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The Moorland Cottage (original 1850; edition 2009)

by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

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838145,226 (3.53)9
Member:Gwendolen_North
Title:The Moorland Cottage
Authors:Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2009), Paperback, 84 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:19th century British, already read

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The Moorland Cottage by Elizabeth Gaskell (1850)

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This novella was first published in 1850. The story is set over a period of about 12 years.

It features two families, one of which lives in Moorland Cottage. The household consists of a widow, her young son and daughter, and an old servant. The late husband/father used to be friends with the more wealthy Mr Buxton, who lives with his invalid wife, his son, and his niece. Because of the former friendship with the widow's late husband, Mr Buxton occasionally visits the poorer family and invites them to his house.

The widow is one of these superficial prude-types, who dotes over her son, while her daughter can do nothing right. As a result, the son grows evermore selfish whilst the daughter strives to be her best, despite receiving no praise from her mother, and being treated like a servant by her brother. Luckily the Buxton family can see things as they really are.

At times I felt a little bored by long-winded descriptions, but in the main I found this to be a well-plotted piece that displays Mrs Gaskell's talents at creating believable characters. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Apr 26, 2014 |
In Gaskell’s classic novel, she has created a family with complicated family dynamics which she expertly weaves around the mores and social problems faced by all Victorian women while emphasizing their strength and grace.

Beautifully written. ( )
  debbieaheaton | Feb 8, 2014 |
Prior to coming upon this book recently, I had thought I had read all Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels and most of her short stories years ago, I re-read Cranford two years ago and loved it all over again. I was therefore both surprised and delighted to come across this short novel which I hadn’t either read or heard of. What a treat!
“If you take the turn to the left, after you pass the lyke-gate at Combehurst Church, you will come to the wooden bridge over the brook; keep along the field path, which mounts higher and higher, and, in half a mile or so, you will be in a breezy upland field, almost large enough to be called a down, where sheep pasture on short, fine, elastic turf. You look down on Combehurst and its beautiful church spire. After the field is crossed, you come to a common, richly coloured with the golden gorse and the purple heather, which in summer time send out their warm scents into the quiet air. The swelling waves of the upland make a near horizon against the sky; the line is only broken in one place by a small grove of small Scotch firs, which always look black and shadowed even at midday, when all the rest of the landscape seems bathed in sunlight.”
The Moorland Cottage is just over 140 pages long, and is a charming beautifully constructed little story. Maggie Browne is the daughter of a deceased clergyman, who lives with her widowed mother and her brother Edward in the moorland cottage of the title. Her mother is almost unreasonably devoted to her son; Maggie is expected to devote herself likewise to him. While her mother carps and criticises Maggie – she seems incapable of seeing any fault in her son – who is in fact very far from faultless. The family’s servant Nancy loves Maggie dearly and tries to make up a little for her mother’s neglect.
The Brownes are befriended by local landowner Mr Buxton, who lives nearby with his ailing wife, his son Frank and niece Erminia. Mrs Buxton takes particularly to Maggie – and encourages Maggie to visit her frequently, times in which Mrs Buxton seeks to guide Maggie in her own gentle ways. Maggie is thrown into company with Frank and Erminia too, with whom she develops strong friendships.
“Erminia and Maggie went, with their arms round each other’s necks, to Mrs Buxton’s dressing room. The misfortune had made them friends. Mrs Buxton lay on the sofa, so fair and white and colourless, in her muslin dressing gown, that when Maggie first saw the lady lying with her eyes shut, her heart gave a start, for she thought she was dead. But she opened her large, languid eyes, and called them to her, and listened to their story with interest.”
Yet Maggie’s future happiness is threatened by her brother’s selfish disregard. When Edward’s very liberty is under threat Maggie is expected to sacrifice herself for his good. Maggie proves herself a strong minded and steadfast young woman as she strives to do right by her family and keep her own hopes for the future alive. The ending of this lovely little novel is marvellously dramatic and satisfying. Maggie is a wonderful character, generous intelligent and loyal without being too good to be true - as some nineteenth century heroines can be.
So glad I discovered this little gem – I may have to re-read some of my other Elizabeth Gaskell novels too. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Oct 9, 2012 |
This is undoubtedly not Gaskell's best work, but an enjoyable quick read nonetheless. Recommended for fans of the classics whenever you're seeking a bit of light relief. ( )
  cazfrancis | May 30, 2011 |
The Browne siblings could not be more different: sweet, mild mannered Maggie and rough, self-centered Ned. How are their lives affected when they are introduced to the Buxton family, a well-to-do country family?

The widow Mrs. Browne has high hopes for her son, yet cuts her daughter at every turn. Mr. Buxton takes an interest in Ned's schooling, while his son Frank and niece Erminia sympathizes for Maggie's ill treatment at the hands of her family. How far will Maggie go to keep peace in the family?

For anyone who has watched 'Return to Cranford' this short story by Gaskell was inter-woven into the story line (with a few alterations of course). As a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell's work, I can say it is no North and South or Mary Barton, it still has tragedy and intrigue but on a much lighter level. I do reccomend it as a great quick and easy read! ( )
  Shuffy2 | Mar 23, 2011 |
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Originally published in 1850, 'The Moorland Cottage' plays on culturally pertinent themes of childhood and infant suffering and resilience.

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