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Lois the Witch

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  322 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Set against the backdrop of the Salem witch hunts, Elizabeth Gaskell’s somber novella reveals much about the complicity of mankind. Recently orphaned, Lois is forced to leave the English parsonage that had been her home and sail to America. A God-fearing and honest girl, she has little to concern her in this new life. Yet as she joins her distant family, she finds jealousy ...more
Paperback, 94 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Hesperus Press (first published 1861)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,228)
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Mar 20, 2015 Oscar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘La bruja Lois’ (Lois the Witch, 1859) es un retrato perfecto del fanatismo religioso imperante en Nueva Inglaterra a finales del siglo XVII. El lector acompaña a la protagonista, Lois, recién llegada desde Inglaterra al nuevo continente. Al quedarse huérfana es acogida por su nueva familia en Salem, Nueva Inglaterra, donde las costumbres le son extrañas y donde su conducta es analizada escrupulosamente. El desprecio de sus familiares y la indefensión ante el fanatismo que está creciendo como un ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Verity rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
Well written short story that is among the best of Gaskell's work, in my humble opinion. Set amongst the American witch trials of the 1600s, the work fills you with frenzy as the momentum of accusations against Lois increase and leaving you powerless to stop them. The only sense of relief comes with the shared anger and pain with the fiancee.
Nov 08, 2010 Mikel rated it really liked it
The ending was beautiful. What a heart touching short story by Mrs. Gaskell. It portrayed the Salem witch trials as they would have been viewed by countries other than America. Well worth your time to read. Lovely and harrowing.
Ignacio Senao f
Esta muchacha queda huérfana, y la moribunda de su madre la hace promete que se irá con su hermano (tío) Ella dice que si.

Al llegar a la casa de su tío, ve que hay otro moribundo (debe ser genético esto de morir) y se muere al poco de llegar ella (hicieron buenas migas), pues nada, que se queda con la viuda e hijo. Todos estos unas arpías.

Total… que ahora en ese pueblo que casualmente se llama Salem, les da por la moda de quemar brujas y que todas son brujas…
Oct 12, 2015 Sharon rated it liked it
This book was suggested to me by a friend after I said I wanted to read more books set in Salem.

1691, Lois Barclay goes to New England after her parents die in Old England. She moves in with her mother's estranged brother and his family. Over the coming months, after some tragedies in the town, Lois along with others are accused of witchcraft.

"The Sin of Witchcraft - We read about it, we look on it from the outside, but we can hardly realise the terror it induced. Every impulsive or unaccustom
May 22, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
I will finish this book this evening but I know enough about it to write a review worthy of it. "Lois the Witch" is about a young English girl who comes to the American colonies to live with her Uncle and his family after her parents in England have passed away from sickness. Lois is greeted coolly by her relatives who are ardent Puritans who look down negatively upon Lois's Anglican background. In fact, it is their welcome that gives new meaning to the word, "stuffy". They are as rigid as a boa ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics-read
This book sucks you in. It is so sad. It is super short and a quick read. Gaskell really captured the feelings of Salem and the whisperings of strange things and witchcraft. What a time to be alive!
Grace Harwood
Apr 10, 2015 Grace Harwood rated it it was amazing
Just 95 pages long, this is a small, perfectly-formed story of poor Lois, who, when her parents die, leaving her an orphan in Warwickshire, is taken to New England for a new life with her Uncle and his hideous puritan family. However, unfortunately for Lois, she's traveling to Salem just at the wrong time (around 1692-ish), and she soon finds herself alone and unfriended, with her bed-ridden Uncle, her mad cousin (who keeps insisting that she is "foredoomed" to marry him), two spiteful female co ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 20, 2014 Julian rated it it was amazing
I found this novella difficult to get through. It tugged at every moral and empathy fibre in my brain, intensifying the tragedy of the human condition. Perhaps I found it even more uncomfortable in that I empathised also with the Puritan perpetrators: humans who committed horrendous acts, in the service of their projections of fears of uncertainty and intrusion onto others, who are then transformed into demonic images whose construction is only aided by the Puritan beliefs (delusions) at the tim ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Rod rated it liked it
A solid, chilling story recounting one young girl's experience of being swallowed up in the suspicion and hysteria of the Salem Witch trials. Written by a Unitarian, wife of a Unitarian minister, which probably doesn't mean a lot to most people but I find interesting :-)
„Lois the witch“ ist eine Novella, die Gaskell 1859 veröffentlichte.
Gaskell erzählt die Geschichte von Lois Barcley, die nach dem Tod ihrer Eltern 1691 zu ihrem Onkel nach Salem reist. Als sie dort ankommt, ist ihr Onkel leider bereits verstorben und seine Witwe mit ihren vielen Kindern ist nicht sonderlich begeistert über den Familienzuwachs.
Salem ist ein kleines Kaff umgeben von Wald. Im Winter kann man da schon mal den Lagerkoller bekommen. Man kann nirgends weg, der Wald ist gefährlich, im
Apr 13, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
Really quite sad, yet an interesting look at the mania prevalent at those times (Salem) and why it even existed. A surprisingly dark book as Abby stated, but still well written and a lot of depth for a "novelette."
Jan 05, 2011 Kirstie rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
It's a lot like the Crucible by Author Miller and somewhat reminiscent of the Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. A good little short-story but sad like all stories dealing with witch trials.
Andrea Buschman
Aug 12, 2013 Andrea Buschman rated it really liked it
I'm always fascinated by books that tell about the Salem witch hysteria. If someone didn't like you, they could scream witch and before you knew it, you were on trial, or hanging from the gallows.
Sep 12, 2011 Marnie rated it liked it
This is a short story for a Salem witch trial book but you feel for poor Lois very quickly. I felt bad for Lois, sent to live with relatives in America at the wrong time in history.
Sep 30, 2012 Laurence rated it liked it
This short tragic story of a young British girl confronted to the Salem hysteria is a good way to learn about the famous witches trial in 1692.
May 12, 2009 Abby rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a short little story--a little dark, but very good. I love how Gaskell writes so that you feel what the character is feeling.
Jul 26, 2013 Emma rated it it was amazing
A really interesting insight- a 'historical' novel written during the Victorian era.
Sep 10, 2012 Courtney rated it liked it
A short book about one of my favorite topics...Salem Witch Trials!
Jul 16, 2008 Janna is currently reading it
Very intersting book! It is about a girl in the salem witch trails.
Feb 05, 2016 Dr.J.G. rated it really liked it
Story of an innocent English orphan young girl sent to New England to seek out her only living relative by her dying mother getting caught up in the Salem mayhem due to the prejudiced and ignorant immigrants to the new lands and accused of being a witch due to a young spiteful child's plea for calling attention to herself through accusing someone of witchcraft. Sordid example of religious persecution that would not tolerate, much less understand, differences within branches of the same religion.
Russell Grant
I read the "Red Classics" version of this book. It features four stories in total:

The Poor Clair - The story of a servant woman who place a curse and the consequences of the action. I think I liked this one the best.

The Doom of The Griffins - I don't remember it at all.

Lois The Witch - Tells the sad story of Lois, a British girl who is sent to Salem after the death of her parents, and get's mixed up in the witch trials. It's not bad, the problem I have with it is in about the first 5 pages you k
Nov 12, 2008 Isil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Gaskell dont je suis une grande fan depuis ma découverte de Nord et Sud, écrit une novella, un récit court mais excellent en partant d’une histoire vraie, celle de la paranoïa collective qui s’empara de la petite ville de Salem à la fin du XVIIe siècle et qui conduisit à l’arrestation de 200 personnes pour sorcellerie et à la pendaison d’une vingtaine d’entre elles. Gaskell parvient à réunir tous les ingrédients qui vont conduire à cette horreur. La famille de Loïs est exemplaire du po ...more
My Inner Shelf
Feb 25, 2013 My Inner Shelf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J’avais déjà lu deux nouvelles de la copine de Dickens, et ça ne m’avait pas spécialement interpellée. Avant d’attaquer Nord et Sud, j’ai retenté avec La sorcière de Salem. Nous y voilà ! Le propos est déjà bien lourd de sens, l’auteur nous relate des faits franchement horribles et désormais mythiques au travers du destin funeste d’une jeune Anglaise. Orpheline depuis peu, Loïs Barclay exauce le dernier vœu de sa mère et part rejoindre son oncle paternel installé en Amérique, laissant son amoure ...more
Dina Hady
Apr 12, 2012 Dina Hady rated it really liked it
it’s an interesting glimpse from American history. It handles a period that novelists later on found very enticing, the time of the famous witch trials in Salem, New England.
This time was fertile land for mystery and horror writers in the 20th century but for a social/historic writer as Elizabeth Gaskell in the nineteenth century, what was her aspect?
Her different perspective is what attracted me to this short story; it’s not an ordinary witch story about extraordinary gifts or horrific experien
Jan 02, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: history, litfic
Lois is the orphaned daughter of a Church of England minister who travels to the colonies to find her uncle at the request of her dying mother, as well as to keep from alienating the man who loves her from his family. She finds herself in Salem in 1691 with a dying uncle, an aunt who doesn't care for her, and cousins who are, variously, jealous of her, in love with her, and creepily sociopathic. This combination of being a newcomer and a burden on her extended family won't serve Lois well during ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at the Salem witch trials. As the wife of a unitarian minister, Gaskell tells the story from a unique perspective, looking back on an event nearly 200 years before in a different country, with a sense of history and philosophy on the dark side of humanity, the strength of faith, and the beauty of forgiveness.
Christy Austen
A very interesting short story. Makes me wanna read the hell out of Gaskell.
Gary Taylor
Feb 18, 2015 Gary Taylor rated it it was ok
This has been my first introduction to Gaskell's work and I shan't let it deter me from reading her full length novels.
The title itself leaves in no doubt the fate of the main character,Lois.I did find my mind wandering whilst reading this novella,none of the characters really garnered my empathy.
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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
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