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Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
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Wives and Daughters (1865)

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Other authors: Frederick Greenwood (Author), Graham Handley (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,429522,550 (4.16)237
  1. 70
    Persuasion by Jane Austen (Shuffy2)
    Shuffy2: In addition to North and South by Gaskell, Wives and Daughters is another great read for people who love Austen's Persusion and Sense and Sensibility!
  2. 70
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Cecilturtle)
  3. 30
    Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: Trollope's Mary Thorne and Gaskell's Molly Gibson have much in common: both their father-figures are country doctors with connections to the local nobility, both fall in love with a man above them in station and wealth, both face undeserved public shame in their social circles, and both are sensible, intelligent heroines.… (more)
  4. 20
    Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (Siliverien)
  5. 10
    Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders (susanbooks)
  6. 00
    Middlemarch by George Eliot (christiguc, Hollerama)
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» See also 237 mentions

English (50)  Spanish (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
This is the first Gaskell book that I've read, but I'm not sure why I kept reading as long as I did, as it wasn't really a very enjoyable book. It was overly long for having so little happen, and every little thing felt drawn out and it sometimes got a bit repetitive, due to all the overly detailed descriptions and build-up. And yet, there was still more to come, except that the author had died before writing the rest!

Beyond the length being an issue, the biggest problem was that the characters felt more like paper dolls than real people. It seemed like the author danced around really defining them, getting too caught up in the overly wordy writing style to make them seem like actual humans. A lot more telling than showing.

It also didn't help to have the regular reminders that the story took place some years before it was written, though the author contradicted herself or dated things incorrectly on multiple occasions (as the included endnotes pointed out). Not to mention the annoying overuse of "tête-à-tête!"

Perhaps some of her other works are better written, but this one certainly hasn't made a great initial impression on me, especially after having recently read works by Dickens and Trollope. ( )
  digitalmaven | Jun 12, 2014 |
2006, BBC Audiobooks, Read by Prunella Scales

“The autumn drifted away through all its seasons. The golden corn-harvest, the walks through the stubble-fields, and rambles into hazel-copses in search of nuts; the stripping of the apple-orchards of their ruddy fruit, amid the joyous cries and shouts of watching children; and the gorgeous tulip-like colouring of the later time had now come on with the shortening days. There was comparative silence in the land, excepting for the distant shots, and the whirr of the partridges as they rose up from the field.” (Ch 42)

When young Molly Gibson, being raised by her widowed father, attracts the attention of one of the doctor’s students, she is sent to stay with local gentry family, the Hamleys. She forms a close attachment with Mrs Hamley and befriends the younger son, Roger. The elder Hamley son, Osborne, is naturally expected to make a brilliant marriage following his career at Cambridge. But he performs poorly at university, and social expectations are thwarted. In the meantime, Roger has achieved the academic recognition that was to be his brother’s, and has become a renowned scientist.

Mr Gibson remarries the widow (and social climber) Mrs Kirkpatrick; and she and her daughter, Cynthia, the same age as Molly, become a family. While Molly is delighted to have a sister, the two could not be more different: Molly naïve and slightly awkward; and Cynthia “pretty, pawky, a flirt, and a jilt.” The newlywed Mrs Gibson sets her sights on a match between Cynthia and Osborne Hamley. But, much to Molly’s heartbreak, it is Roger who asks for Cynthia’s hand. Alas, her hand is not free to give … it has been formerly promised to the scoundrel land agent, Mr Preston; and what’s worse, Molly is about to be dragged into Cynthia’s drama and become herself the subject of malicious gossip.

As one would expect of Gaskell, Wives and Daughters is beautifully written and full of rich characters, both adorable and deplorable. I loved the story line, too, but Gaskell died before the novel could be finished, and its denouement, which she had allegedly related to a friend, remains unwritten. Interestingly, the BBC adaptation uses an alternate ending which I found very satisfying. In any case, Prunella Scales has done a wonderful job of narration here, and the novel is highly recommended, particularly to those who love the Victorian classics. ( )
1 vote lit_chick | May 11, 2014 |
For the most part I enjoyed the characters in this book, especially Molly and Roger. The stepmother and stepdaughter were morally bankrupt, insipid characters and Molly had a lot of forbearance in dealing with them. I also like Gaskell's writing style. It is eloquent and draws the reader into the story.

What ruined the book for me was the lack of ending. I was hesitant to read the book because I knew that Gaskell didn't finish it. But from the other reviews I read, many readers said that they still enjoyed the book. It was disappointing to read such a long book and come to an unsatisfactory ending. ( )
  magistrab | Apr 17, 2014 |
Well, well, well. I've added Elizabeth Gaskell to the list as one of my favorite authors. This is the first book I've read by her, and I would highly recommend it. Her other books are going on my To Be Read List immediately.

Wives and Daughters tells the quaint story of a widower who decides that since his daughter, Molly, is growing into a young lady, she needs a mother. He marries widow Hyacinth Clare who has a daughter of her own. That's where things get messy. This is the story of the two families melding together....sort of. There's very rich characterization in this novel. The new mother is distasteful, but not hated. The step-sisters get along great. All the characters have warts, some more than others. I won't tell more of the plot because you must read it.

The author died before she finished the novel. But at 800 pages, she was nearly finished, and you really do know how the story ends. She characterizes small town England in the early 1800's, and in this sweeping saga, we have the pleasure of meeting lords and ladies, town gossips, the tenant farmers, the town doctor and his apprentices, and of course our dear Molly.

"It will be very dull when I shall have killed myself, as it were, and live only in trying to do, and to be as other people like. I don't see any end to it. I might as well never have lived."

"I should hate to be managed," said Molly, indignantly. "I'll try and do what she wishes for papa's sake, if she'll only tell me outright; but I should dislike to be trapped into anything." ( )
1 vote heidip | Apr 1, 2014 |
Very satisfying, though a bit too [b:Mansfield Park|45032|Mansfield Park|Jane Austen|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1212682312s/45032.jpg|2722329]-ish for me to really be head over heels. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Gaskellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greenwood, FrederickAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Handley, GrahamEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alou, DamiánTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arping, ÅsaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arping, ÅsaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bailey, JosephineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kwiatkowska, KatarzynaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lane, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maurier, George DuIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, PamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ott, AndreaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reinhard-Stocker, AliceAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scales, PrunellaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sundström, Gun-BrittTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vierne, BéatriceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood.
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The answer was silly enough, logically; but forcible in fact. Cynthia was Cynthia, and not Venus herself could have been her substitute. In this one thing Mr. Preston was more really true than many worthy men, who, seeking to be married, turn with careless facility from the unattainable to the attainable, and keep their feelings and fancy tolerably loose till they find a woman who consents to be their wife. But no one would ever be to Mr. Preston what Cynthia had been, and was; and yet he could have stabbed her in certain of his moods.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014043478X, Paperback)

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 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A Victorian country gentleman's new marriage produces mixed reactions from family and close associates in his English village.

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Audible.com

Seven editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014043478X, 0141039396, 014138946X

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