The new season of Downton Abbey has started, and with it, Lady Mary’s transformation from a grieving young widow to a savvy leader in her family’s business.
After months of deep despair, dressed only in black, she surprises a group of male landowners by joining them at a business lunch and taking her rightful place at the table. Wearing a stunning purple dress, she asserts her business savvy and authority with one simple question: “Now Mr. Taylor, what’s all this I hear about you giving up sheep?”
The buildup to the scene portrays not only Lady Mary’s grief, but also the efforts of her family and servants to help her reclaim her strength.
Only her father resists.
Lord Grantham is protective of his daughter and concerned for her well-being. But he is also convinced that a woman’s place is in the home.
As Lady Mary learns about the business, she disagrees with her father about the taxes on their property. He is noticeably uncomfortable…and the family begins to wonder if his concern about his daughter has less to do with her recovery than with her potential to challenge his decisions.
When Lady Mary asks her question at that lunch, we feel her power. And we admire the force of her presence. And, at the same time, like her, we sympathize with her father’s struggle to make sense of the new world.
I hope that in this new year, you find the courage to ask great questions and to assert your own opinions…and to understand that it may take some time for your fathers-and mothers-to recognize your strengths.
Is Lady Mary’s story your story, too?