As someone who has not been to the area, it was a very good introduction to the marvelous homes, museums, art, literature and history that it is famous for. I really appreciated her use of tantalizing photos of historic craft equipment & home items in use during the Gilded Age; it is so nice to see some emphasis on the historic "domestic arts". Because Francine is a food writer, I understand the extended foodie emphasis, but would have preferred even more on the various historic homes, etc. But overall, it certainly makes me want to visit soon.
Although Ms. Segan is an endearing personality with many accolades in the culinary world, her Gilded Age lecture was a bit of a letdown. Like many of the participants, we have a home in Lenox and have learned quite a bit about the history of the area over the years. Ms. Segan's lecture was minimally about the Gilded Age, and more a tourist lure for foodies in the Berkshires. The mansions and stately homes in the area are beautiful and have fascinating stories. I suggest Ms. Segan could have selected 4-5 mansions, told about their histories, family owners, how these wealthy families came to build in the Berkshires and how cottage industries developed as a result -- the Lenoxdale Glassworks, the early Italian immigrants who were artisan ironmongers and came here to design and build the beautiful gates and enclosures of the mansions, the local people employed in these wealthy households, etc. She could have featured a day in the life of such a family and described clothing for various occasions, dressing for dinner, dressing for picnics (which she nicely described), etc. She omitted a number of outstanding homes such as Elm Court, Fanny Kemble's house, Cortland Field Bishop's estate and Ashintully. Although I love Guido's and Chocolate Springs, they don't belong in a lecture about the Gilded Age.
The content of The Gilded Age in the Berkshires, did not support the title. There was little about the subject, and what was included was insubstantial.
That said, the presenter’s deep love the Berkshires was evident and presented with warmth and enthusiasm. Her presentation was a charming review of, or introduction to, the region’s cultural treasures (and a lovely snippet of one of the area's natural treasures too). She included notes on local restaurants, and some fun offbeat details about local distilleries and chocolatiers.
The talk could be given a worthy new life via a new title, such as "An Introduction to the Treasures of the Berkshires," and the content somewhat expanded, perhaps reorganized, and no one will be in the least bit disappointed.