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Ruth

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  4,725 Ratings  ·  333 Reviews
Elizabeth Gaskell's Ruth (1853) was the first mainstream novel to make a fallen woman its eponymous heroine. It is a remarkable story of love, of the sanctuary and tyranny of the family, and of the consequences of lies and deception, one that lays bare Victorian hypocrisy and sexual double-standards. Shocking to contemporary readers, its radical utopian vision of "a pure w ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 384 pages
Published June 15th 2011 by Oxford University Press (first published 1853)
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Kristina A
Jan 04, 2008 Kristina A rated it liked it  ·  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
...more
Sarah
Dec 03, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MomToKippy
Sep 21, 2016 MomToKippy marked it as abandoned-or-try-again-later  ·  review of another edition
Writing style was torture for me. Could not do it. So sorry!
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/
...more
Viv JM
Poor, poor Ruth.

In Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell takes on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality with regard to "fallen" women. Sixteen year old Ruth is an orphan and very trusting and naive when she is seduced by the charm of Mr Bellingham. The book tells of her mistreatment by society when he callously discards her afterwards. Mr Bellingham, of course, receives no such mistreatment! This is, at times, a very sad book but Ruth is also treated with great kindness by some, and she is such a graceful and d
...more
Elaine
Mar 16, 2012 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  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
Lindsey
Jan 03, 2010 Lindsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
(P)Ila
Voto: 3.5

Ruth, pubblicato nel 1853 qualche anno dopo lo strepitoso successo di Cranford, fu al contrario il romanzo dell'autrice che più destò scandalo nella società dell'epoca.
L'intento della Gaskell era soffermarsi su tematiche che non venivano trattate comunemente e nemmeno con semplicità; forse l'autrice non si aspettava le tante critiche ricevute ma bisogna ammettere che, ad oggi, la reazione della società vittoriana ci appare del tutto comprensibile.

Ruth, giovane orfana e apprendista sarta
...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 ap ...more
Issicratea
Jan 29, 2017 Issicratea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900

I like Elizabeth Gaskell more and more as I begin to engage with her novels beyond North and South. Sylvia's Lovers, which I read last year, I thought genuinely one of the great Victorian novels. Ruth is an earlier work (dating to 1853, Gaskell’s second novel after Mary Barton), and you can tell that she is less sure of her art.

What courage, however! Gaskell tackled head-on in this novel the compromising theme of the “fallen woman,” and she did so in the full knowledge that she would attract op
...more
Emma Flanagan
I’m never sure how to describe Elizabeth Gaskell or her books. She is like a cross between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, with her books fluctuating along a spectrum between the too. Some like Cranford and Wives and Daughters with their focus the lives of the middle and upper classes are more Austen. Others like Mary Barton with a focus on social issues are more Dickens. North and South, my favourite, sits somewhere in the middle with its love story and exploration of social issues.

Ruth is is
...more
Elena T.
Feb 29, 2016 Elena T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Povera Ruth, dopotutto.
Già di per sé non inizia bene, così sempliciotta, fragile e forse un po' naif, poi fallen woman dopo un'inspiegabile liason con uno degli uomini letterariamente meno seducenti di sempre, Henry Bellingham, in tutto e per tutto ragazzino viziato e bizzoso.
In un attimo.. è compromessa.

Un figlio, Leonard, amato ogni momento e al quale Ruth, un po' rinsavita dai torpori adolescenziali, spera di dare tutto ciò che lei non ha mai avuto. Un tema che, naturalmente, commuove e coinv
...more
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
Vanessa
Mar 29, 2012 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
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
Laura
Jan 27, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
CNF Ch 20 @ 46%.

The premise of the story is interesting, but due to the nature controversial subject for the time period that EG wrote this (Victorian era) she has made the MC Ruth so perfect/inoffensive that I find her very boring. I was drawn to this because of the social commentary and subject matter, but due to Victorian morals, EG must make "Ruth" the character, a dead bore.
Deanne
Feb 04, 2011 Deanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes Victorians
Really enjoyable on a subject which today doesn't seem such a big deal. Interesting how sypathetic Gaskell is and you feel that Ruth was a character she cared about.
Jordan
Mar 26, 2015 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3rd-year-scandal
4.5* Loved this book! Haven't read any of Gaskell's work before but I think she'll certainly be on the list for the future!
sabisteb
Aug 29, 2015 sabisteb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Ruth wurde 1853 als klassischer victorianischer Threedecker veröffentlicht. Damals, war die Geschichte ein Skandal. Heute ist sie, vielleicht gerade daher, immer noch aktuell und sehr modern.
Ruth wird mit ca. 15 Jahren zur Vollwaise. Sie scheint keine sonstige Verwandtschaft zu haben und wird von einem behördlichen Vormund in eine Lehrstelle als Schneiderin vermittelt, einer der wenigen Berufe damals, die eine ehrenvolle Frau ausüben konnte.
Sonntags geht die Chefin aus. Was ihre Lehrlinge machen
...more
Ruth
Dec 20, 2007 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
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
Haaze
Sep 14, 2016 Haaze rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gaskell fans; Victorian Literature Enthusiasts
7/10 Gaskell wrote this book in the wake of her first success 'Mary Barton'. I wonder if the expectations of the public somehow colored her approach to building the story line? The novel definitely made me appreciate Gaskell's writing and makes me look forward to additional works of hers. The first two-thirds of the novel was excellent. However, the last part had some major issues. I felt as if the plot was getting twisted in a way that made the novel less realistic. The events that occurred w ...more
Laurie
Oct 02, 2010 Laurie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Amle
Jan 23, 2016 Amle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's cold and in the middle of the night but a group of young, poor women are working on dresses that wealthy women are to wear at the upcoming dance. Ruth, who recently lost her parents had been placed in this work by her guardian, a man she didn't know and had only met once.
Despite her great reasons for grief, Ruth is beautiful and innocent inside and out and she revels, like all young girls do, at the beauty of the world.
She is chosen along with a few more to wait upon the ladies at the dance
...more
Badlydone
May 18, 2010 Badlydone rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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 27, 2011 Lucinda Elliot rated it liked it  ·  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
...more
Dana Loo
Oct 21, 2015 Dana Loo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classici
Prima di leggere Ruth avevo un po' fantasticato sulla figura di questa fallen woman. Mai però avrei immaginato la personalità angelica di una ragazzina moralmente ignorante, totalmente ignara del peccato di cui si era macchiata ma che, una volta preso coscienza della sua onta, cercherà in tutti i modi di espiare.E' chiaro che la Gaskell volesse colpire il lettore dell'epoca, creando una protagonista talmente innocente che potesse ispirare compassione e sopratutto facesse riflettere; che attraver ...more
Charis
Sep 25, 2011 Charis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Camille
Jan 15, 2010 Camille rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
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
Erin
Sep 07, 2008 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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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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“Similarity of opinion is not always—I think not often—needed for fullness and perfection of love.” 29 likes
“Ask , and it shall be given until you. That is no vain or untried promise, Ruth!” 7 likes
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