Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Esther Waters” as Want to Read:
Esther Waters
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Esther Waters

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  314 ratings  ·  25 reviews
from the early 1870s onward, the novel is about a young, pious woman from a poor working class family who, while working as a kitchen maid, is seduced by another employee, becomes pregnant, is deserted by her lover, and against all odds decides to raise her child as a single mother. Esther Waters is one of a group of Victorian novels that depict the life of a "fallen woman ...more
Nook, 383 pages
Published January 2nd 2011 by Classic Romances (first published 1894)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Esther Waters, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Esther Waters

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-29 of 739)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ester Waters is the story of a poor young servant girl in a naturalist style influenced by Emile Zola. Like most such novels the story could be unfairly summarised in but a few sentences and could be labelled `boring', especially if you can tick the usual boxes of `someone dying of consumption' (usually at the most poignant moment), `a disgraced pregnancy' or `has ruthless boss/guardian/husband' - all three are here with Ester.

The story is an unmarried servant girl gets pregnant, loses her job
Lucinda Elliot
Mar 27, 2011 Lucinda Elliot rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone, particularly women interested in Victoria novels
Recommended to Lucinda by: found it in library
I'm amazed to be happy to give such a high rating to a story of an unlucky girl who has a baby outside marriage written by a Victorian man, but while I read this a few years ago, I did think that George Moore's handling of the subject was warm and sensitive. Given Victorian delicacies regarding sexuality, the vagueness as to whether Esther has been taken advantage of by her lover or was compliant because of the extra ale she had is perhaps to be expected, and rather similar to Thomas Hary's equi ...more
‘Esther Waters’ was one of those classic novels that I circled for a long time, wondering if I should pick it up or pass it by. The story of a servant who fell pregnant and then struggled to raise her illegitimate son could be profound but it could be grim. When I read Emma’s wonderful review I knew that I had to pick the book up, and now that I’ve read it I have to say that I’m very glad that I did.

It focuses on many of the problems of Victorian society – poverty, gambling, intoxication, inequi
Mar 19, 2013 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kim, Jeannette
Recommended to Laura by: Wanda, Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - CLassical Serial
By George Moore. Stirring tale of how a servant girl makes her way in Victorian England. Dramatised by Sharon Oakes.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
Feb 14, 2014 Lilian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in the fin de siecle, history of the novel, strong heroines
This is a fabulous and neglected book written in the 1890's. A strong heroine, fascinating portrayal of working class life in London and the culture of betting on horses. Esther Waters is a young single mom, making her way despite the odds. Wonderfully evocative. Much better than other well known fin de siecle books that have soppy heroines.
Louisa Reid
I loved Esther's story...not so much the horse racing, and it was strange how the son disappeared for quite a portion of the novel when he was her main focus for so long...Nevertheless, moving and a great insight into 19th C morality.
Christopher Roden
It's hard to believe that this novel caused such a sensation when it was first published in 1894, so much so that it even had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writing letters to the press to defend it against the charges of obscenity that were being levied. By modern standards, the sensationalism is timid, but Moore has woven warnings against drinking and gambling into the story of the life of a young serving girl who becomes pregnant by a young man who has promised her marriage. Needless to say he desert ...more
Jennifer Dallman
Librivox reading on this.

I was a bit frustrated by the story in it's gaping holes in the story. From one chapter to the next, a year or more would pass, or you would be looking in on someone else and it didn't flow very well for me. The concept of raising our children really has changed over the years, Esther wouldn't see her son for months sometimes as he was raised by a caretaker while she was in service. The betting and teetotalling messages were probably relevant for the times, but it got t
Susan Bernstein
I loved all the London sections, especially so much in Chelsea, King's Road, Sydney Street, Onslow Gardens, Brompton Royal Hospital--all in neighborhood where I lived earlier this year. All that aside, I don't think I've read another Victorian novel that describes pregnancy, labor, and birth with such vividness, and then later dying and death. If "realism" is about such common events getting full play in fiction, this is a fine example. I loved the circular narrative structure too and the ending ...more
My favorite book ever!
Claire Tomelty
Book Review- Esther Waters by George Moore

This is a novel I studied at university as part of a course on Naturalist Fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it then and when I re-read it recently after listening to a BBC Radio 4 play of it; I enjoyed it just as much.

Naturalists, such as Thomas Hardy and Stephen Crane were the forerunners of modernism. In their writing they placed emphasis on the lives of the lower classes: the themes in Esther Waters are predicable; the bleakness and difficulties of that
After reading so many books and seeing so many TV series on how the wealthy lived during the late 1800's, it was refreshing to read a book about how the rest of the English society fared during this time. Quite a contrast! And to be a woman in those times was the worst, especially young unmarried mothers. They were not only looked down upon by the men, but by the women of their own class as well as upper class women. I never realized what a big part gambling on horse racing played during this ti ...more
Feb 24, 2014 Courtney marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From BBC Radio 4 - CLassical Serial
By George Moore. Stirring tale of how a servant girl makes her way in Victorian England. Dramatised by Sharon Oakes.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg. -- I'll have to check it our here.
This is an empowering book about a strong-willed and resilient heroine, set within challenging times for women, who is able to conquer the day-to-day challenges destitute women faced within her time.
James Brown
Socially significant, I'm sure, but pretty tough going. I much preferred The Untilled Field.
Virginia Woolf declared that Esther Waters had "sincerity, shapeliness, style...surpassing seriousness and integrity," but that it was "completely lacking in dramatic power." That final judgment is harsh--here's more of it: "..but because Mr. Moore has not the strength to project Esther from himself [the novel's] virtues collapse and fall about it lack a tent with a broken pole." It's impossible not to compare EW to Tess, and for all its bombast, the latter is the greater novel. Be that as it ma ...more
Susan Bybee
I really mean a four and a half.
This classic is a worthwhile read. It does a good job giving a glimpse into the hard life faced by a working class women faced with out of wedlock pregnancy and the subsequent journey of raising her son. Many moral dilemmas are faced and she perseveres through unideal situations with courage.
Doreen Petersen
A delightful read. Started off slow but got much better as the story went along. A really good classic!

Spotted on Wanda's profile. Free from Gutenberg :

Classic Serial R4

Famous last words: The horse is a dead cert!

#66 TBR Busting 2013
I thought this would be a lot grimmer and grittier than it was. There was certainly an element of grim - a single mother's lot in the 1890s was never going to be a bed of roses, but ultimately it was all quite unaffecting. Perhaps there was just too much about betting for my taste.
Pretty good. Not my favorite, but pretty good. Interesting look into the harms of betting/gambling.
A bit of Tess of the d'Urbervilles thrown in....Wasn't quite expecting some of things that happened--in fact I was pleasantly surprised a few times.
A great novel by naturalist author, George Moore. If you like sad stories like Jude the Obscure, you'll like this. Fast paced and very accessible, and it's a touching story.
Prachee marked it as to-read
Nov 25, 2015
Marie Carls
Marie Carls marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2015
Hyo-Won marked it as to-read
Nov 23, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 24 25 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • Rachel Ray
  • The Nether World
  • Hester
  • The Egoist
  • Deerbrook
  • Castle Rackrent and Ennui
  • Pictures from Italy
  • The Awkward Age
  • Anna of the Five Towns
  • The Morgesons
George Augustus Moore (24 February 1852 – 21 January 1933) was an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist. Moore came from a Roman Catholic landed family who lived at Moore Hall in Carra, County Mayo. He originally wanted to be a painter, and studied art in Paris during the 1870s. There, he befriended many of the leading French artists and writers of the day.
More about George Moore...

Share This Book