Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
on 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.