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Wives and Daughters

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  31,583 Ratings  ·  1,674 Reviews
Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centres on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new step-sister enters Molly's quiet life – loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful s ...more
Paperback, 720 pages
Published May 30th 1996 by Penguin Classics (first published 1865)
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Bookworm Sean
May 11, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it liked it
Do you like fairy tales? Well Gaskell certainly did:

"To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl; wide awake and longing to get up, but not daring to do so for fear of the unseen power in the next room - a certain Betty, whose slumbers must not be disturbed until six o'clock struck,
Apr 14, 2012 B0nnie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl…

Wives and Daughters reads like a fairytale and we are immediately enchanted by its gentle charm. Stepmother, prince, villain, woods, a ball, castle, climbing roses, birds and beasts. It's all there.

However, the stepmother is not evil -
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
A pleasant but rather leisurely and lengthy tale of the personalities that inhabit an English country town in about the 1830's. The novel centers around Molly Gibson, the quiet and somewhat passive, but deeply sensitive, daughter of a widowed country doctor.

We meet Molly and her father when she's an innocent 12 year old girl, about to spend the day visiting the estate of the local gentry, Lord and Lady Cumnor, so excited she can hardly sleep the night before. This visit won't turn out the way y
May 11, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Why has it taken me so long to finally read this wonderful novel? I bought the Penguin edition when I was in my 20s, read a page or two, put it down and didn't pick it up again. The book sat on my shelf for years. For all I know, it could be there still. However, after university I went right off Victorian literature and it's only been in the last twelve months or so that I've felt the desire to tackle it again. And now I've fallen in love with Elizabeth Gaskell's writing.

In brief, the novel is
May 19, 2016 Desislava rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
“People may flatter themselves just as much by thinking that their faults are always present to other people’s minds, as if they believe that the world is always contemplating their individual charms and virtues.”

Nothing will ever compare to reading a 700+ page book to turn the page to the last chapter only for there to be an editor’s note saying that the author died before finishing it. Even though the fate of the characters is already clearly marked out; it is a major disapointment not to b
helen the bookowl
May 02, 2016 helen the bookowl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars.
This book was really really good! I even think it was better than "North & South" by the same author, which seems to be a lot of people's favourite.
What I love the most about this story is the characters which are so distinct and different from each other, but all yet so lovable. I loved how Elizabeth Gaskell has created such a variety of characters that you can't help but love, even though some of them are definitely meant to be annoying and impertinent (a new word that I lear
Oct 22, 2008 Lori rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Austen fans
Shelves: 2008, fiction

This is, in every sense of the phrase, the never-ending story.

I had been wanting to see the BBC's film version of this book for years, but never got around to it. In a story too complicated to explain, I was not able to get the video, so decided I'd try to read the book instead.

The book is 60 chapters long. SIXTY. 650 pages. The first two slow chapters made me return the book to the library. But the story kept nagging at me, so a few months later, I tried again. The story definitely

I finished this 700 page book in less than four days, which of course means that by my rating system it's a five star, utterly compulsive read. But now having gulped the whole thing down I'm going back to re-read it at a more sedate, Victorian pace.

How could I not love a book that has lines like these:

“I won't say she was silly, but I think one of us was silly, and it wasn't me!”

“All sorts of thoughts cross one's mind—it depends upon whether one gives them harbour and encouragement”

Mar 20, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
Where I got the book: free on the Kindle. Although I think I should pick up an annotated edition one of these days.

It's not often I finish a book with a big smile on my face, despite the teasing ending (which had me seriously worried that my free Kindle version had something missing, but then I decided it was entirely consistent with the story). Update: Thanks to more informed friends, I now know that Mrs. Gaskell died before finishing the book, which is the biggest bummer I can possibly think o
Feb 17, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Molly Gibson is a kind-hearted, intelligent, sensitive girl who is thrown into society when her father, the equally sensible but far more sarcastic Mr.Gibson, marries. His new wife is flighty, hypocritical, and manipulative, but all in such a soft, pliant way that it is difficult to oppose her. With her comes her daughter Cynthia Fitzpatrick, who is Molly's own age but beautiful where Molly is pretty, and socially brilliant where Molly is genuine. Cynthia and Molly immediately become best friend ...more
Lubinka Dimitrova
I was just about to give it three stars, but in the end, I decided it does deserve more. Yes, I read more than 700 pages of sweet little nothings, but eventually the characters grew on me, and I could not help but admire Elizabeth Gaskell's ability to present even the most annoying personages as quite likable people. I suppose now I'll have to read North and South.
Sherwood Smith
Sep 03, 2014 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fiction

Great novels really are different books to different readers--and can vary for the same reader as well. But what really struck me when I reached that end was how this novel illustrates, like a nearly physical blow, the different between being told something and being shown. That is, when ‘show’ is done with Gaskell’s extraordinary skill. The reader hits that last chapter, and we’re told by the editor what will happen. We know how everyone ends up. But the effect is still a cold splash of
Feb 15, 2008 Cissy rated it it was amazing
This is my new favorite. Written by a lesser-known British author in the mid-1800s, this novel would be enjoyed by Austen and Dickens fans. It is very long--more than 600 pages in small print--but the characters are wonderfully detailed and the story very compelling. It is not a difficult read, but I do recommend getting a version that has notes explaining period references. I loved the sweetness of the main character, Molly Gibson, and all the different relationships between her and the other c ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Towards the end of last year I spent many happy hours visiting a world so perfectly realised that it still lifts my heart when I think of it. I stepped into the middle of the 1830s, into the English countryside that Mrs Gaskell knew so well, I met people who were so real, fallible, interesting, and I became caught up in their lives and their stories.

At the centre of it all was Molly Gibson, the only child of a widowed doctor. The apple of his eye.

In a lovely prologue she was twelve years old and
Feb 18, 2015 Candi rated it it was amazing
What a delightful story about one of the most angelic heroines I have ever encountered! Molly Gibson, daughter of a widowed country doctor, is pure, innocent, and trustworthy. When her father re-marries, Molly finds her tranquil, somewhat laid-back style of life with Mr. Gibson to be transformed by the addition of a more experienced and captivating stepsister, Cynthia, and a shallow, self-indulgent stepmother.

Molly forms a close bond with Cynthia and a respectful yet wary relationship with the
This novel achieves much and thoughts of it do not leave the mind quickly. Gaskell captures both the human experience and the beautiful settings of mid-19th-century English country life. You will be drawn into this world as she introduces the lives of the common folk of Hollingford and those who hold distinction either by title or by ancient stewardship of the land. Regardless of rank, Gaskell’s characters face essentially human situations.

Our heroine, young Molly Gibson, on the brink of adultho
Wives and Daughters is Elizabeth Gaskell at her finest. Written in the year preceding her death, the novel unfortunately never got finished. However, it is amazingly enjoyable, and makes one of the best love stories, as well as an excellent social commentary.

Little Molly Gibson, who lives with her widowed father, suddenly has the opportunity to see her world changing, when she is invited for a stay with the Hamleys, while her father is busy elsewhere getting married. In Molly, we have an endear
It's impossible to summarize the plot of this book. It's not quite a romance and it doesn't have the grand political statement of North and South but it does have some romance, some drama, some comedy and the backdrop of the idyllic English countryside. Sue Birdwhistle, the producer of the mini series sums up the story well : "[It's about] where love comes from, how it grows, how it can break our hearts, how it can bring happiness and fulfillment. It's about the mistakes we make and the secrets ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
As trite as it sounds, if you like Jane Austen, you'll love this Wives and Daughters! A terrific plot and fascinating characters. Gaskell really does a wonderful job of portraying life and love among the country folk in provincial England. There's a touch of mystery and villainy, and a good bit of humor too; and one can't but fall head-over-heels in love with little Molly Gibson, the novel's main protagonist. I strongly recommend this book, and Gaskell as an author.

She also wrote a biography of
Jun 27, 2014 Phrynne rated it really liked it
I only have one small criticism of this book which is that, in the usual manner of books written as a series, it went on a little too long. However the characters were delightful, the writing was excellent and the story kept me captured to the very end. It is a pity we do not have the last chapter in the writer's own words but I think we can all see what the ending was going to be. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys books from this period.
Magrat Ajostiernos
¡Me ha gustado muchísimo! Tanto como para convertirse en mi libro preferido de la Gaskell junto con 'Norte y Sur'.
Si conocéis los libros de la autora, diría que esta obra tiene lo mejor de 'Cranford' con lo mejor de 'Norte y Sur', todo junto. Y se nota muchísimo la madurez de la autora en su maravillosa manera de escribir.
En fin, otra novela que pasa a mi sección de predilectos :)
Oct 11, 2014 Katie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: girl-stuff, british, novel
I read this wonderful book voraciously, on trains and planes, by pools and mountains, while drinking tea and cocktails, and I did not know until the moment it ended that it does not have a last chapter. I am dead now.
È il terzo romanzo che leggo di Elizabeth Gaskell, e dopo la parziale delusione degli Innamorati di Sylvia (bello, eppure mancava qualcosa) questo è un ritorno a questa autrice col botto.

Si torna in campagna e si torna a storie più private: la scombinata famiglia che si va a creare dalle seconde nozze di due vedovi e il rapporto tra le due sorellastre adolescenti e diverse come il giorno e la notte. E similissime ai rispettivi genitori di sangue, aggiungerei. Abbiamo Molly che è quieta, dimessa,
Apr 09, 2012 Janet rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Jane-ites and Bronte fans
I had high hopes for this based on the reviews of others in addition to the fact that I'm a sucker for 19th c. British writers. Dickens - check. Austen - check. Charlotte, Anne & Emily - check. Eliot - check. Thackeray - check. Collins - a half check. Trollope - a triple check. James (you can argue he's an American) - a quadruple check. Okay, you get the idea.

While I like nothing better than the head games played in provincial drawing rooms they have to be executed by individuals of depth in
Carol Rodríguez
Y aquí tenemos la lectura del mes de septiembre del Club Pickwick, por la que yo misma voté y que venció por un voto a "Rojo y negro", de Stendhal.

"Hijas y esposas" es un libro de magnitud considerable, pero no se me ha hecho largo en ningún momento. Es curioso, porque tampoco es el colmo de la acción, pero sí me ha resultado muy ágil y entretenido. Es lo primero que leo de Gaskell y de verdad que me ha encantado su estilo irónico y con grandes dosis de crítica social (en concreto aquí se criti
I read Wives and Daughters, Gaskell's last, unfinished novel, for the first time in 2003 and liked it so much that I decided to read it again the next year. I liked it even more the second time. On the surface, it's a tale of English village life, harkening back to Gaskell's first novel, Cranford, but below the veneer of gentility and quiet humor, Gaskell offers up as powerful a critique of Victorian society as in her more overtly "social" novels, like Ruth or Mary Barton.

The heroine of Wives an
Jen Stowell
Mar 05, 2008 Jen Stowell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
WOW--if you don't already know, this is one of my very favorites (second only to pride and prejudice). If you are an Austen fan you will absolutely love Elizabeth Gaskell. She is a Bronte contemporary and has a very distince style. Like all English novels of this era, Wives can get wordy in spots and there are LONG descriptions. This never bothers me--I guess my imagination needs all the descriptive help it can get.

The story is about a young woman, Molly Gibson, who lost her mother when she was
Aug 17, 2007 Elise rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of Austen and the Brontes
I discovered this book in high school when my library gave away a ton of books. I took my brown paper bag full of books, and to my delight, discovered Ms. Gaskell.
The book focuses on one Molly Gibson, a sweet girl, who is almost too good to be true. As we all know, perfect girls don't attract beaus, and poor Molly first loses her father to a n overbearing stepmother, and then her crush to her conceited, flaky stepsister.
Fortunately, there are those who do recognize her merits, and her trials
Dec 10, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Lee
Wives and Daughters was written in the 1860s and serialised in the Cornhill Magazine. It is set in the 1820s and deals to a large extent with the position of women in Society. Elizabeth Gaskell left it unfinished, so any dramatiser of the novel is faced with guessing the intended outcome of the story.

Theresa Heskins previously adapted Lady Audley's Secret for the Woman's Hour serial, and has adapted Bleak House and Great Expectations for the New Vic Theatre, North Staffordshire, where she is Art
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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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“Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.” 1593 likes
“How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly.” 1167 likes
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