Claire Haeg's Reviews > Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
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's review
Aug 16, 2011

really liked it

One of the drawbacks of reading on a Kindle (and don't get me wrong, I love my Kindle!) is that you don't get to see the size of the book that you are buying. I never think to check the page length on Amazon before I buy. I think I bought this one before the Australia trip, just one among many. It took me several chapters to work out that this was a 600+ page book - it was originally published in several volumes. Worse, I didn't even realize that it was unfinished until the Kindle told me I was done. ("What? Where's the rest? Oh ... she never wrote it. Damn.") There are also several plot inconsistencies that were bothering me, but the fact that it is unfinished explains that.

People who have read a limited number of 19th Century novels mention Jane Austen as a comparison, but this is far too prim and sentimental, too Victorian, too lacking in humour, too tediously detailed. It doesn't seem at all like Austen's incisive wit. It's a Victorian novel. Not bad in its way.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Highjump (new)

Highjump But you still gave it four stars, so overall it was good?

Claire Haeg Yeah, but as I've grown old I've come to realize that I can tolerate a lot of issues with plot, characterization, and subject matter (including racism and sexism) as long as the author's prose style is readable. So this had all the issues of the mid-Victorian novel, including racism and sexism, but I forgave her because it was well-written. God help the ungrammatical bigot, however, as I will get really pissed off.

message 3: by Highjump (new)

Highjump Yeah, my favorite book is still GWTW, even though when I re-read it recently I was like "This is three times as racist as I remembered." But the characters are so well constructed and compelling!!!

Claire Haeg Oh, and I have a new line about it: "Mrs Gaskill died before she finished this book, as did many of her readers." Hah.

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