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Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
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Ruth (1853)

by Elizabeth Gaskell

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The story of Ruth, an orphan apprentice milliner, who is abandoned by her gentleman lover and taken in by a dissenting minister and his sister. It is a story of repentance and judgment: Ruth is for years represented as a widow, but her secret of course comes out eventually. I found the story moved on at quite a pace. Mr Bellingham, the seducer, is a nuanced character and, although I never really warmed to Ruth, there were lots of other satisfying characters. I particularly enjoyed the Ruth/Jemima/Mr Farquhar love triangle. A satisfyingly weepy ending. ( )
  pgchuis | Jul 29, 2014 |
I read this years ago and it really stuck with me. I must get around to reading it again to refresh my memory of the minutiae of the story. I read it as part of a course of study of victorian writers (might even have been victorian female writers) and personally far preferred it to all the Jane Austen we were also having to read. ( )
  Peace2 | Jan 19, 2014 |
This novel invites comparisons to "The Scarlet Letter," in that it explores many of the same themes of redemption and deception. But, it is much more realistic than Hawthorne's horrid novel (which I have reviled here), and ends by being a kind of feminist pro-life riff.

Read more at: http://thegrimreader.blogspot.com/2012/11/i-recount-my-recent-gaskell-jag.html ( )
  nohrt4me2 | Nov 25, 2012 |
I was unfamiliar with Elizabeth Gaskell’s work until I saw the BBC production of Wives and Daughters. This story I enjoyed so much that I sought out further of Gaskell’s works, beginning with Ruth.

Ruth has all the elements of a perfect Victorian storm: the young eponymous heroine is orphaned, turned out by her guardian, seduced and impregnated by a wretch with enough wealth to be considered a gentleman, and then deserted by same. She is subsequently taken in as a “widow” by the kindly Bensons; alas, it is a deceit they are not able to sustain indefinitely. The discovery that Ruth is a “depraved” woman naturally has far-reaching implications for her “bastard” son. Indeed, she is reminded that the implications are eternal: “Those wild autumnal storms had torn aside the quiet flowers and herbage that had gathered over the wreck of her early life and shown her that all deeds, however hidden and long passed by, have their eternal consequences.” (258)

This Penguin Classics edition notes, and I agree, “In writing Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell daringly confronted prevailing views about sin and illegitimacy with her compassionate and honest portrait of a ‘fallen woman.’ (back cover) Among the things I did not like about Ruth: I had difficulty buying into the absoluteness of Ruth’s ignorance and naiveté, youth and lack of parental guidance aside. And a substantial portion of the text was slow for me; the novel took me longer than usual to see my way through.

Truthfully, I wanted to enjoy this read more than I did. Still, I recommend it if you are able to look past these minor faults. ( )
  lit_chick | Mar 31, 2011 |
"Fans of social realism will appreciate the surprisingly nuanced and multi-faceted perspective on Victorian era morals and mores offered in Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell's sweeping novel Ruth. The story follows the fortune of Ruth, an orphan who is tricked into an intimate relationship with an aristocrat who later abandons her when she is pregnant with his child. Ruth, distraught, struggles with the social strictures that paint her as an irredeemable sinner. Can she and her child survive? Read Ruth to find out.
Publishing Details
Publisher: Floating Press, The
Date: February 14, 2011
ISBN13: 9781775450054
ISBN: 1775450058
File types: Mobile, ePub
  grosssl | Mar 1, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Gaskellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dolin, TimEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Easson, AngusEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shelston, AlanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Drop, drop, slow tears!
And bathe those beauteous feet,
Which brought from heaven
The news and Prince of peace.
Cease not, wet eyes,
For mercy to entreat:
To cry for vengeance
Sin doth never cease.
In your deep floods
Drown all my faults and fears
Nor let His eye
See sin, but through my tears.
Phineas Fletcher
Dedication
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There is an assize-town in one of the eastern counties which was much distinguished by the Tudor sovereigns, and, in consequence of their favour and protection, attained a degree of importance that surprises the modern traveller.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140434305, Paperback)

Ruth Hilton is an orphaned young seamstress who catches the eye of a gentleman, Henry Bellingham, who is captivated by her simplicity and beauty. When she loses her job and home, he offers her comfort and shelter, only to cruelly desert her soon after. Nearly dead with grief and shame, Ruth is offered the chance of a new life among people who give her love and respect, even though they are at first unaware of her secret - an illegitimate child. When Henry enters her life again, however, Ruth must make the impossible choice between social acceptance and personal pride.

In writing Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell daringly confronted prevailing views about sin and illegitimacy with her compassionate and honest portrait of a 'fallen woman'.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:55 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"Ruth Hilton is an orphaned young seamstress who catches the eye of a gentleman, Henry Bellingham, who is captivated by her simplicity and beauty. When she loses her job and home, he offers her comfort and shelter, only to cruelly desert her soon after. Nearly dead with grief and shame, Ruth is offered the chance of a new life among people who give her love and respect, even though they are at first unaware of her secret - an illegitimate child. When Henry enters her life again, however, Ruth must make the impossible choice between social acceptance and personal pride"--Goodreads.com.… (more)

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