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Ruth

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  3,014 ratings  ·  233 reviews
The heroine of this novel is Ruth Hilton, an orphan and a dressmaker's assistant, who is seduced, becomes pregnant and is heartlessly deserted by Henry Bellingham.

A dissenting minister, Thurston Benson, and his sister shelter Ruth in their home. it is a kindly act enabling her to realize her love for her child, and to live her life with strength and purpose, until illness
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Published January 1st 2000 by Audio Bookshelf (first published 1853)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kristina A
Jun 12, 2008 Kristina A rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Victorian novels or Gaskell
Recommended to Kristina by: Emily from the Victorians Institute conference
Shelves: victorian
It's funny; Gaskell's novels seems to me to be what everyone thinks of as a "Victorian novel," and yet she is not really read or taught widely. Just a thought.

Unlike some of the other readers, I did not love the character of Ruth. A lot of people say that Victorian heroines are always too good to be true, and I can see that point, but Ruth seriously is too good... in my opinion, too good to be very attached to as a reader. The narrator and Mr. Benson keep saying she has faults, but her faults se
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Sarah
Feb 26, 2008 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Others might have found this book problematic because of all the scriptural references that Mrs. Gaskell quotes but I found it refreshing and loveable. Her writing is very sympathatic towards Ruth although not all of the characters in this novel are near being as Christ-like as Mr. and Miss Benson. Sally the housekeeper kept the humor and a few tears in the book for me but Ruth's character was unmistakable of pure love for all mankind even at her death and her forgiving heart to nurse back the l ...more
MichelleCH
3.5**

Ruth drove me crazy; women who are vulnerable and have such terrible obstacles thrown at them should gain
empathy. Gaskell seemed to go to the extreme with Ruth: tragedy, poverty, isolation and no fight. Her character felt one-dimensional.

Ruth starts alone in the world working as a dressmaker, at the beginning she shows empathy towards a fellow dressmaker and some spunk which does make her likable. She meets a Mr. Bellingham, who is completely narcissistic and infatuated with her innocence/
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Diane Lynn
The story of Ruth Hilton is told by an unknown narrator looking back after “many years.” It takes place during the Victorian era. Ruth is a 15 year old seamstress working long hours as an apprentice. She is also an orphan and very beautiful, and more importantly, she is very naive and innocent.

She was little accustomed to oppose the wishes of any one— obedient and docile by nature, and unsuspicious and innocent of any harmful consequences.

She knew that she was beautiful; but that seemed abstrac
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Elaine
Mar 16, 2012 Elaine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adult women
Recommended to Elaine by: Tricia S
I had a hard time getting into this book at first. When I finally gave up trying to get through the laborious introduction criticizing Mrs. Gaskell's work, then I could hardly put it down. This book evoked many emotions in me -- I laughed, I cried, I disliked certain characters, and loved others. I believe that is a sign of a good book! The story takes place in the mid-1800's and revolves around the main character, Ruth, who has been orphaned and through some innocently-made poor choices, finds ...more
Carol
Published in 1853, Ruth is Elizabeth Gaskell’s second novel and deals with the "theme of the fallen woman in the mid-Victorian era". The story of the long suffering heroine, Ruth Hilton, is almost entirely based on a real life case that Gaskell herself encountered and helped resolve during her many charitable works as the wife of a Unitarian minister in Manchester. Like her first novel, Mary Barton (1848), Ruth is intended as a "social-problem novel". Although Gaskell tried a lesser harsh appr ...more
Vanessa
Mar 29, 2012 Vanessa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Victorian Lit
Recommended to Vanessa by: Mom
Shelves: favorites
Ruth is 16, recently orphaned and sent to work in harsh, oppressive conditions as a seamstress. She is extremely naive and exceptionally beautiful, and also very lonely, making her easy prey for the rich and self-serving 23-year-old Mr. Bellingham. He endears himself to her with kind words and friendship, but when her employer sees her out walking with him, she is suddenly and unjustly fired from her position. With no means to obtain food or shelter, Ruth is rightly terrified. Mr. Bellingham tak ...more
Badlydone
Ruth is the story of an extremely beautiful and very young orphan girl who is seduced by a young gentleman, Mr. Bellingham, and left with child. There is no redemption for the fallen woman in Victorial England, the the innocent and good Ruth faces many trials and tribulations. Her only true friends in this ordeal are Mr. and Miss Benson and their servant Sally. Ruth goes on to have the baby and stays with the Bensons, the story being that she is the widowed sister of Miss Benson. Events take a t ...more
Lucinda Elliot
Mar 28, 2011 Lucinda Elliot rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gaskell enthusiasts
This is a stirring tragic novel, if melodramatic at times. Gaskell is at pains to point out that Ruth is blameless of her 'sin', being it seems ignorant of sex, but she regards her as having innocently sinned anyway, and this leads on to her expiation of humiliation and self-sacrifice. Very unfair.

This relentlessness on the part of the author did make me indignant. Why is poor Ruth so pursued for fornication when many male characters get away with far more serious misdoings - for instance, Char
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Charis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Camille
This is the second Elizabeth Gaskell novel that I have read. I think one of the things that is always shocking to me as I read classic novels is the change in the value of virtue that has taken place in just a little over a hundred years. Ruth the main character in the book makes a poor choice as a youth to have a relationship with a rich man out of wedlock and she spends the rest of her life paying for it. No matter how good she is when the truth comes out about her past it overshadows everythi ...more
Laurie
Def not my favorite Gaskell story. This was only her second novel and I admire her for being ambitious enough to take on such a novel, especially so early in her career. Surely even a male author during this time would have suffered from public scrutiny, but as a female author I believe she was even more harshly judged.

This novel is a surprisingly compassionate portrayal of a situation that was strongly abhorred during that time. While I appreciated Ruth’s determination and the faith that she ma
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Erin
This is the fourth Elizabeth Gaskell book I have read and with this book she has firmly cemented her position as one of my top five authors. This is a beautiful book. It is a slow read, but a good slow read. It's just the kind of book you don't want to rush through. And I think it was very courageous of her to right a book like this. I'm sure in her time it was quite an outrageous topic to tackle! But she succeeded perfectly.

I loved the characters. They all have their flaws and yet they are all
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Elizabeth
I really liked this book. I was a little put off by the intro in the book that talked about how melodramatic and unrealistic the character of Ruth is. I was ready to not like the book, or at least not feel a connection to the characters. I didn't mind the melodrama because I expect it from writings at this time. Also, I felt that the almost-perfection of Ruth was necessary because of the extreme prejudice toward women at this time in regards to unwed mothers.(Among other things.) I think that Ga ...more
Laura
Gaskell succeeds again at writing a captivating story with fascinating characters and thought-provoking themes. All of her books portray her intense social conscience, but each depicts a variety of conflicts, thus creating a fresh experience with each book. "Ruth" describes a society that is self-righteous and judgmental, and Gaskell specifically criticizes her society that keeps women naïve but then punishes them for their innocence. She does this by juxtaposing the self- righteous members of h ...more
Cynthia
I really, really enjoyed this book. Written in 1853, it covers the life of young Ruth Hilton, an innocent orphan. She is led astray by a charming young man and ends up abandoned and pregnant. An interesting subject for the time period, but Gaskell handles it tactfully. The first part of the book is a little slow, but by the end you love Ruth so much that you can't help but be interested in her ultimate fate.
I thought it was an interesting look at the attitudes of people during the time period to
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Laura
Jul 03, 2014 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Misfit, Jeannette
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
A pretty orphan is apprenticed to a dressmaker. Stars Rory Kinnear


This is not my cup of tea....
Erin
"Ruth" is the second novel of 19th century English writer, Elizabeth Gaskell. Our main character, Ruth Hilton is an orphaned young seamstress, barely sixteen, who falls to the charms of a wealthy and spoiled young man, Henry Bellingham. While the storyline may seem to be like so many others, there is just something about Gaskell's "Ruth" that makes the story seem fresh and new. There is often a tendency of us 21st century folk to believe that we invented "open-mind" philosophies. Albeit there a ...more
Romily
This was a frustrating re-read. I admire Elizabeth Gaskell for tackling difficult themes - in this novel, the seduction by a wealthy and spoilt young man of a naïve girl of 15 who subsequently has an illegitimate child. However I detest the conventions of the time that insist on her life-long repentance and the ostracism of her son. Mixed in with the somewhat mawkish descriptions of Ruth's self-loathing are flashes of strong will and spirit as she learns to live with her disgrace and support her ...more
Natalie
Elizabeth Gaskell is fast becoming my favorite author. She writes such a wide variety of literature and is very passionate about the social issues that she writes about.

Ruth was so interesting to me because I read about Gaskell in the introduction. At the time if a woman had sexual relations and wasn't married let alone had a baby out of wedlock, that was it. You were done for. No repentance, you were shunned no matter the circumstances. You were either forced into a life of prostitution or sent
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Mel
I read a lovely old 1887 version of this book which I found on ebay for about £8. The "cheaper" illustrated green cloth, and black and gold gilt versions which are always easy to find for Thackeray, but this was the first one I saw for Mrs. Gaskell. The book had 5 stories Ruth, The Gray Woman, Morton Hall, Mr. Harrison's Confessions, and Hand and Heart. Ruth was very enjoyable. A story that was quite controversial at the time, apparently burned by a member of her husband's congregation. It is in ...more
Annette
'm embarrassed to admit that I've been a bit afraid of this book. I'd heard it was considered one of the saddest of tales in British literature. In the past I'd started this book at least twice, then stopped.
I'm over-joyed to say I fell in love with this book and finished reading it Sunday night!
It is a beautiful story. It is not a cheerful story, but it is a story of sweet- tenderness, sacrifice and love.

Ruth Hilton, when we first meet her is an auburn haired teenage girl working long hours in
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Lindsey
I would give this a 4.5, but they don't have that option. I am really loving Elizabeth Gaskell. She is just fantastic. I would say that Elizabeth is like if Charles Dickens and Jane Austen had a child. She has the reality of Dickens, but not quite so wordy. And the romantic sensibility of Austen, yet not so witty. Anyway, "Ruth" was very very good. Very sad, but very good. I borrowed this book from my mom, as always. And when she lent it to me she said, "It's a story of redemption." And that's e ...more
Alicia
I just love Elizabeth Gaskell's writing.

This novel was written in 1853, soon after the Scarlet Letter was published, and is also about an unmarried woman who has a baby. Interesting story, but I liked Elizabeth Gaskell's other books (North and South, Wives and Daughters, and Mary Barton) much better.

Quotes:

"People may talk as they will about the little respect that is paid to virtue, unaccompanied by the outward accidents of wealth or station; but I rather think it will be found that, in the lo
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Charla Wilson
The first thing I should mention about this book is that it is the first time I have read a Elizabeth Gaskell novel, and it was so wonderful that I cannot wait to read another one! This book took my breath away! It was so beautifully written that I did not want to put it down. Elizabeth Gaskell has a way with words that evokes such strong emotions in the reader. Her words provide such imagery throughout the book that you can actually smell the fragrance in the air, and most importantly, to feel ...more
Ruth
Why had I never heard of this book before? I picked it up on a whim as it was the only remotely interesting looking audio book on shelf at the library. I ended up falling in love with it. Oh, in some ways the format was predictable, I suppose, but I really did get to know and love many of the characters. Or, in the case of Mr.Bradshaw, a character that from the first irritated me with his self righteous, patronizing attitude. He SO reminded me of some ultra-legalistic fathers I've come across--w ...more
Virginia
This book does not get the attention it deserves. Gaskell is one of the best female authors who ever lived. It is extremely sad that most people in this world do not even know who she is. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story, loves good writing, and who wants to be inspired. This book is full of redemption, forgiveness, sadness, joy, peace, and God's faithfulness.

Ruth is about a girl who has no family and finds herself being guided by those who are selfish and live wret
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Martha
This book was a strange mix of sentimental and unconventional. The heroine is a bit too perfect, like a typical heroine in an 18th- or 19th-century sentimental novel. Even though early on she makes one big mistake and engages in behavior that at the time was thought to be sinful and even wicked (shacking up with a man), it's only through inexperience and vulnerability and a perceived lack of options. After her initial wrong-doing she is unfailingly pure-hearted and noble. She is also naturally s ...more
Melinda Ross
I just can't come up with the words that I want to express how I felt about this book. With all of Elizabeth Gaskell's books I have been so impressed with how well she truly understood the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well as the basic principles that all men need to work together and be successful.

This book just exemplified that for me. Using Mr. Benson as the mouth piece and Ruth as the personification, she so well explains the anguish of sin, even through ignorance, and yet the amazing power of
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Jane
I could hardly wait to read this each evening. My heart was in my throat more than once, and often read until the book slipped from my grasp in the wee hours. Even though the novel was marred for me by the transformation of Ruth into a living saint toward the very end, I still must award it four stars.
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Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to socia ...more
More about Elizabeth Gaskell...
North and South Wives and Daughters Cranford Mary Barton The Life of Charlotte Brontë

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“Similarity of opinion is not always—I think not often—needed for fullness and perfection of love.” 26 likes
“Ask , and it shall be given until you. That is no vain or untried promise, Ruth!” 5 likes
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