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

Ruth

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,284 Ratings  ·  387 Reviews
In Ruth Elizabeth Gaskell set out to portray, not 'the Condition of England' already famously addressed in Mary Barton, but the nature and sensibility of a fallen woman. Her orphaned heroine Ruth, apprenticed to a dressmaker, is seduced and then abandoned by wealthy young Henry Bellingham. Shamed in the eyes of society by her illegitimate son, and yet rejecting the opportu ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1853)
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 Ruth, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ruth

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Kristina A
Jan 04, 2008 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
booklady
Apparently Elizabeth Gaskell took a lot of flak for her heroines, some at least who were less than ideal ladies of their era. Mary Barton of Gaskell's first novel made some poor choices and Ruth here seems to have been a bit naive as well. What the author got in trouble for, faced social censorship* for, in her fiction seems tame by today's standards.

Reading other reviews here on Goodreads, more than a few didn’t like our little Ruth either but for different reasons. That puzzled me as I guess
...more
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was moved by the book. But I would recommend North and South if you are a newbie to Gaskell.

What to expect?
- Ruth portrayed as the extra angelic girl with no vices (made her seem less realistic)
-underlying commentary on whether good looks = good character
- view points about illegitimacy
- social period where the whole burden (sin) falls on the mother
- brisk pacing. But Vol. 2 was extremely dragging and very preachy.
- at times, the plot has abrupt jumps. Perhaps this is because I was expecting s
...more
Katie Lumsden
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gaskell as always is brilliant. I love her characterisation and dialogue and Ruth is a fascinating, interesting read, especially in terms of its discussion of morality, gender and sexuality in Victorian society.
MomToKippy
Sep 21, 2016 marked it as abandoned-or-try-again-later
Writing style was torture for me. Could not do it. So sorry!
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
Issicratea
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
Elaine
Mar 16, 2012 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
Beth Bonini
As one of the enduring Victorian novelists, Elizabeth Gaskell is known for several things: her Northern settings (primarily in Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire), her social activism, and her religious beliefs. All of these came together in a particularly affecting way in her masterpiece North and South. Ruth, although appealing in some ways, is a much lesser accomplishment as a novel - and I think its internal conflicts, not to mention its excessive religiousity - hinders the point that Gaske ...more
Kate Howe
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I need to process...
So so good though!
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
Lindsey
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
(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
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Laura
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mel
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Elena T.
Feb 29, 2016 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
Klela
La storia di questa povera donna scorre via veloce...e non resta proprio impressa nella memoria. Non si rimane nè sconvolti nè particolarmente colpiti. Però posso capire lo scandalo che suscitò all'epoca della pubblicazione; forse non tanto per i peccati giovanili di Ruth quanto per un esponente del clero che copre la "faccenda", cercando di fare del bene attraverso la menzogna.
Le continue citazioni della Bibbia con relative note sono un pò fastidiose e non mi ha coinvinto neanche la tendenza a
...more
Lucie
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely amazing. This is everything I wanted in a 19th century novel about a 'fallen woman'.
Ruth
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it liked it
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
Kathleen Flynn
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bronte-businesss
This book was apparently scandalous in its time for its willingness to entertain the idea that a fallen women could repent of her sin and become virtuous. Ruth indeed becomes almost tiresomely virtuous, a paragon in every respect of Victorian womanhood except for the inconvenient presence of an illegitimate son. But I cannot make fun of this book for conforming to the notions of its time. I admire how it wrestles with the notion of what being Christian really means, and what it asks of a person ...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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
1790- 1900 Litera...: Background reading 1 4 Oct 28, 2017 09:32AM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 4: Chapters 25-36 9 10 Sep 14, 2016 10:43PM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 1: Chapters 1-8 63 23 Sep 09, 2016 04:39PM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 3: Chapters 17-24 23 9 Sep 08, 2016 07:43PM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 2: Chapters 9-16 21 10 Sep 01, 2016 04:05PM  
Women's Classic L...: Reading Schedule 5 24 Aug 20, 2016 09:26AM  
Goodreads Librari...: incorrect page count 5 12 Feb 02, 2016 05:52AM  
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • East Lynne
  • Romola
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
  • Lady Anna
  • Desperate Remedies
  • The Absentee
  • No Name
  • Deerbrook
  • Cecilia
1413437
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
More about Elizabeth Gaskell...

Fiction Deals

  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Chasing the Sun
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Hidden
    $3.99 $2.00
  • Jubilee
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Where We Fall
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Over the Plain Houses
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Mustard Seed
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Count Belisarius
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Memory of Things
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.24 $1.99
  • To Hold the Crown: The Story of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York (Tudor Saga, #1)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • A House for Happy Mothers
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Lace Makers of Glenmara
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Quaker Café (Quaker Café #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Honest Spy
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Gone Crazy in Alabama (Ala Notable Children's Books. Middle Readers)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Mercer Girls
    $4.99 $1.99
  • While the World Is Still Asleep (The Century Trilogy Book 1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • 600 Hours of Edward
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Prayers for the Stolen
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Daughters of Palatine Hill
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Very Valentine
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Cellar
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Clouds (Glenbrooke, #5)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Ireland
    $10.49 $2.99
  • Funland
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The Comfort of Strangers
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Endless Night
    $4.49 $0.99
  • Lilac Bus
    $7.99 $1.99
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Unremembered Girl
    $4.99 $2.49
  • A Severed Wasp: A Novel
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Love in the Ruins
    $11.99 $1.99
  • We're All Damaged
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Clara and Mr. Tiffany
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Golden Age: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth
    $8.24 $1.99
“Similarity of opinion is not always—I think not often—needed for fullness and perfection of love.” 28 likes
“With a bound, the sun of a molten fiery red cam above the horizon, and immediately thousands of little birds sang out for joy, and a soft chorus of mysterious, glad murmurs came forth from the earth; the low whispering wind left its hiding-place among the clefts and hollows of the hills, and wandered among the rustling herbs and trees, waking the flower-buds to the life of another day.” 7 likes
More quotes…