Read Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell Pam Morris Online


Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centres on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new step-sister enters Molly's quiet life – loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful sSet in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centres on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new step-sister enters Molly's quiet life – loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.Wives and Daughters is far more than a nostalgic evocation of village life; it offers an ironic critique of mid-Victorian society. 'No nineteenth-century novel contains a more devastating rejection than this of the Victorian male assumption of moral authority', writes Pam Morris in her introduction to this new edition, in which she explores the novel's main themes – the role of women, Darwinism and the concept of Englishness – and its literary and social context....

Title : Wives and Daughters
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140434781
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 679 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Wives and Daughters Reviews

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-06-23 00:02

    This 1865 novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, who also wrote the lovely North and South, is a pleasant but rather leisurely and lengthy tale of the personalities that inhabit an English country town in about the 1830's. The novel centers around Molly Gibson, the quiet and somewhat passive, but deeply sensitive, daughter of a widowed country doctor. We meet Molly and her father when she's an innocent 12 year old girl, about to spend the day visiting the estate of the local gentry, Lord and Lady Cumnor, so excited she can hardly sleep the night before. This visit won't turn out the way young Molly expected. These childhood scenes set the stage and introduce us to many of the characters who will play significant roles later on in the story. When Molly is a teenager one of her father's medical students, who boards with the Gibsons, falls in love with her. Mr. Gibson intercepts the young man's letter confessing his love and promptly ships Molly off to visit another local family and sends the young man away. But doing that isn't enough to allay Mr. Gibson's concerns, so he turns around and promptly proposes marriage to an attractive local widow (who has a daughter Molly's age), thinking a new mum for Molly is the ticket. It might have been a good idea to get to know her better before proposing. Just sayin'.Molly's new stepmother will prove a trial in her life (and in Molly's father's life as well, for that matter, although he's better able to deal with the disappointment, mostly by immersing himself further in his medical practice). Molly's new stepsister is much easier to get along with, but she'll also--eventually--end up bringing some serious complications to Molly's life. The first two-thirds of this novel was mildly enjoyable but didn't really engage me; I set the book aside several times while I read other books, without feeling terribly anxious to get back to it. Molly is sweet and kind and innocent, but I was getting a little impatient and frustrated with her and the people in her life. I seriously thought that I was going to have to rate this book three stars, and all my literary GR friends would be disappointed with me and my lack of taste and discernment and probably unfriend me en masse. Luckily for me, I really loved the last part of this book, enough to pull the overall rating up to four stars. The characters gradually became very real to me, with their quirks and failings described frankly, but with affectionate humor. Especially Mrs. Gibson, who sets new standards for bird-wittedness and vain self-absorption.Lady Cumnor: "I was only speaking of the folly of people dressing above their station. — and what must the foolish woman do but begin to justify her own dress, as if I had been accusing her, or even thinking about her at all. Such nonsense! Really, Clare, your husband has spoilt you sadly, if you can't listen to any one without thinking they are alluding to you. People may flatter themselves just as much by thinking that their faults are always present to other people's minds, as if they believe that the world is always contemplating their individual charms and virtues.""I was told, Lady Cumnor, that this silk was reduced in price. I bought it at Waterloo House after the season was over," said Mrs. Gibson, touching the very handsome gown she wore in deprecation of Lady Cumnor's angry voice, and blundering on to the very source of irritation. "Again, Clare! How often must I tell you I had no thought of you or your gowns, or whether they cost much or little; your husband has to pay for them, and it is his concern if you spend more on your dress than you ought to do.""It was only five guineas for the whole dress," pleaded Mrs. Gibson.The strength of this book is in the keenly observed personalities that inhabit the town of Hollingford and this novel. It was rather slow in parts, but overall an enjoyable coming-of-age tale with a little romance, that explores relationships between family members and friends, and how people can hurt and help each other.One more warning: Elizabeth Gaskell suddenly died just before finishing this novel, which was being published on a serial basis in a British magazine. There's an afterword by her publisher, explaining what was going to happen in the story, and anyway it's pretty clear where the main relationship is headed, but it still left me with an unsettled feeling--enough that I promptly went off on an online search to see if there's any decent fanfic of that last missing chapter. I didn't find any. But watching a YouTube clip of the end of the W&D miniseries helped! Just be mentally ready for it when you read this book; otherwise it's a bit disconcerting.April-May 2015 group read with the North and South GR group.

  • B0nnie
    2019-05-31 01:09

    To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl…Wives and Daughtersreads like a fairytale and we are immediately enchanted by its gentle charm. Stepmother, prince, villain, woods, a ball, castle, climbing roses, birds and beasts. It's all there.However, the stepmother is not evil - just annoying and shallow. The prince is but a squire, the villain merely ungentlemanly. The woods is a friendly lesson in botany, the ball disappointing, the castle entailed, its timber rotting. Roses get tossed into the fire,'It is Mr. Preston,' said she, in answer to Molly. 'I shall not dance with him; and here go his flowers—'Into the very middle of the embers, which she immediately stirred down upon the beautiful shrivelling petals as if she wished to annihilate them as soon as possible. Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell spins this long leisurely tale with such attention to detail, characters, and dialogue that you feel transported to another time and place. And bittersweet it is. Death, blackmail, secret promises, undisclosed marriages, politics, scandal, the worry of money are ever present. Her 'wicked' characters are presented with enough sympathy that you enjoy them as much as the good ones. Take Hyacinth Gibson for example - she corresponds somewhat to Mrs. Bennet inPride and Prejudice. Austen totally denied all sympathy to tedious Mrs. Bennet, but Gaskell makes sure we see Hyacinth as a person - selfish and shallow - but not uninteresting, and not incapable of sincere kindness.And the good characters are flawed - sometimes you are not certain to which side they'll land. Or where you'll land, given the exasperating qualities some of them have. There is mystery too given to these people, hints dropped about things that are not revealed by the author.I am completely in love withWives and Daughters, so take my 5 stars you pretty little thing.

  • Bookdragon Sean
    2019-06-23 18:56

    Do you like fairy tales? Well Gaskell certainly did:"To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl; wide awake and longing to get up, but not daring to do so for fear of the unseen power in the next room - a certain Betty, whose slumbers must not be disturbed until six o'clock struck, when she wakened of herself 'as sure as clockwork', and left the household very little peace afterwards. It was a June morning, and early as it was, the room was full of sunny warmth and light.”I do love a good Victorian novel. They’re plot driven and entertaining, sometimes even a little enchanting. They also depict the concerns of the age. At the heart of this a large social transition: the man of art, the man of poetry and romance, is being replaced by the new man of science, the new man of Darwinism and logic. Gaskell’s narrative suggests that the former is a dying breed; he is unsuccessful in the modernising world: he is outdated. Contrastingly, science prospers. Such can be seen with the Hamley brothers. Incidentally, Gaskell was a cousin of Darwin’s, and her acceptance of new thought can be seen: she clearly favours it. Romance drove the plot forward; it was a powerful depiction of love that endures all the ridiculousness, and all the cunningness, of the other characters. But, it irked me how long it took the pair to realise it. Gaskell makes it painfully obvious to the reader that this pair should be together, and standard storytelling practically dictated that this is how the novel should end. The pair seems to be painfully unaware with what was in front of their faces for most of the story. Though I do suppose that was what Gaskell was going for; she wanted to anger the reader: she wanted to make them shout and rage about how these characters should be together. It annoyed me a little; these could have been together form the start and I wouldn’t have had to read 700+ pages of semi-dry narrative. “.......he had never known her value, he thought, till now.”And there’s the rub. (I’ve got to stop inserting Shakespeare quotes into reviews!) The novel was long winded. I mean it’s huge. I do like big novels. Sometimes a story is so long that it needs to be told properly. I get that, and I appreciate that. However, I found this to be awfully drawn out. There were so many scenes in which the characters had repetitive conversations and lamented over the same facts. There were so many parts that just didn’t add to the greater whole of the narrative. The story remained stationary for a long time. The wonderful Jane Austen (give her a round of applause please- she deserves it) can encompass so much more in so fewer words.Persuasionis a quarter of the length of this and that has so much more story than this, but it is told in the way it should be. Gaskell just droned on for much longer than her story was worth. It was a drag. However, behind the book’s snail pace, drawn out plot, semi-mundane characters and the frustrating romance, there is a real deep exploration of Victorian society. The class systems, the complications, are very well illustrated. The problems of a patriarchal system that demands that women and men must exist in spate spheres are presented. Molly’s farther is taciturn and rigid, but he does, in his overly masculine way, love his daughter. In his naivety- perhaps not the best word, self-imposed restriction will work much better- he marries so his daughter can be taught and guided. He never even entertains the thought that perhaps he, as her farther, could deal with her himself. All she realistically needed was chaperone, he could have taught her himself. Indeed, his wife turns out to be a money grabbing shrew; she is a societal leech, and she almost ruins everything. Not a good match. So in this, perhaps Gaskell suggests that these silly, silly, divides should be broken. Societies outward image is just something for the vain, things would work much better if men and women were less concerned with their “proper” places in society. This did have strong message, but it took far too many words to say it in even if the suggestions of fairy-tale were rather whimsical at the start.

  • Kim
    2019-06-09 22:04

    Why has it taken me so long to finally read this wonderful novel? I bought the Penguin edition when I was in my 20s, read a page or two, put it down and didn't pick it up again. The book sat on my shelf for years. For all I know, it could be there still. However, after university I went right off Victorian literature and it's only been in the last twelve months or so that I've felt the desire to tackle it again. And now I've fallen in love with Elizabeth Gaskell's writing. In brief, the novel is set in the English Midlands in the 1830s and focuses on Molly Gibson, who lives in a small town with her widowed father, the local medical practitioner. Concerned to acquire an appropriate chaperone and guide for his teenage daughter, Mr Gibson re-marries the vain, self-absorbed and manipulative Hyacinth Kirkpatrick, who has a teenage daughter of her own, Cynthia. The story of Molly and Cynthia is a tale of love, friendship, secrets and scandal. Central to the narrative are the changes in English society, where class distinctions are slowly becoming blurred. The best thing about this novel are its characters. There is kind, loving Molly, her sarcastic and undemonstrative but deeply caring father, her truly awful stepmother and the "fascinating, faulty" Cynthia, who is probably the most complex and interesting character in the novel. There is also the aristocratic Cumnor family, the conflicted family of Squire Hamley, and the chorus of ladies from the town. Gaskell breathed life into all of these characters. None are perfect - even the closest to perfect amongst them, Molly and Roger Hamley, demonstrate some flaws. None are mere caricatures, not even Hyacinth, in spite of her her quite breath-taking shallowness and the fact that she is the butt of much of Gaskell's highly-developed sense of irony. This is a novel with plenty of wit and humour, as well as melodrama and pathos. First published in serial form between August 1864 and January 1866, Gaskell died before the novel was finished. The final section, said to have been written by journalist and editor Frederick Greenwood, explains how Gaskell meant to conclude the final chapter. While it is sad that Gaskell's death left the book unfinished, it's not difficult to see where the narrative was going even without the final section. The excellence of the novel is not diminished by it being unfinished. I listened to an audiobook edition narrated by Josephine Bailey, who is truly superb. Every character is wonderfully realised, each with a distinct and appropriate voice. All in all, listening to this novel has been a wonderful experience. I'm looking forward to going back to its world in the not too distant future. And of course, I now have the BBC television adaptation to look forward to.

  • Sherwood Smith
    2019-05-29 23:06

    My Jane Austen book group is reading this book, a great excuse for a reread, as it is one of my favorites of all time.On this reread, I noticed how much fun the narrative voice has with small town life whatever the rank. There is so much humor veining the sharp observations of human vagaries, underscoring how much Gaskell's writing had changed. She always aimed for great things, though her earlier novels (and Dickens scolded her for daring to write beyond the female writer's "natural" sphere of domestic life) are problematical, rife as they are with popular Victorian cliche, such as long deathbed speeches. By this period she had begun to jettison the expected in favor of more subtle observations. The death beds are offstage; what we see is the profoundly realistic emotional drama of the aftermath. Illnesses don't ennoble, and "purity" is ignorance--something the female characters talk about.This book could as easily have been called "sex lives of wives and daughters" (it would be, today--marketing departments would require it) because there is so much commentary about sex, but in completely g-rated language. And not all of it is done by the young and breathless: there is a telling conversation between some older women "four widows in the room, with six husbands between 'em" after a spinster has left the room upon having delivered a valedictory speech on what ought to be proper courtship.At heart is Cynthia's trouble, preyed on by an older guy who became obsessed with her when she was fifteen, and she had no idea what she was doing. Gaskell gets into the emotional cost of raising girls to be ignorant, and the tension between society's rules (enforced not just by men but by other women) and communication, psychological insight and experience. Not a lot happens in this book if you're looking for big ticket drama, but if you enjoy bricolage--the little things that resonate as real--give this a try. Oh, and bonus to Gaskell for a hero who is 100% geek: he's big, awkward, and can't help but yap about science!Review from 2015 reread:Great novels really are different books to different readers--and can vary for the same reader as well. But what really struck me when I reached that end was how this novel illustrates, like a nearly physical blow, the different between being told something and being shown. That is, when ‘show’ is done with Gaskell’s extraordinary skill. The reader hits that last chapter, and we’re told by the editor what will happen. We know how everyone ends up. But the effect is still a cold splash of old bathwater after the lingering, fragrant sunshine of the novel because we don’t know how these things will be achieved. The delicate humor, the amazing insight, the interleaved reactions--none of it’s there.Another observation: how details add brilliance. Just the right details--ones that serve the mood, the mode, that illuminate character. We’ve all encountered writings in which research is stuck in clumps that cause the eye to start skidding down the page. Usually because these dumps of detail are neutral in affect, they don’t serve the story so much as exist parallel to it.Miss Hornblower was going to travel by railroad for the first time; and Sally was very anxious, and sent her directions for her conduct; one piece of advice was not to sit on the boiler.and. . .looking with admiring eyes at a large miniature set round with pearls, which served as a shield to Miss Phoebe’s breast. ‘It is handsome,’ that lady replied. ‘It is a likeness of my dear mother; Sally has got my father on. The miniatures were both taken at the same time; and just about then my uncle died and left us a legacy of fifty pounds, which we agreed to spend on the setting of our miniatures. But because they are so valuable Sally always keeps them locked up with the best silver, and hides the box somewhere; she will never tell me where, because she says I’ve such weak nerves, and that if a burglar, with a loaded pistol at my head, were to ask me where we kept our plate and jewels, I should be sure to tell him…’Then there are the wonderful details of psychological observations, in this case through image:If Molly had not been so entirely loyal to her friend, she might have thought this constant brilliancy a little tiresome when brought into everyday life; it was not the sunshiny rest of a placid lake, it was rather the glitter of the pieces of a broken mirror, which confuses and bewilders.The second thing that struck me on this reading was just how much Gaskell manages, in a completely g-rated novel centered around the required ‘good’ heroine, to explore the delights and the dangers of sexual attraction.I’ve often thought that many of the great novels of the nineteenth century are not just examinations of relations between men and women, but dialogues between the great writers on that subject. Trollope, for example, seems determined to prove (parallel to? Or in spite of? the powerful writings of the Brontes and Elliott from the woman's POV) that once a woman falls in love, that’s it. She becomes shopworn goods if she falls out of love, and the acute observer can actually perceive this diminishment. The problem he never quite honestly addresses is that the young woman who has been properly raised in ignorance, excuse me, innocent purity, has no idea what love even is: at best, she might feel the quick flutter of attraction, and the enjoyment of attention. She loves his compliment on her new gown, without any notion that he wants to rip it off of her.Gaskell, in this book, manages to make it clear for those with the experience to recognize the signals that innocent maidenhood is in fact a danger to the maiden, howevermuch the man likes control. (And he doesn’t always win her, either.) We get hints about Mr Preston being a bit of a rake (he is cruel in his very soul--tigerish, with his beautiful striped skin and relentless heart), having a Past, and his obsession with Cynthia is replete with his promises that if he can get her to wife, he can make her love him. Right. Married readers knew what that meant, even if young readers thought it a pretty sentiment.Marriages in this novel are made between well-meaning people who have nothing in common, such as the Hamleys’--both wanting to do right by the other, but never understanding them, until one of them dwindles and dies. This is a theme that Jane Austen explored, and Gaskell picks up. Austen suffices with dry wit and satire; Gaskell uses comedy to wonderful effect, but she writes as a mother, with compassion and insight into both sides. Molly makes reference to fearing that being good means being like a candle snuffed out; Osborne is bewildered because he married a good woman, one he loves, but he cannot broach the invisible wall of rank to tell his beloved father. The doctor, for all his sharp observation, hooks up with a woman who slowly and relentlessly drives him out of the house with her continuous selfish pettiness; Roger Hamley, the other scientific eye, falls before a pretty face, without ever penetrating behind that pleasing manner until he finds himself dumped. In this book the cost of ‘innocent purity’ goes both ways, it’s not just females as victims and men as predators. But men have the option of movement and experience on their side; the hemmed in woman does not, so who can blame Lady Harriet for not wanting to risk the comfortable life of a single woman for the dangerous waters of marriage?

  • Olive (abookolive)
    2019-06-20 19:10


  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-05-28 00:57

    4.5/5 stars. This book was really really good! I even think it was better than "North & South" by the same author, which seems to be a lot of people's favourite. What I love the most about this story is the characters which are so distinct and different from each other, but all yet so lovable. I loved how Elizabeth Gaskell has created such a variety of characters that you can't help but love, even though some of them are definitely meant to be annoying and impertinent (a new word that I learned when reading this story). I was rooting for everyone of them, and especially Molly and the Hamley brothers. I also really like how Elizabeth Gaskell plays with your mind and makes you think that something really bad is going to happen, and then it turns out to be quite exaggerated. While I would have loved for a big twist to set in, I also very much appreciated how the story turned out. Molly is a little bit too naive and weak at times which is one of the reasons why this book is not a 5-star-read for me, but in the end I can't really put my finger on anything bad about this story. Despite its 766 pages, Gaskell keeps it fresh and entertaining throughout, and I loved it for that!

  • Hana
    2019-06-16 18:47

    I finished this 700 page book in less than four days, which of course means that by my rating system it's a five star, utterly compulsive read. But now having gulped the whole thing down I'm going back to re-read it at a more sedate, Victorian pace. How could I not love a book that has lines like these: “I won't say she was silly, but I think one of us was silly, and it wasn't me!” “All sorts of thoughts cross one's mind—it depends upon whether one gives them harbour and encouragement” “Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.” “Your husband this morning! Mine tonight! What do you take him for?''A man' smiled Cynthia. 'And therefore, if you won't let me call him changeable, I'll coin a word and call him consolable.” There are so many terrific reviews of this classic that I doubt I can add much, except to say that I love Elizabeth Gaskell and I nearly cried as I turned that last page knowing it was the abrupt end, not just of an engrossing story filled with complex characters, humor, and thoughtful insights, but also because it was the last thing Mrs. Gaskell wrote--she died before she could pen the final chapter.April 12 group read here:

  • Jane
    2019-06-09 21:46

    Where I got the book: free on the Kindle. Although I think I should pick up an annotated edition one of these days.It's not often I finish a book with a big smile on my face, despite the teasing ending (which had me seriously worried that my free Kindle version had something missing, but then I decided it was entirely consistent with the story). Update: Thanks to more informed friends, I now know that Mrs. Gaskell died before finishing the book, which is the biggest bummer I can possibly think of for a writer.This was my first Mrs. Gaskell and I'm now wondering, where has she been all my life? I think I learned more about the social mores of small-town England in the early 19th century (1830s according to Wikipedia) than I would have done from any number of history books. Mrs. Gaskell paints her details with a fine brush, wrapped up in an entertaining story with an undercurrent of wry humor.The narrative, for those who need reminding, tells the story of Molly Gibson, the daughter of the doctor in the aforesaid small town (or possibly large village). What's interesting to me is that the Gibsons, being of the professional class, occupy a kind of social gray area between the ordinary folk of the village and both the nobility, represented by the Earl of Cumnor's family, and the gentry, represented by the Hamleys. Not to forget a new class of Victorian gentleman ready to risk all in the name of exploration and Empire, given shape in Roger Hamley the squire's son. This means that Molly manages to achieve a degree of social mobility that would definitely have been quite startling at the time. To drive home the point, Mr. (never Dr.) Gibson goes and marries a shallow, self-centered social climber with the wonderful name of Hyacinth (Bucket, anyone?) who brings along her daughter Cynthia. We then have a family split neatly down the middle between the honest, traditional values of Olde England and the nouveau riche pretensions of an up-and-coming class who see the established gentry as a target for marriage (if only they have money to back up their good name).A nicely complicated plot ensues, with romance, secrets, scandals, and reconciliations. Really great stuff. I felt as if I should have been annoyed at Molly and Roger for being perfect to the point of saintly and the Embodiment of Honest English Virtues, but somehow I never was and found myself cheering them both on.Re-read 2017-2018: Damn, I wish she'd finished the novel. I was far more into the characters this time around and even though I knew I wasn't going to find out what happened in the end I really wanted to find out what happened in the end...she would definitely have thrown another obstacle or two to True Love into the road. What would they have been?

  • Lori
    2019-05-31 20:44

    Oh. MY. WORD.This is, in every sense of the phrase, the never-ending story.I had been wanting to see the BBC's film version of this book for years, but never got around to it. In a story too complicated to explain, I was not able to get the video, so decided I'd try to read the book instead.The book is 60 chapters long. SIXTY. 650 pages. The first two slow chapters made me return the book to the library. But the story kept nagging at me, so a few months later, I tried again. The story definitely becomes more interesting after chapter two. But about 150 pages into the story, I was finally able to watch the video... and it was wonderful. With 150 pages of reading already invested, I decided I'd keep going. The movie proved that the story was a good one, and I was looking forward to additional information that books always seem to contain.So on I went. And nearing the last few paragraphs of the sixtieth chapter, I started wondering why the story wasn't anywhere near its finish.Let "A Note on the Text" from the last pages of the (35 page!!!) introduction speak to this:"Wives and Daughters was first published in eighteen monthly parts in the Cornhill Magazine from August 1864 to January 1866. The Cornhill publishers, Smith and Elder, issued the novel in two-volume form at the end of serialization, Elizabeth Gaskell having died in 1865, just BEFORE COMPLETING THE STORY." (Emphasis mine.)The Cornhill editor kindly TELLS the reader of what Gaskell intended to write in the sixty-first and final chapter. But it just isn't the same.Thank you BBC for just writing the rest of the story into the screenplay. And AAAARRRRGH! to myself - because if 650 pages isn't enough to qualify something as the never-ending story, the missing sixty-first chapter certainly is.

  • Sara
    2019-06-16 23:45

    Set in the 1830’s, at a time when society was in flux, but the separations between the gentry and the commoner still tightly drawn, Wives and Daughters is a captivating glimpse into the lives of two girls, thrown into a blended family. Our main heroine, Molly Gibson, is a simple and honest girl, brought up by her father, a physician, and raised without the influence of a mother. Upon her father’s remarriage, she is introduced not only to the restrictiveness of a shallow and grating step-mother but is also given a new sister exactly her age, Cynthia Kirkpatrick.Molly is a lovely creation, that one cannot help admiring and liking very much, but Cynthia is one of the most interesting characters I have encountered for quite some time. She is so flawed, so in need of love and guidance (which she has certainly never received from her mother), so inconstant in her dealings with others and so terribly human. Yet, she is loveable and sweet and kind in so many ways, and her genuine love for Molly redeems her of being seen as unfeeling or conniving. Cynthia’s vacillation contrasts so starkly with Molly’s steady sureness. If ever you had a friend, you would wish it to someone of Molly’s ilk.In parallel to this, Mrs. Gaskell weaves the stories of two brothers, Osbourne and Roger, of an ancient lineage and whose father has not quite made his way into the modern time in which he lives. The quality of character of these men is explored, as well, and they form an important part of the courting machinations that transpire. One cannot help thinking of Jane Austen when watching this ritual unfold that revolves far more in the mind of Mrs. Gibson than in any of the young people. From the beginning of this novel, Elizabeth Gaskell had my full attention. The story moves rapidly despite its length and the various threads are all tied neatly together, so that even the minor characters fit into the puzzle in very pleasing ways. Unfortunately, Mrs. Gaskell died with the final chapter or two unwritten. So, while all the major plot lines are satisfied and you do not feel left hanging, there is still a sense of something unfinished at the end. I was not prepared for this and it felt quite more jarring than it might have had I realized it was an unfinished work. Even with this, I would not hesitate to recommend reading this novel. I think Elizabeth Gaskell deserves to be regarded perhaps a bit more highly than she has been and holds her own with her contemporaries, the Brontes.

  • April (Aprilius Maximus)
    2019-06-17 22:58

    At the moment this is sitting at a 3.5 stars from me. I definitely enjoyed it, but I didn't LOVE it, and there's the fact that this book isn't complete which is hella rude. How dare Elizabeth Gaskell die before finishing this book?!Aaaaaanyway, I LOVED Roger, Mr Gibson & Squire Hamley and absolutely hATED Cynthia and her mother. They were unbelievably annoying. I highly recommend watching the BBC mini series adaptation because the ending is delightful and it's a wonderful adaptation!

  • Katie Lumsden
    2019-06-09 23:46

    I have no words for how much I love this book and how thoroughly impressed I was on this reread. It is an incredible, beautiful, poignant, subtle novel, and an absolute must-read.

  • Jessica
    2019-06-18 16:57

    Wow. How did I not know about this book sooner? In fact, let's all pause to ponder why authors like the Brontes and Austen get so much love, so much fan fiction . . . where is the Gaskell Society? I mean, here is a mother not unlike Mrs. Bennet, just one step away from having "nerves" and "flutterings" and all the while deeply concerned with . . . well, herself . . . to the point where what her daughters do only matters in how it is an advantage to her. Here is a daughter who doesn't honestly care about love or marriage, but just cannot stop playing the coquette, and then complaining when men keep proposing to her! Here's sweet Molly, who cannot flirt to save her life, but has both a keen mind and a tender heart that makes her loved by all. Gaskell's writing is very clear and precise, with a sly, dry wit to it. This was her final work, and she died before it was finished. There is an editor's note that was written at the book's first publication indicating how matters would have ended (all that is lacking, really, is an epilogue).

  • Piyangie
    2019-06-04 21:08

    Wives and Daughters is Elizabeth Gaskell's final novel which was interrupted in its completion due to the untimely death of the author. However incomplete it may be to the end, I found the book to be a completed work with beautiful writing, an interesting set of characters and a good story line. At a time when the "sensational" novels were in the peak of its popularity, Gaskell courageously took to writing this realist story which she called "An Everyday Story".The story mainly revolves around three families: the Gibsons; the Hamleys; and the aristocratic family of Cumnors. And family relations are at the root of the story. The father-daughter relationship, father-sons relationship, father-stepdaughter relationship, mother-daughter relationship and mother-stepdaughter relationship are subtly and touchingly portrayed. There is such warmth and sympathy in Gaskell's writing when she dwells on these family relations. There is also a love story, rather a love triangle between three main characters of the story - Roger Hamley, Cynthia and Molly Gibson. While Roger falls in love with beautiful Cynthia, Molly repines for the lost attention, not really understanding that she harbours a love so deep for Roger. Molly is depressed with Cynthia's marked indifference and inconsistency in her love for Roger, which according to Molly is a rare prize. Roger on the other hand, who though formerly bewitched by Cynthia's beauty and charm soon realizes the blind error of his infatuation and discovers where his true love lay, which is in Molly. The future development of these two goodhearted characters was unfortunately interrupted with the untimely demise of the author. However, a possible ending has been outlined by the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, in which the story was serialized, basing on notes and an outline which the author has left behind for the few chapters that were unwritten. It is unfortunate that we readers were not privileged to read the ending in her own florid writing. Apart from the family relationship and the love story, the book touches on a variety of wider concepts. The class difference is one. The old Hamley whose ancestral roots runs to a time before the Conquest, sees any alliance between his sons with the daughters of Dr. Gibson as unsuitable as the latter being a "medical man' with no worthy connection. Gaskell emphasizes on this point by showing that even though the old Hamley considers Molly Gibson as nearly as a daughter of his own, still he dreads the union between her and any of his sons. Then Gaskell touches upon the strongly held political allegiances of the day. Hamleys are Tories from the time of remembrance and the Cumnors are Whigs. There is an interesting rivalry penned by Gaskell between the two families. When Roger Hamley, a budding scientist was invited to the Towers, which is the home of Lord Cumnor, old Hamley forces the son to decline it on the ground that it would a disregard to family principles to have any intercourse with the Whigs. Through this, Gaskell shows the reader the extremity of political rivalry. Although these political rivalries and strong held prejudices on class were later relaxed towards the end of the story, it was little disturbing to read the amount of discrimination that prevailed in the early 19th century British society. There are also general themes such as women's position in the society, their education, patriarchal dominance, social values and conventions that have been touched upon. Mr. Gibson, being a medical man himself, holds the opinion that his daughter, Molly, should not be "educated". It showed how the opinion was held on women education even by learned men at that time. And the most interesting, which I have not yet come across in a Victorian novel, is Gaskell's touch on the future scientific developments. Through the character of Roger Hamley, who was said have been modeled on the famous naturalist Charles Darwin, Gaskell's cousin, the author eagerly writes on the future scientific developments which are on its way. The story and its themes have been explored by Gaskell with the use of an interesting set of characters. Molly Gibson is the author's heroine. She is strong, courageous and kind; yet shy and timid. She is the epitome of goodness. There were certain resemblances of her to Margaret Hale in North and South, but Molly was, to me, the better heroine. Her stepsister Cynthia is pretty and charming but selfish, self-centered and shallow. The author is very sympathetic towards this faulty character and alludes that her faults were due to neglectful parenting. Mrs. Gibson, the second wife of Dr. Gibson is a pretentious and a mercenary woman. Her character provided the needed comic relief to the story while old Hamley too contributed to a certain degree. Mr. Gibson provided solidity to the story. Roger Hamley is our hero. He is goodhearted, selfless and learned. He represents the generation of social, political reform and scientific evolution. On the contrary, old Hamley represents the dying feudalism. The beauty of this work lay in the story as well as in Gaskell's excellent writing. It is more polished and developed from her days of writing North and South which was done nearly a decade earlier. And surprisingly, her writing is quite satirical, which is definitely a new development from her early days of writing. I also noticed the names Gaskell has given certain incidental characters such as Goodenough and Sheepshanks which made me wonder if Dickens has been influential over Gaskell in her later writings. Dickens and Gaskell have been very close friends, and perhaps there may be some truth to my inferences. Overall, it was a brilliant work and was a very rewarding read. And although I have finished the read, the story and the characters, especially Molly and Roger still linger on my mind; a sure sign that they have become a part of me.

  • Wealhtheow
    2019-06-23 19:54

    Molly Gibson is a kind-hearted, intelligent, sensitive girl who is thrown into society when her father, the equally sensible but far more sarcastic Mr.Gibson, marries. His new wife is flighty, hypocritical, and manipulative, but all in such a soft, pliant way that it is difficult to oppose her. With her comes her daughter Cynthia Fitzpatrick, who is Molly's own age but beautiful where Molly is pretty, and socially brilliant where Molly is genuine. Cynthia and Molly immediately become best friends, but Cynthia is so constantly charming young men that (by trying to help her get out of scrapes) Molly's own reputation suffers. Easily one of the most charming, romantic Victorian novels I've ever read. Victorian novels generally put so much emphasis on morals or virtues that I find alien and silly, or are so long-winded in their explanations, descriptions, and dialog, that I grow quite out of patience with them. Instead, Gaskell seems to have a good deal of sympathy for characters like Cynthia, who would have been treated very severely by authors like Trollop or Bradden, and quietly pokes fun at the sexist, classist, xenophobic notions of her main characters. She seems to like her characters, and want to explain them to her readers, instead of trying to use them as puppets to force her readers into higher morals. Gaskell is nearly as witty as Dickens, but turns her attention in much the same direction as Austen, with that same satirical edge to her domestic descriptions. Gaskell is particularly adept at portraying characters' personalities and interests through dialog alone. I quite loved this, and was horrified to learn, when I was 75% done and utterly wrapt up in the story, that it was never finished. It ends on a satisfying note, however, so though one does not get to actually read the resolution, one is not left without hope that it did take place. In a way, by ending this novel before (view spoiler)[the hero and heroine confess their love for each other,(hide spoiler)]one is left to resolve it in the manner most satisfactory to oneself, and not bound to the author's choices.

  • Kelly
    2019-06-10 17:46

    To be honest, I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed into my cushions pretty much from the first words, so there wasn’t much of a chance this was going to be a negative review. But she really won me over as soon as she provided me with an excellent audience proxy for me to cast myself as early on- Lady Harriet ftw, am I right?- that reassured me that she and I were on the same side about what was happening. Then I could really get comfortable. Molly is goddamn adorable, Mr. Gibson can have wine at my house anytime, Roger should have all the nice things, and Clare shouldn’t, because she is the actual worst. I’m not sure, still, entirely, where I come down on Cynthia. She for sure needs extensive therapy and for sure will never do it, so she’ll probably either become a fragile, brittle, vain, increasingly silly alcoholic or she’s got a pretty dark night of the soul ahead of her if by some chance she does hit rock bottom and is ready to face some stuff. In my fanfic, she gets the second option, because I think she could turn it around, but because life is Victorian England life, it was probably the former. Some interesting stuff about land rights, entailment and day-to-day life (Gaskell was already explaining life a few decades previously to her readers in this one, so there’s more helpful explaining than you’d think for a 19th century audience). Oh, oh! Be warned: there’s no full ending on this one! Gaskell told her editors what she wanted the ending to be, for the most part, but she died a few chapters before she finished. So you do get to kind of Choose Your Own Adventure, so yay! But the ending is half an obituary, so kind of a downer a little bit? (And if any of you ding me for “spoilers”, are you kidding me, please re-read the previous sentences, there is no ending to spoil, get over yourself.) Anyway! Overall, this was kinda like reading a really smart, satirical middlebrow domestic novel, probably written for the same audience those are written for today. Some overly shlocky moments and overdone metaphors, but more than worth it in the end, waayyyyy better than North and South. So yeah, Lady Harriet and I will be over here in the corner drinking the tea, enjoying the show and standing up for Molly as required. Come join us!

  • Jane
    2019-06-01 19:56

    Towards the end of last year I spent many happy hours visiting a world so perfectly realised that it still lifts my heart when I think of it. I stepped into the middle of the 1830s, into the English countryside that Mrs Gaskell knew so well, I met people who were so real, fallible, interesting, and I became caught up in their lives and their stories.At the centre of it all was Molly Gibson, the only child of a widowed doctor. The apple of his eye.In a lovely prologue she was twelve years old and she had been taken The Towers, home of the Duke of Cumnor, for a day of grand entertainments. Molly had a lovely time, but there was just one oversight: she was left behind, napping on a big bed, when the carriages drove away. She was found, of course, and looked after, but gown-ups don’t always understand childish concerns, and Molly didn’t know how she would ever escape. until, of course, her father came and rescued her.I loved Molly from the start, her love for her father and for her world, her openness, her honesty. I felt that we were friends, looking at the world together as the story unfolded.We met again when Molly was seventeen, and her father sent her to visit the family of the local squire. he had been concerned when one of his pupils had taken a shine to his daughter, and that concern gave his daughter a new family. He would always be first in her hear but she became a daughter to a mother of sons, a sister to those sons, and a particular favourite of their father.And so the stage was set for a story that would move between the aristocracy, the old gentry and the new professional classes. And a story that would say much about a changing world, as one of the young men Molly came to love as a brother was drawn to the arts and romanticism, the other was drawn to science and exploration, and their father clung to his home, his land, his heredity.All of that is there to ponder, and a glorious plot unfolds.Molly’s world shifts when her father, quite unexpectedly brings home a new wife, because he is sure that his beloved daughter needs a mamma to guide her. Hyancinth, who was beautiful but terribly, terribly grand, terribly aware of appearances and social position, had been governess to the family of Duke of Cumnor, and she brought with her a daughter.Cynthia was bold, confident, and yet she was terribly vulnerable, and though they were very different, had very different ideas about their futures, they became firm friends.The story holds so much. Fortunes rise and fall. There are births, marriages and deaths. There is domesticity, there is society, and there is travel. And there are secrets, and they will have such consequences…All life is there, from quiet domesticity to grand events, and through everything in between. And lives are lived. A broad cast of characters – no not characters, people, because everyone is so perfectly drawn – live, love, make mistakes, learn, enjoy good or bad fortune, feel every emotion under the sun ….and so completely realised, real lives are reflected in the pages of these book.There are so many wonderful scenes, so many moments that strike a chord.The depth of understanding is obvious and the writing is beautiful. Mrs Gaskell has a wonderfully light touch, an instinctive understanding of when linger and when to pass on, and always finds exactly the right words.She didn’t live quite long enough to finish this book, but she pulled me so fully into its world that I knew what had to be. I’m gushing, I know, but I am smitten. And I know that I will always remember this world, and that it will keep calling me back.

  • Lubinka Dimitrova
    2019-06-02 20:43

    I was just about to give it three stars, but in the end, I decided it does deserve more. Yes, I read more than 700 pages of sweet little nothings, but eventually the characters grew on me, and I could not help but admire Elizabeth Gaskell's ability to present even the most annoying personages as quite likable people. I suppose now I'll have to read North and South.

  • Gabrielle Dubois
    2019-05-29 22:58

    It’s the first time I read Elisabeth Gaskell. It’s very easy and pleasant to read.I found it difficult to like the heroine, the little Molly, in the first two chapters. Just a matter of character : I find it difficult to adhere to this kind of fragile and a bit soft natures who are incommoded by a hot English sun of June (hot? in June? in England?... Please, excuse me, English readers : I like England, I lived and worked there for two years… many years ago, and went back ther twice with husband and children, that’s why I know a little your « hot sun of June ! ») So Molly almost faints because it’ eleven o'clock in the morning and because they haven’t eaten yet ! But Molly is twelve years old, which means that she’s neither too little girl to be so fragile or too teenager to be so ninny! I thought this didn’t match the fact that Molly is able to "struck her pony, and urged him on as hard as he would go."She is twelve years old and she acts like an evaporated young woman: "Oh! Bring me my salts, my corset is too tight, I’m going to faint! I'm starving, but ... oh! I cannot swallow anything but one grape!" Tell me, does anyone know children like this one?However, I really liked the description of the chatelains, lord and lady Cumnor, and the village gentlewomen’s mentalities; and these ladies of the village who make a point of honor to do the drudgery of the chatelaine: visit the school, and who are filled with pride at the idea of being invited for a day at the castle. Costumes change, manners change, but not human nature: one always gets what one wants with flattery. The fox will always get his cheese, as La Fontaine said!By the way, I read Wives and Daughters in its French version, so, when I quote the original version, I copy it from the Gutenberg Project on Internet which is very nice because there are illustrations, lithographs from the 19th century, for those who like to see this…But then, in chapter 4, there are many good things as :A very well writen portrait of Mr. Gibson,A thought in which I recognize myself when I write literary articles for a French newspaper: "Indeed, by-and-by, he began to send contributions of his own to the more scientific of the medical journals, and thus partly in receiving, partly in giving out information and accurate thought, a new zest was added to his life."And here is the kind of sentence which I like to find in a book: "…and otherwise he made himself excessively uncomfortable in his attire…" It’s very human and so well observed by the author.This sentence : « He felt that his visits were a real pleasure and lightening of her growing and indescribable discomfort » reveals Dr. Gibson's intuitive and psychological implication in his patient's mental health. It’s astonishingly modern.And the light and sympathetic Gaskell’s humour in doctor Gibson’s answer :"Must my boy make pills himself, then?" asked the major, ruefully."To be sure. The youngest apprentice always does. It's not hard work. He'll have the comfort of thinking he won't have to swallow them himself…"Ah! I pity those poor 19th century fathers who didn’t want to educate and warn their daughters against the mysteries and dangers of sex. But, once the little girls were grown up, the fathers would tear their hair out trying to protect their daughters from a danger they knew nothing about, by their fathers’ fault.What bothered me already in the first chapters, was that each character represents a social class, a particular type. This is of course intentional on the part of Gaskell, to denounce, among others, the women’s condition of that time. But this spoils some characters of the novel, in the sense that it doesn’t make them real or plausible, I explain myself:First of all, let’s talk about the the too kind, too naive, too little girl, too good daughter, too unconscious of her beauty, too erased Molly. Have we ever seen a 17-year-old girl ever look at herself in a mirror to get an idea of what she looks like, how beautiful, or not, she is? Have we ever seen a 17-year-old girl have the naivety of a ten-year-old child? Have we ever seen a daughters hide a little of her thoughts and actions from her parents? Ô Molly, you are a saint! And there is no harm in being a saint, except that it’s not a saint that Gaskell presents us. Gaskell wanted, through Molly, to represent a type of character, and this is why we cannot believe that this character is real.Similarly, the good Dr. Gibson: Gaskell describes him as being intelligent, having already had one or more female adventures, and having already been married. Gaskell tells us that he knows the human soul well and demonstrates it to us in different things he does or thinks. Why? But then, why does he do something so stupid ! He…You don’t expect me to tell you what, do you ? Read the book! 😊There are so many typical characters, so irritating, annoying, selfish, "langue de vipère" (tongue of viper, as we say in French, which means someone who say bad things about someone else), good, intelligent, entangled in their social conventions… so human!I read Wives and Daughters with a great pleasure, and finally liked Molly a lot!I had fun reading about these upper-class women who had a lot of time for themselves, and maybe, were bored. In fact, they had to much time to think only of themselves. They had no job to occupy their thoughts, and not all of them were gifted for the piano, reading, or whatever ... Therefore their thoughts went around in circles around their health. They self-listended too much, if I may say so. When you feel a little pain, but you have to take your children to school and go quickly to work, you don’t have time to think about it, and as well, pain might have disappear at night. But when you have only that to think, the pain amplifies.Osborne Hamley is entangled in the position he is supposed to hold in society, in his family, and in the family he created for himself.I could felt the weight of what society and family are expecting from you in Osborne character :Osborne is the first born on whom rest the Hamley family of Hamley Hall: he is the heir, the one who will run the estate, and everyone hopes he will be able to run it better than his father! And maybe the good old Squire himself hopes it too, because he is not stupid and knows his own limits: he didn’t make good calculations on the future. As Osborne had a fashionable physique, was a person of refined taste, liked literature, which was a sign of intelligence at the time, but to which his father is hermetic; everyone came to the conclusion that he was clever and would be able manage the family's wealth. Osborne is a good boy: he loves his family, his brother, and even his father; we can also see that he…No, finally, I won’t tell you either!Just maybe : Osborne’s character makes me think of Armand, the lover of La Dame aux Camélias, Alexandre Dumas son's novel. Armand lives with his father's money, without working. He keeps Marguerite until their financial resources are exhausted, without seeking to earn money by honest work. Armand feels so much above a common job that he cannot even imagine making a living by the way everyone else does. In a way, he prefers to let his situation die rather than to take control of himself. It is simply inconceivable for an Armand or an Osborne to "descend" at the level of ordinary mortals. Osborne realizes that his poems are not worth much, but it's the only work that would not get his hands dirty.Oh, I could tell you about Miss Phoebe, Mrs Goodenough, the Squire whom I liked a lot, he’s so moving… but, who wishes to read a review longer than a book?

  • Laura
    2019-06-27 21:08

    What a darling book. I loved it. This story takes place during the late 1820's early 1830's, in an English, country, town. It read very easy, was engaging, sprinkled with beautiful descriptions of the era and natural settings, and the characters were so endearing that I was actually moved to tears during parts of the book. I can't help but to compare this novel as a cross between two of my favorite authors, Jane Austen and Jan Karon. Perfect. I wouldhighly recommend this novel to readers who admire Jane Austen.3-4-17I just watched the BBC mini series of Wives and Daughters and I highly recommend it. Of course, read the book first, but the movie stayed very true to the novel and was a treat to watch.

  • RavenclawReadingRoom
    2019-06-03 20:56

    18/2/2017Okay, so here's the thing. I've been reading and rereading this book since 2001. That is a long ass time. So that fifth star up there? Yeah, that is one hundred percent nostalgia talking. Sorry, Kirsti from 2014. It's got a fifth star now. I love the story. I love the characters. I love the writing. I love all of the things. (Except for the part where Gaskell died before finishing the story, but whatever. I'm used to it now...)23/1/20144 stars. I first came across this story through the BBC miniseries in 1999, and loved it as only a sixteen year old could. Fast forward to 2001, and the book turned out to be on the syllabus for an English subject that I took in first year uni titled "The Classic Victorian Novel". Imagine my surprise when I reached the end of the last chapter only to discover that not only was the ending dramatically different to the miniseries I knew and loved, but THERE WAS NO ENDING BECAUSE ELIZABETH GASKELL DIED BEFORE SHE GOT A CHANCE TO WRITE IT. I love everything about this book. The characters are rich and well described and completely individual. Their emotions are beautifully written, their dialogue is often witty or sassy or sarcastic while other characters are completely superficial. I think my favourite character will forever be Mr Gibson solely because of him saying "Haven't you got a trashy novel or two in the house? That's the literature to send her to sleep", because it's such a brilliant line that could be equally applicable at any point between 1830 and the present. I love the setting, the dialogue, the intrigue regarding Cynthia and her hatred of Mr Preston, the descriptions, the emotion. I have a five star amount of love for this book. But thanks to Elizabeth Gaskell's rude and untimely death denying me the ending I so desperately want, I can never rate this any higher than four stars. Petty, I know. But there you have it.

  • Cissy
    2019-06-17 19:03

    This is my new favorite. Written by a lesser-known British author in the mid-1800s, this novel would be enjoyed by Austen and Dickens fans. It is very long--more than 600 pages in small print--but the characters are wonderfully detailed and the story very compelling. It is not a difficult read, but I do recommend getting a version that has notes explaining period references. I loved the sweetness of the main character, Molly Gibson, and all the different relationships between her and the other characters. One warning: this novel was originally written as a magazine serial and the author died before completing the final chapters; however, you get enough to figure out just what is going to happen. I really loved this story, but if you just can't get to it, rent the 5-hour BBC mini-series. It is extremely faithful to the novel--most of the dialogue is verbatim from the book--and makes up an appropriate, natural ending.

  • Amanda
    2019-06-05 20:05

    I loved this as much as North and South but for very different reasons. This was so cozy and lovely with complex, lifelike characters in a story that never travels out of town. Molly was an endearing character. Cynthia and Hyacinth were both interesting and ultimately sympathetic characters. All of the Hamleys were wonderful. This was also made all the more enjoyable by reading along with Sarai (Sarai Talks Book) and chatting about all the thoughts and interactions the characters had. I love Gaskell and will one day read all her novels, at least!

  • Resh (The Book Satchel)
    2019-06-01 23:41

    I loved this novel. This is my third novel by Gaskell and I am convinced she is one of my favourite writers.In short:The novel is set in the 1830s. Dr. Gibson decides to take a wife in order to protect his only child, Molly, from the romantic advances of one of his medical assistants. Unfortunately, his new wife, Hyacinth 'Clare', is quite a handful. She desperately tries to fit into the role of the 'mother' and 'mistress' of the house; often failing in both. Soon enough Clare's daughter, Cynthia, joins the household.What I loved?Gaskell always focusses on a different issue in each of her novels. While North and South was based on classes in society and the effect of industrialization, Ruth was about grave issues like the church, sin and bearing a child out of wedlock. Wives and Daughters is more of a domestic novel with excellent character sketches. The novel is a bit slow; but I loved the attention to detail of the personalities of characters. Gaskell's character sketches are applaudable. There are many women characters with widely different personalities all of which are generously elaborated over the novel. Molly is the quintessential 'perfect' heroine. But Gaskell does impart subtle imperfections in her like her possessiveness towards her father and her difficulty in adjusting with her new mother starting with feeling insecure that her new mother has the fancy name 'Hyacinth' while she is just an ordinary 'Molly'.I loved the relationship between the sisters. They love each other and they both dislike different aspects of their mother (step mother). It is interesting that the sisters become close friends even though they are opposites in many ways; Molly is innocent and humble while Cynthia is more vain and charming. Clare is one of my favourite characters in the book, because she is so eccentric and selfish at the same time that makes the reader chuckle at her actions. She is not a bad character, but she certainly has less good virtues than bad ones.What I disliked?I didn't like the title. Perhaps Mothers and Sisters would have been more apt because those relationships take up a majority of the novel. Molly experiences a motherly affection from different characters (not just Clare) and each experience is different from the other. Also there are portions when Molly becomes a lot more caring towards her sister, Cynthia, that she is almost like a mother to her.Note:The novel is incomplete. But a happy ending can easily be visualized by the reader. The TV adaptation of the novel is splendid. I'd highly recommend giving it a watch. Also Molly's voice in my head began to differ after I watched an episode and then read the book. So that is what I would recommend as well. Rating : 4.5stars__Blog | Instagram |Twitter | Facebook

  • Mark my words
    2019-05-31 23:48

    SPOILER ALERT!! Wives and Daughters has both wives in the tale and daughters. Yes, I was surprised too, to be sure.I have to say, and it pains me to do so, I prefered the BBC adaptation. Though that may have had something to do with the comely Justine Waddell. Then again I prefered the BBC adaptation of one of Mrs Gaskell's other novels, Cranford, as well. Maybe she should have been a screenwriter; had such a job existed back in the 19th century.Instead of sitting down with a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive and simply reading this book, I listened to most of it through Librivox: the free online audiobook place for books of a certain age. This Librivox recording is in the public domain, as you will be informed… constantly. A lot of its readers sound as if their mothers are forcing them to read the pages as some form of punishment. But I have to say Elizabeth Klett really brought the book and it’s watercolour characters to life. She does a mean Jane Austen too.

  • QNPoohBear
    2019-06-04 19:44

    It's impossible to summarize the plot of this book. It's not quite a romance and it doesn't have the grand political statement of North and South but it does have some romance, some drama, some comedy and the backdrop of the idyllic English countryside. Sue Birdwhistle, the producer of the mini series sums up the story well : "[It's about] where love comes from, how it grows, how it can break our hearts, how it can bring happiness and fulfillment. It's about the mistakes we make and the secrets we have to keep." I had a hard time getting into the book at first, having seen the miniseries. It was difficult to go forward knowing what would happen but there were subtle differences and things I didn't remember which made me want to read on. The prose is mostly very modern. The book doesn't read like a typical 19th century domestic novel at all. Some of the language and situations places the book in the 19th century but the overall narrative and the characters exist anywhere. There are some subtle messages here about class consciousness, trying to be someone you're not, the worth of a man, and the downside of having too much pride and extreme (unfounded) prejudices. Gaskell doesn't spell it out and hit you on the head with her messages but allows her characters to slowly change and grow over time to accept changes in their lives. There's a good deal of subtle humor in the story too. The minor characters, the Misses Browning are the types of spinster ladies who populate Gaskell's famous Cranford chronicles. Also Lady Cumnor is (unintentionally on her part) funny. Her husband is intentionally funny, at least he thinks he is. The humor adds a lot to the story and delivers a message without a punch. It's a testament to Gaskell's writing that she could pull it all off. Though she died before she finished the novel completely, she left notes on what happens in the next and final chapter. Molly Gibson, a country doctor's daughter, is a bit too noble and good for my tastes. Occasionally she shows bursts of temper but she never completely loses her cool. She does deliberately disobey when the occasion requires it. She's sort of like a priest, being the peacemaker and privy to everyone's secrets. Despite her goodness, she is a sympathetic character and I wanted her to be happy. Molly's father, Gibson, was not my idea of a good father. He was in some ways close to his daughter yet he never really stopped to think about her feelings. He let her be raised in innocence and ignorance by others and continually has his head in the sand when it comes to Molly. He does not want to get involved in domestic relations and he does not want Molly to grow up. He mishandles all his domestic affairs and it all falls on Molly's shoulders to bear the burdens alone. Osborne and Roger Hamley are about as different as brothers can be. I wasn't crazy about Osborne. He's more of a typical Victorian town gentleman and his manners are too polished. Yet, he's very realistic because he feels the weight of his parents' expectations and the burden of keeping a big secret. Roger is the typical younger son. He better fits the country squire mold than his brother but his parents do not have high hopes for him. He's quiet and kind and too good. He makes one mistake, one most men do and that makes him a bit more human. I found him endearing though, for the most part. The Kirkpatrick women are complex characters. Hyacinth is horrible and completely unfeeling yet at one point I felt a little sorry for her because she's not too bright and the thought never occurred to her that others don't have the same lack of moral code she does. Her daughter Cynthia is more complicated. On the surface she seems a lot like her mother but fortunately she was shunted off to school at a young age and didn't see her mother very often. She has more depth of feeling and consciousness than her mother. She recognizes her mother's faults and I enjoyed her quick witty barbs directed at her mother. Cynthia wants to be good like Molly but she can't because she wasn't brought up to feel the way Molly does about things. I have mixed feelings about her. I want to like her and I do but I don't fully trust her or embrace her as a loved character. Besides Hyacinth, the villain of the piece (if there is one) is really a nasty sort of man. Gaskell intended him to be three-dimensional and probably thought we should have sympathy for him but he just is not a nice person. The one character I loved the most was Squire Hamley. My heart went out to him and broke with his. I loved his relationship with Molly. Their friendship is so beautiful and loving. He's sort of a second father to Molly and she feels comfortable with the Hamleys. I also loved how he has to experience a lot of negative change in order to grow as a person. He's gruff yet loving, proud yet kind. His limited life experiences fill him with negative prejudices. He has the biggest change to go through and the most at stake. It helps that he was played so amazingly by Michael Gambon (who I did NOT like as Dumbledore but loved in Wives and Daughters and Cranford). My other favorite character is Lady Harriet. The daughter of Lord and Lady Cumnor, she enjoys a hearty horseback ride and isn't snobbish in visiting with the locals. She recognizes the faults of others with a self-satisfied smugness but I enjoyed her wit. I also loved that she was Molly's friend and champion. The secondary characters are the best. Gaskell truly excels at creating quirky village inhabitants.This is a classic novel that's not well known but if you love Jane Austen, you should definitely read this book. More review possibly coming later...

  • Magrat Ajostiernos
    2019-05-29 20:02

    ¡Me ha gustado muchísimo! Tanto como para convertirse en mi libro preferido de la Gaskell junto con 'Norte y Sur'.Si conocéis los libros de la autora, diría que esta obra tiene lo mejor de 'Cranford' con lo mejor de 'Norte y Sur', todo junto. Y se nota muchísimo la madurez de la autora en su maravillosa manera de escribir.En fin, otra novela que pasa a mi sección de predilectos :)

  • SarahC
    2019-05-30 19:03

    This novel achieves much and thoughts of it do not leave the mind quickly. Gaskell captures both the human experience and the beautiful settings of mid-19th-century English country life. You will be drawn into this world as she introduces the lives of the common folk of Hollingford and those who hold distinction either by title or by ancient stewardship of the land. Regardless of rank, Gaskell’s characters face essentially human situations.Our heroine, young Molly Gibson, on the brink of adulthood, has quietly grown up with her father, the town physician. A little awkward and protected by her father, she is carefully embarking on life. She finds love and acceptance with a surrogate family, the Hamleys. At the same time, Molly’s father brings home a new wife -- a new mamma for Molly -- the lovely yet ambitious Hyacinth, former governess to the grand Cumnor family who rule the town. Hyacinth’s bold but neglected daughter Cynthia also becomes a part of the Gibson household. Meanwhile, the Hamleys, who grow so dear to Molly, face the illness of a devoted mother, the struggles of two brothers, and the constant desire of a father to maintain the centuries-old estate.The beginning of the story feels like a fairy tale. Twelve-year-old Molly is whisked away by carriage, in the company of not-too-observant guardians, to the great house of the Cumnors, appropriately named The Towers. Here she experiences a day of grand entertainments but is accidentally left sleeping as the carriages ride away. She is imprisoned in a sense, as no one will help her leave or be convinced that her father will worry. Soon her father arrives to rescue her. The reader fears more adventures in wonderland as her story resumes when she is almost seventeen. This time she goes on her first “real visit,” a stay of several weeks at Hamley Hall. Thankfully, Molly finds a much different experience from her fearful stay at The Towers as she becomes somewhat adopted by the kind family, who long for a young girl about the place and appreciate Molly’s constancy and caring nature.So wonderland dissolves and the concerns of everyday take its place. Molly is coming of age and much of the story tells of things hidden and misunderstood in her life and that of those around her. A sister of the heart to the Hamley sons, she protects their secret that will affect the path of both brothers’ lives. Molly also guards the hidden life of Cynthia, her sister by necessity, to insure hope for Cynthia’s future. Strengths, flaws, rediscovered relationships and discovered love are revealed in this “rich and rare” story, as labeled by Gaskell biographer Jenny Uglow.The crafting of the story sets it apart from anything else I have read including other writing of Gaskell. She has a light touch and an absolute respect for how real life happens, preventing this from being a tale of drama and dysfunction. The people simply live, feel, make mistakes and endure sacrifices. I can’t improve upon what the editor remarked of her in the last original published Wives & Daughters installment in 1866 after Gaskell’s death, “She began by having the people of her story born in the usual way, and not built up like the Frankenstein monster..,” and therefore a very natural, pure story follows.I greatly recommend this novel.

  • Mira
    2019-06-09 00:49

    Wives and Daughters is Elizabeth Gaskell at her finest. Written in the year preceding her death, the novel unfortunately never got finished. However, it is amazingly enjoyable, and makes one of the best love stories, as well as an excellent social commentary. Little Molly Gibson, who lives with her widowed father, suddenly has the opportunity to see her world changing, when she is invited for a stay with the Hamleys, while her father is busy elsewhere getting married. In Molly, we have an endearingly sweet heroine, with a refreshing simplicity about her, and a father that wins the reader with his cynicism and wonderful sense of humor, which reminded me of Mr. Bennet, only that Mr. Gibson is a much better father than Mr. Bennet ever aspired to be. The new stepmother, “Hyacinth Clare”(whose name even Mr. Gibson makes fun of) is one hilarious add to the plot; sickly-sweet, with an extravagant air of a past-yet-clinging youth about her, and a tendency to be occasionally jealous of her own daughter, thus never failing to provide the novel with a silly, irritating comic role. Gaskell also does a great job describing the Hamleys and the irony of the parents’ expectations of their sons, which are contradicted harshly by the real turn of events.Wives and Daughters is not perhaps as bleak as North and South, but it is just as moving and powerful , with a great love story at its heart, and a realistic comparison between worldliness and locality, shrewdness and innocence, and between fickleness and resolution of beliefs, as displayed by Molly and her alluring stepsister, Cynthia. Cynthia is certainly an interesting character to read about. Though not my favorite, she may be the most realistic character in the novel, probably because you just keep wavering between liking and disliking her, understanding her motives at one moment, and then declaring her selfish and too sophisticated at the next. The wonderful thing about this novel is that it is never dull. Every chapter is apt to evoke some kind of emotion, the laugh-out-loud moments are plenty, and always connected in some way or another with Mr. Gibson or the rough, but good-hearted Sir Hamley. Elizabeth Gaskell never disappoints. Witty, prolific, and beautifully imagined, her writings are always a delight to read, and put me in the best of moods. And without doubt, Wives and Daughters is one excellent example.