Elizabeth Gaskell

The only one of Mrs. Gaskell's books that I have read is Wives and Daughters. I thoroughly enjoyed it--it has the sprawling plot and occasional heavy-handed moralizing of a Dickens novel, enlivened by some Austen-esque tart humor, particularly in the character of the heroine's stepmother. I heartily recommend it to anyone who has ever voluntarily read Middlemarch. There are two problems with it, however, that I feel obligated to mention:
  1. It's nine hundred-odd pages long, and
  2. Those nine hundred-odd pages don't conclude with the words "The End". Why? Because she never finished it. Yep, Mrs. Gaskell died right before writing the final chapters. She had told her publisher what she had intended to write, so the reader is assured (by way of an editor's note) that all the right people hook up, but failing to hear it in Mrs. Gaskell's own distinctive voice is a severe disappointment.

See notes 1 and 2.

In libraries and bookstores everywhere, although I notice most bookselllers don't exactly leap to restock Wives and Daughters, so you might have to ask your local bookstore to order you a copy.

(Availability Note: While we here at Wordcandy always encourage you to buy books (in fact, buy them through us! We're a very worthy cause!) we understand that sometimes, alas, one is flat broke. If that's the case, you can read copies of some or all of this author's books at this fine site for FREE.)

Other Recommendations:
Anything by Jane Austen

Middlemarch, by George Eliot

Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens
Posted by: Julia


18 Nov, 2004 01:18 AM @ version 0

Just wanted to add a resounding "hear, hear!" to the praise given Elizabeth Gaskell and Wives and Daughters. It's a lovely book that I never wanted to end (and wouldn't you know, it didn't.), but if its length or lack of ending gives you pause (wuss!) Masterpiece Theatre produced a really wonderfull mini-series. The casting is brilliant and there's even an ending (in the rain no less). It's a great companion to the book, which should still be read even though the actor who plays Roger is dreamy.

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