Top positive review
108 people found this helpful
I watched it all in one day...
on January 14, 2008
...so addicted was I to the next turn of the plot!
"Lilies" follows the lives of the Moss family, led by Nelson "Dadda", comprised of son William (Billy) and daughters Iris, May, and Ruby. Mrs. Mary Moss has been dead approximately 15 years and Iris, the eldest, has become the lady of the house. Dadda works as an amateur veterinarian and herbalist. Iris creates confections and sells them to a local sweets store. May is in service to the nouveau-riche Mr. and Mrs. Brazendale. Ruby, William's twin and the youngest, just starts into peddling women's corsets at the beginning of the series.
The Mosses live in the early 1920s in Liverpool, and their lives are mirros of the times. The influx of jazz music and the popularity of the silent films persist throughout; the beginnings of social change through contraception and women's suffrage figure into it as well.
Religious differences and class distinction also play large roles. Dadda, an Ulsterman, is vigorously Protestant, and his sons were raised in his church--elder son Walter having perished in action in World War I.
The Moss daughters were raised in their mother's Roman Catholic faith (although their names would hardly have been given Baptismal approval for the era of their birth -- the 1890s -- by any Catholic priest, as none of them are saints names). On more than one occasion the division of churches causes issues within the family. Young Rev. Malachi Melia, the pastor of the girls' parish, plays a large role in many episodes.
The daughters are the central figures in this series, given its title from a toast made by Dadda that, while the bulbs he'd planted in the little garden on Portugal Street as a newly-married (and very young) man never prospered, he'd been blessed by "my girls, who are my lilies".
Iris is common-sensical but harbors a yearning for her own marriage and motherhood. The unlikely-named Domingo appears the perfect match--until a secret dismantles Iris' hopes and dreams. May, who initially seems as sensible as her elder sister, ends up in the midst of high drama with her employer, becoming pregnant by him. Ruby, the feistiest of the trio, becomes entranced by the social movements of women's liberation and embraces vegetarianism, even as her own dreams of swimming for the British Olympic team are dashed early on in the storyline.
Billy is a sad soul, having witnessed Naval action at the Battle of Jutland, only to be sent home, a victim of post-traumatic stress. Dadda is a man desperate to keep his family together, although his own violent temperment makes for some of the clan's worst problems. Toward the end of the series Dadda attempts to introduce his new romantic interest, Myrtle Bird, to his offspring, but she is soundly rejected--this was the only time I found Dadda sympathetic, as Miss Bird was more than appropriate for him and very clearly a good match for him.
"Lilies" truly offers it all--suicidal thoughts, adultery, bad marriages, sexual identity, class struggle, religious tension--except for a juicy murder, it covers a vast panorama of human conditions, struggles, tragedies, and, ultimately, victories.