2--Downton AbbeyDownton Abbey isn't quite as early period as the other series I'm spotlighting, but it's undeniably awesome. From the ridiculously detailed sets and costumes to the gorgeous soundtrack, this series is a lush treat that follows the fictional Crawley family, highlighting the changing times and how those events effect both the upstairs and downstairs at an aristocratic estate. Plus, anything created by Julian Fellowes is guaranteed to be off the hook.
#1--North & SouthMy novel is also set in the Victorian era, but long before I began writing it, I'd watched this BBC series no fewer than five times. It's crazy--or at least, it drove my husband crazy. But I'm team Thornton all the way! North & South is a four-part retelling of Elizabeth Gaskell's 19th century novel about the unlikely love story between Margaret Hale and John Thornton, in a time when England was in a state of intellectual and scientific revolution unlike any seen before. Yearning, conflict, progress--all wrapped up in a luscious Victorian setting. If you missed it, treat yourself.