In the 19th century episode, dashing Jeremy Northam has a splendidly cool manner in his stylish portrayal of the Victorian poet devastated by a forbidden love. And, as the other side of that attraction, Ehle presents exquisite grace. Aided by corsettry and setting, she conveys classic stateliness amidst her passion for Ash. Her face is of a structure that belongs on stamps or coins. Yet with all that high bred allure, she has no trouble conveying the depth of her passion and convincing us of its pains and pleasures.
The flashback scenes are very well done as well. Jeremy Northam is excellent as the lovestruck Ash, who through his beautiful poetry can seduce a woman-a lesbian woman-named Christabel LaMotte. Jennifer Ehle as LaMotte also gives a very good and layered performance as someone who embarks on a passionate, romantic affair that has no easy way out. Ash was married at the time of the affair, and LaMotte was involved with another woman named Blanche Glover (Lena Headey).
Harvey S. Karten
Combing through books of poetry in a specialized library he serendipitously uncovers between the pages some original letters exchanged between Ash and one feminist poet of lesser stature, Christabel LaMotte (who comes to life as Jennifer Ehle).
Gwyneth Paltrow as Maud and Jennifer Ehle as her Victorian "double" Christabel, are both gorgeous; both play their characters as equally repressed despite the greater freedoms of our own day.