Lois the Witch
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Lois the Witch

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  206 ratings  ·  26 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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Hesperus Classics
22nd out of 170 books — 13 voters
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128th out of 157 books — 127 voters


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Community Reviews

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Verity
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.
Mikel
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.
Julian
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
Rod
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 :-)
Michelle
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."
Laura
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!
Kirstie
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
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.
Marnie
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.
Laurence
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.
Abby
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.
Emma
A really interesting insight- a 'historical' novel written during the Victorian era.
Courtney
A short book about one of my favorite topics...Salem Witch Trials!
Janna
Jul 16, 2008 Janna is currently reading it
Very intersting book! It is about a girl in the salem witch trails.
Isil
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
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
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...more
Kate
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
Carfig
Took me a while to read this as I am not always a short story fan, preferring longer novel forms. Good writing, with the title piece of interest to me as an American and the Salem witch trial background. And Gaskell being a Brit and writing about this period, how there were whispers of it in England as well, where Lois originated. Interesting, but a hard in my Penguin paperback with the small type and crowded pages.
Fiona
This - despite the publisher's blurb - is actually a collection of four Victorian Gothic short stories. Elizabeth Gaskell was of course the author of Cranford, and in these stories her prose is as readable and elegant as always - but don't look for any happy endings.

Three stars - a good book, I enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't choose to buy it.
Faby
to slow, whit no sence, i dont liked i just finish thisb ook cause i dont like to leave the books like that
Justin Howe
More suspense than horror, definitely enjoyable but loaded down with a Victorian sense of propriety.
Emylie
was not expecting to react so emotionally to this one-sadness, frustration, anger, resignation
Siobhan
Enjoyable but not as enjoyable as 'The Crucible' I have to say.

I'm so sorry Mrs Gaskell!
Jane
Four short stories by Gaskell, not as good as Wives and Daughters or Cranford, but then, what is?
Alice
urgh, dat ending. :'(
Daena
Daena marked it as to-read
Aug 30, 2014
Sarah
Sarah marked it as to-read
Aug 30, 2014
Astrid7marie
Astrid7marie is currently reading it
Aug 29, 2014
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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 soci...more
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North and South Wives and Daughters Cranford Mary Barton The Life of Charlotte Brontë

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