My Lady Ludlow is one of the Elizabeth Gaskell books that the BBC miniseries Cranford is based on, and because the TV series used more than one of her novels the plots had to be altered so they could fit together. Seeing the series made me want to read what Gaskell wrote, and though sometimes it’s irritating when the book and screen version diverge, in this case reading the book was like indulging in a pleasant alternate reality. I had a little more time to spend with characters I had come to love, albeit in altered but recognizable forms. Probably it’s better to go from show to book rather than the other way around, because in the book Lady Ludlow’s high and mighty ways are softened and given more context, and if this book Lady Ludlow were met first the BBC portrait of her might cause indignation. In both book and miniseries Lady Ludlow rules over her little village domain and is sure that education for the lower classes is a bad idea verging on blasphemy. It renders them unfit for the life they have been called to by God, and will surely bring on a reign of terror as horrifying as the French Revolution’s. She comes to see things differently, but in the TV series Lady Ludlow’s hand is forced, though she is graceful about it, and in the book changing circumstances lead her to eventually allow her naturally sympathetic nature to guide her actions.