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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon August 16, 2009
North and South is one of my favorite classics. The dark, tragic and romantic tale of a young clergyman's daughter's sudden move to the industrial parts of Northern England captivated me from beginning to end, especially after watching BBC's 2004 four-part series adaptation. Wives and Daughters is another favorite. It is lighter than North and South, yet it is nevertheless heartbreaking and tragic in certain areas, a cannot-put-down dramedy that contains various storylines and social topics. Imagine my surprise and delight to discover that Elizabeth Gaskell had written a collection of gothic short stories. I've become an avid reader of the genre, and it can always be appreciated when you get to read one from a classic author.

"Disappearances" sets the perfect tone. Gothic is all over the rather morbid storyline. "Curious, If True" is also a perfect gothic, especially because it deals with characters from fairy tales. "The Old Nurse's Story" is the proverbial ghost story, as is "The Poor Clare." "The Doom of the Griffiths" centers on an ancient family curse that now haunts the new generation. But my two favorite stories are "Lois the Witch" and "The Grey Woman."

"Lois the Witch" takes place in Salem. Lois Barclay travels from England after she loses her parents. She wants to find her New England relatives, the Hicksons, a Puritanical family, with tragic results. It takes place during the Salem Witch Trials, so you can imagine the rest. "The Grey Woman" takes place in eighteenth century Germany. A young miller's daughter marries an aristocratic man. She thinks she has made a perfect match, but little does she know that her husband is not what he seems. These two are rather unique gothic stories. I love the historical language as well as the spookiness of them.

First published in 1850-1860, the stories found in Gothic Tales are memorable and wonderful. I couldn't put this collection down. Elizabeth Gaskell has once again impressed me with her versatile style and beautiful writing. She had been friends with Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte. She'd had her own fame, though in a smaller degree. In my opinion, she deserves as much recognition as Dickens and the Brontes. So, if you haven't read Gaskell, what are you waiting for? This collection would be a great way to start.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2010
Mrs. Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-65) was a great novelist. She wrote among other classic novels: "North and South"; "Wives and Daughters"; "Cranford" (recently serialized on Masterpiece Theatre); "Mary Barton" and "Sylvia's Lover." Less known is her work in the short story genre. She wrote many pieces for the periodical Household Words edited by Charles Dickens, the Cornhill magazine and other Victorian periodicals. She was also the wife of the Rev. William Gaskell a Unitarian clergyman in Manchester; a mother; traveler and one of the earliest and best biographers of Charlotte Bronte who was her dear friend.
Gothic Tales is a collection of eerie tales compiled in a new Penguin Revised edition. Nine stories are included in the collection which are:
Disappearances-a short article on unusual disappearances no one has been able to explain.
The Old Nurse's Story-The tale of a young girl who is pursued by a ghost who looks like her.
The Squire's Story-The story of Mr Hearn a highwayman.
The Poor Clare-The tale of Bridget and her daughter Mary. Mary disappears and Bridget seeks to find her but not before putting a curse on Mr Gisbourne who had shot her dog.Bridget's curse results in her grandchild Lucy's shadowing by a fearsome "Other." In her later years Bridget becomes a religious nun in the Clare order.
Lois the Witch is the longest and best of the stories in the collection. It recounts the tale of an English girl who is hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. This nearly 100 page novella reminds us of the same type of tale spun by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is it the only piece in the collection which is set in America.
The Crooked Branch is the story of a quaint old couple who have a son who becomes a criminal. He returns to the family farm where he participates in a robbery.
Curious, If True is a delightful story of a man who wanders in a French forest. Arriving one night he finds a castle inhabited by fairy tale characters.
The Grey Lady is an excellent story of a German woman who marries a French nobleman who turns out to be a murderer. Her exciting escape with the assistance of a faithful servant makes for good reading.
Mrs. Gaskell deserves to be better known among readers. She writes in a clear and easy to understand style knowing best how to tell a story. I always enjoy her works! These little gothic tale gems are worth your time and money!
the Doom of the Griffiths-Resembles the Oedipus story of Sophocles in which a son kills his father.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2008
This book was a great, and very pleasant surprise. I did not know that she wrote short stories, and I really enjoyed reading her "gothic" stories. I have always liked her as a writer, and this book is noiw a wonderful new addition to my colection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2011
Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favorite writers and I have enjoyed all of her books that I have read so far. She is so unrecognized, and it is such a shame because her work is so good. She has such a talent for creating believable characters and strong story lines. I truly adore her work. On the other hand, I have never been a fan of short stories because I feel that readers never get a real chance to connect with the characters and it is harder to establish a plot, development and keep the pace going without it feeling rushed. So I picked this book up to complete my collection of her work and hoped for the best. I have to say that I loved it. All of the stories in the book are worth reading with just the right amount of character development, suspense, horror and just plain creep factor. I have to say that my favorite story is the Old Nurse's Tale, I could not put the book down until the story was completed and I felt like my hair was standing on end the whole time. I think the mixture of creepy cold old home with tragic family secrets was brilliant and suspenseful. I would recommend this book to any fan of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels or any lover of Victorian Gothic Tales or novels, it is truly a book that belongs in any of these libraries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2011
Can't stop watching DVD of North & South so started ordering Gaskell books. This one is terrific so no doubt will love reading N&S. However wish somebody would tell Laura Kranzler (Intro. & Note) her pg. 350 #26 Magdalen note is not correct. Mary Magdalene was healed of evil devils St. Luke 8:2, Thomas Nelson Bible 1975. The true condition goes along perfectly with "The Poor Clare" story. There are many Marys in the New Testament but this one was not called a prostitute. Unfortunately church leaders have given her that reputation. Enjoyed the other Kranzler notes & will read as much Gaskell as I can get my hands on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2013
Her tales are well worth reading today. "Lois the Witch" and "The Grey Lady" are short novelettes well worth reading. They are not 400 page novels like many Gothic fiction, but they are well developed and probably achieve a greater effect because of their conciseness. Most readers of Victorian supernatural fiction know of Ms. Gaskell as the writer of the superb "The Old Nurses Story," but these novelettes show that she was a master of the Gothic form, and are very enjoyable reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2013
First, prompt shipping from the seller. These are wonderful short stories, suspenseful and chilling. The most chilling in my opinion is "Lois the Witch," a tale of witchcraft and paranoia in 17th century Salem. These stories also contain a great deal of historical information, presented in a lively way, that I really found interesting.
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on January 12, 2015
A great vacation book! So much fun and it's easy to get lost in her amazingly creative and freakin' spooky stories!

A side note and question: Is the cover photo of a Caspar David Freidrick painting? Sure looks like it. If you are a lover of gothic horror, it's highly recommended that you check out his work because it really goes along with these stories!
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2014
This should have been rated fair, not good. Several pages bent down. Cover definitely only in fair shape. Bit of a disappointment. I
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