Skip to content

Wives and Daughters

April 9, 2009

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell is one of those delightful domestic epics that I recommend to all lovers for British literature and Jane Austen.

Elizabeth Gaskell creates characters that are so vivid they remain in the imagination long after the book is closed. Her characters feel very modern to me. Somehow, they are even more “real” to me than Jane Austen’s characters and those from many other Victorian novels from around the same period that I love. She captures something so human in her characters and is able to transfer that through the page to the reader.

The story is of Molly Gibson, the 17 year old daughter of the local country doctor who remarries–largely for the sake of his daughter. However, tensions soon mount between the new Mrs. Gibson, who although well-meaning, is manipulative and obsesses about her own status and comfort in the small English town. Cynthia, her daughter from another marriage, also comes to live with the family. Cynthia has been abroad for her education and the two very different girls form a tight friendship. This is just the beginning of a story filled with romance, intrigue, mystery, gossip, and misunderstanding.

The most interesting thing about the book was that Gaskell died before being able to complete it. Thankfully, we already basically know how the story will turn out. Elizabeth Gaskell’s editor writes concluding remarks outlining her plan for ending the book.

I was first introduced to this book by the BBC’s very faithful film adaptation of the same name. If you have any inclination to read the book, I urge you to do so before seeing the film, as it is so faithful it will take the “punch” out of the mysteries in the book.

For another review of this book, check out A Library is a Hospital of the Mind’s review.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2009 8:35 pm

    Yeah! I am so glad you enjoyed this book. 🙂 Great post/review.

  2. April 9, 2009 9:04 pm

    You know I’m a non-reader, so I skip right to the movie. I know that’s probably like “sacrirelig” to you, but I have gotten through about 1/2 of this movie series. I was so sad after two weeks of having it at my home to have to take it back to the library without being able to finish watching it. I STILL think about it and can’t wait to finish it. I’m waiting for there to be some hour long chunks of time in my schedule for me to sit down and watch it. I picked it up after watching “North and South” by Glaskell (B Kilbane loaned it to me). I LOVED that movie, too. I think I like Glaskell better than Austen flicks. After I get through “Wives and Daughters”, I’d like to see “Cranford”. Laurie recommended it to me.

  3. April 9, 2009 9:15 pm

    Briana, let me know when you finish “Wives & Daughters.” It is long. It took me 3 months to read the book! 🙂 Cranford is awesome too. Judi Dench is in that and is wonderful!

  4. April 10, 2009 9:03 pm

    Another good, but slightly different read is Ruth. I HIGHLY recommend it. I posted a review in 2008. Mary Barton is on my TBR list for 2009. Neither, unfortunately, have made it to film.

  5. April 11, 2009 5:12 am

    Well, if you’re recommending “Ruth” I’m sure it’s great. I really should try to grab every Gaskell novel and read it . . . I know that one is more weighty in subject matter.

  6. April 13, 2009 8:17 pm

    I love that movie – it’s just so good!


  1. What I read in 2009 « Dancing by the Light

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s