Branka Katic as Clemence. Screen cap. from Season 2.
After his wedding to Katherine at the end of season one did not go ahead, the disgraced Moray is living in Paris, writing lots of soulful letters home to Denise. Denise continues to work at the Paradise along with Clara, Miss Audrey, Dudley, Sam and Arthur. Katherine's father has died, and she has married the war veteran Tom Weston, who is now the owner of The Paradise. Katherine plans to have her revenge on Moray by allowing him to once again build up the failing store, increasing its value, then sell it out from under him. Weston is jealous of Moray and also hopes to destroy him, but Moray has loyal friends who will not allow that to happen.
The romance aspect of the show is there from the start, with the first episode containing two marriage proposals, as well as jealousy and loaded stares aplenty. However, the second and final season of The Paradise
also has a feminist current running through it far more strongly than in the first season. This begins with the arrival in the store of the flirtatious Clemence, a glamorous Parisian saleswoman Moray met during his time in exile. Clemence encourages Miss Audrey and the shop girls to question the established tradition that a married woman must not work. As the season goes on Denise's ambition causes her to come into conflict with Moray more and more, culminating in her fervent declaration "I am not your posession!" Pretty radical stuff for the 1870's!
Denise and Moray's loving, though sometimes difficult relationship is contrasted with the mutual loathing of Katherine and her new husband, who uses his wife's love for her stepdaughter to try to control her. There is a lot of plotting and scheming, leading up to an epic end of season showdown to determine who owns The Paradise once and for all. And of course there are still loads and loads of gorgeous costumes to drool over.
Season 2 lives up to the excellent writing, acting and costume and set design of season 1. If you like beautiful dresses, historical romance or stories about women fighting to make their own way in the world then this show is for you.
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