B0nnie's Reviews > Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
7355135
's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: 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 - just annoying and shallow. The prince is but a squire, the villain merely ungentlemanly. The woods is a friendly lesson in botany, the ball disappointing, the castle entailed, its timber rotting. Roses get tossed into the fire,
'It is Mr. Preston,' said she, in answer to Molly. 'I shall not dance with him; and here go his flowers—'
Into the very middle of the embers, which she immediately stirred down upon the beautiful shrivelling petals as if she wished to annihilate them as soon as possible.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell spins this long leisurely tale with such attention to detail, characters, and dialogue that you feel transported to another time and place. And bittersweet it is. Death, blackmail, secret promises, undisclosed marriages, politics, scandal, the worry of money are ever present.

Her 'wicked' characters are presented with enough sympathy that you enjoy them as much as the good ones. Take Hyacinth Gibson for example - she corresponds somewhat to Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Austen totally denied all sympathy to tedious Mrs. Bennet, but Gaskell makes sure we see Hyacinth as a person - selfish and shallow - but not uninteresting, and not incapable of sincere kindness.

And the good characters are flawed - sometimes you are not certain to which side they'll land. Or where you'll land, given the exasperating qualities some of them have. There is mystery too given to these people, hints dropped about things that are not revealed by the author.

I am completely in love with Wives and Daughters, so take my 5 stars you pretty little thing.
103 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Wives and Daughters.
Sign In »

Quotes B0nnie Liked

Elizabeth Gaskell
“I do try to say, God’s will be done, sir,” said the Squire, looking up at Mr. Gibson for the first time, and speaking with more life in his voice; “but it’s harder to be resigned than happy people think.”
Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters


Reading Progress

April 10, 2012 – Started Reading
April 10, 2012 – Shelved
April 14, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Q I really need to find the time to read this author!


message 2: by Laura Jean (new)

Laura Jean I have read North and South. Is this one enjoyable?


B0nnie Jenny, yes I think you'll like it. Laura, this is the third Gaskell I've read and they just get better and better. It's sort of a cross between Austen and Charlotte Bronte, very charming, but with some bite too.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

You had me at "in a country there was a shire." Excellent review.


B0nnie yes it's just another tale of middle-earth, but with less men ;-)


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

have no use for them anyway!


B0nnie me neither! here's an idea, "Wives and Daughters and Orcs"


message 8: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten Third Gaskell, good lord, I haven't read any. You've circled the track on me. Is this a good one to start with or would you suggest another? I do like Bronte(s). I took a survey class of Austen in college (eons ago) and have been suffering from Austenitis, but should be better in 10 years or so. I did meet this lovely young lady named Jane in that Austen class so I really should be more forgiving.


B0nnie If you like Austen, Bronte, and George Eliot, you'll like Gaskell. I really loved Wives and Daughters, so I guess this is the one I would suggest. But fair warning, I adore Austen...Jane is a lovely name.


message 10: by Mark (new)

Mark what a lovely review. I read this years ago but really should take another look. You're point re Gaskell making even her unsympathetic characters not clear cut 'bad'uns' is really interesting. I love Austen but there is no doubt she goes in for yah booh hiss type villains and twits, if you'll pardon my overly technical language


switterbug (Betsey) Very lovely review. I will keep this in mind when I am in that mode. I do love Geroge Eliot, too.


message 12: by Brian (new)

Brian Robbins Never tried Gaskell - maybe I will now. Loved the review.


B0nnie Mark wrote: "what a lovely review. I read this years ago but really should take another look. You're point re Gaskell making even her unsympathetic characters not clear cut 'bad'uns' is really interesting. I love Austen but there is no doubt she goes in for yah booh hiss type villains and twits, if you'll pardon my overly technical language "

Gaskell is a lot like Austen, but without the 'bite' (some more technical language). Now, you might like that bite, or you might like something a bit smoother sometimes. I adore them both.


B0nnie Brian wrote: "Never tried Gaskell - maybe I will now. Loved the review."

Yes, do. If you like 19th century and Victorian literature, you'll like her too...


B0nnie switterbug (Betsey) wrote: "Very lovely review. I will keep this in mind when I am in that mode. I do love Geroge Eliot, too."

Middlemarch is one of my favourite books, definitely in my top ten!


message 16: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara Marvelous review!


Christy Lau This is such a lovely review, thank you for the beautiful extended metaphor!


Catherine Bishop Wonderful review! I'm re-reading Wives and Daughters for, I don't know, maybe the fifth time? Gaskell's characters come alive on the page and you become involved in their story. I'm only sorry that that it has no official ending, for Gaskell died before writing the last chapter.


back to top