- Series: Wordsworth Classics
- Paperback: 624 pages
- Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New edition edition (January 5, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1840224169
- ISBN-13: 978-1840224160
- Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 1.4 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 265 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wives and Daughters (Wordsworth Classics) New edition Edition
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About the Author
Elizabeth Gaskell was born in London in 1810 but spent most of her life in Cheshire, Stratford-upon-Avon. She married the Reverend William Gaskell and had four daughters by him. She worked among the poor, travelled frequently and wrote for Dickens'smagazine, Household Words. Elizabeth Gaskell was friends with Charlotte Bronte and consequently went on to write her biography. Pam Norris is Reader in Literature at Liverpool John Mooores University
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At the center of the story is Molly Gibson, the daughter of the village doctor, who has been motherless from a young age and raised by her father. She is modest, considerate, and honest, if a little unworldly. When one of the doctor's trainees takes in a romantic interest in the seventeen year-old Molly, the panicked Mr. Gibson packs her off to Hambley Hall, where Squire Hambley, his invalid wife, and their sons Osborne and Roger treat her as a member of the family. Mr. Gibson rather precipitously proposes to a widowed school teacher, Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who has her own daughter, Cynthia, about Molly's age.
Her new family will be a challenge for Molly. The new Mrs. Gibson is vain, shallow, and manipulative, while Cynthia is a pretty and talented flirt who attracts the attention of many young men, including a marriage proposal from Molly's favored friend Roger Hambley. Molly becomes a keeper of confidences and painful secrets; her loyalty to her new sister will involuntarily involve her in Cynthia's indiscretions, which threaten to ruin both their reputations.
The novel was written for magazine serialization, with episodic chapters. The characters are well-developed and very human; even the ostensible villains are fully rounded and often sympathetic. The social behavior of men and women is repeatedly constrasted, often for humor but also to highlight contradictions. Mrs. Gaskell takes her time telling the story, but readers won't notice the length. The author died just before finishing the novel; a final note sketches the ending toward which she was plainly heading.
"Wives and Daughters" is very highly recommended to fans of Elizabeth Gaskell and her excellent novels.
I ran across the mini-series, on Prime and loved it. It prompted me to download all of her books. The characters are all special in their own right. There are no characters that don't belong in this story. Even though it was unfinished, at the time of Ms. Gaskell's death, it did seem to take a long time to get to the end, but that was probably my impatients, because the entire story is enjoyable and it is easy to get sucked into it for hours and not realize it. Even characters that were not carrying the story were mentioned enough to understand why they were included.
Definately worth the time
It's so rare to read a long, sprawling novel with such attention to detail. Even the minor characters are drawn with a completeness that speaks to Gaskell's ability. Molly, the main character, is thoroughly good - but she battles with real feelings in a way that keeps you from feeling like you're just reading an account of the travails of a goody-two shoes. Hyacinth and Cynthia are two of the greatest creations ever. Hyacinth should be just hateful, but Gaskell humanizes her in a way that is astonishingly deft. Cynthia, instead of being just a foil for Molly's goodness, comes across as a well-rounded person. Nothing proceeds exactly in the way that you expect.
It looks as if Gaskell gets compared to Austen a lot and that doesn't really do justice to Gaskell. She isn't as witty as Austen, the dialogue doesn't have that sparkle to it. But that isn't what she was trying to do, so judging her by that standard is just unfair. Instead, she's created a village peopled with characters so realistic, you feel as if you know them. She made her time become real. I don't know what it would have been like to read her books as a contemporary, but I know what it feels like to read them now. It is like stepping into a time machine.
Highly recommended, despite some errors in the Kindle edition. There isn't anything that subtracted from my joy at finding this book.
This novel has been turned into a BBC miniseries and is very good as well.
Most recent customer reviews
Wow, the events in the village of Hollingford have gripped my...Read more
Molly Gibson is the only child of the widowed doctor in the small town of Hollingford.Read more