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Archived Group Reads 2012 > Wives and Daughters Chapter 1 The Dawn of A Gala Day~ Chapter 8 Drifting Into Danger

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) For discussion of these chapters


message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca I am just stating this but I love Molly already.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

just started the book. So far so good. My mom told me that the Masterpiece theater show was really good. I did not watch it.


message 4: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lnpayton) | 5 comments Jamie wrote: "just started the book. So far so good. My mom told me that the Masterpiece theater show was really good. I did not watch it."

It is really good!! I loved it! :) Enjoy the book!


message 5: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lnpayton) | 5 comments Jamie wrote: "just started the book. So far so good. My mom told me that the Masterpiece theater show was really good. I did not watch it."

It is really good!! I loved it! :) Enjoy the book!


message 6: by Rebecca (last edited Mar 02, 2012 01:02PM) (new)

Rebecca I am always struck by how much doctors were trusted back then. Mr. Hall even with being deaf and blind, "and the doctor who could heal all their ailments". Compared to now where so may do not and don't trust the healthcare system in general. I am wondering when that changed. I think I remember the same feeling in the movie Cranford about a new physician.


message 7: by Parikhit (new)

Parikhit | 22 comments I finished a couple of chapters. Molly is a sweetheart and I found the father daughter relationship overwhelming. Lady Cumnor I dislike-haughty and pompous that she is. Betty, the housekeeper, may be rough in her mannerisms but I got a hint of protectiveness towards Molly.


message 8: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Mar 03, 2012 06:20AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I (although I have read this book before) have just started. Funny how you remember some things but not others. Molly is a very sweet, kind child who reveres her father and he dotes on her. Funny how the Victorian writers either establish a type of "over the top" parent relationship or one in which there is much antagonism and strife.

Yes, there was an inherent trust of doctors back then and I think that has only change fairly recently with the advent of malpractice, health insurance and all its implications, the media, and the fact that we have pretty much lost our sense of trust of anyone.


message 9: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 2 comments I just started this book that i've owned for almost two years but never started it. What a sham is was. I really just love it. I'm just up to chapter 4 but wat a great book. Molly is indeed a vere sweet child.
I'm so excited to read the rest of this story and hear all of your opinions about it!


message 10: by Parikhit (new)

Parikhit | 22 comments I am somewhere in the middle of chapter 8. I find Mrs. Hamley a very amiable and sweet woman. Mr. Hamley too irrespective of his pride is a grand man. I was living the time Molly is spending with the Hamleys. I have a feeling of blooming love in the corner.
And I can't help loving Elizabeth Gaskell's narration. Albeit long winded it just transports me to an era of pleasure walks and carriages. No wonder I love classics so!


message 11: by Rebecca (last edited Mar 03, 2012 10:21AM) (new)

Rebecca My book has been on the shelf for 6 years. When I had been told about it the person said because I enjoyed Jane Austen so much I would enjoy Gaskell. Are they indeed similar the work? Style? Time period they both wrote in?


As an aside are others reading Tess too? I hope to once I have read the first section. I am on Chapter 5 of W &D.


message 12: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Jane Austen wrote prior to the Victorian period, so there is about 50 years between the writing of her works and this novel.

I think they are quite different in style, but some people might group them as intelligent, talented women authors of the 19th century. I think Austen has subtleties and tone that Gaskell does not have. And Gaskell's works themselves vary from each other too.

If you enjoy 19th century English writing, you should certainly give it a try though, even if, in my view, it isn't really a continuation of Austen.


message 13: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I am participating in the Tess discussion, which has started now. A large group of our members voted it in, so hopefully there will be good participation. Please join in!


message 14: by Bea (new)

Bea | 233 comments I am enjoying this novel, having just finished Chapter 8. I'm listening to the audiobook narrated by Prunella Scales, which is excellent.

I think the book is just hitting its stride and I'm looking forward to future developments. Once again I am surprised at the number of Victorian ladies, like Mrs. Hamlin, that take to their beds and become professional invalids. I like Mrs. Hamlin but think her life could have been so much richer if she had other options. Being a lady, she had no real work at home and her husband didn't enjoy the social life in London. I'm glad I'm living in the 21st century.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I so loved the calf love chapter! How lovely and kindly Mr Gibson treated his apprentice when caught being ever so interested in Molly. He really could have laid into the boy, but chose instead to remember his own youth and love for a girl named Jennie. (not his wife btw) Dr Gibson seems to be struggling with trying to raise his teenage daughter. Can anyone see that he will be possibly looking for a mother figure for Molly? Perhaps Molly's going to the Hamleys will do the trick, yet, somehow with their two sons and lovely Molly there might he trouble of the heart approaching. Does Dr Gibson think that Mrs Hamley will mother Molly?

I do feel bad that Mrs Hamley is sickly. You are right, Bea, many of the females we have met in our readings seem to take on that sickly aura.


message 16: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 497 comments I've loved this book. I find Molly one of the nices characters in victorian literature - but still "likely", not like some Dicken's females figure for istance. I liked her relationship with her father much, and I couldn't undrestand in fact his remarring again ...


message 17: by Parikhit (last edited Mar 05, 2012 07:37AM) (new)

Parikhit | 22 comments LauraT wrote: "I've loved this book. I find Molly one of the nices characters in victorian literature - but still "likely", not like some Dicken's females figure for istance. I liked her relationship with her fat..."

He remarried!!! Yet to reach that part. I was halfway through chapter 8 and found something sinister lurking. As far as I can guess may be Mr. Gibson feared having his daughter live amidst his students. There was the love letter incident penned by Mr. Coxe. Having a mother in house, he assumed, would enable Molly to connect with a woman. Just an assumption. Let me read.


message 18: by Janie (new)

Janie (justjanie) | 57 comments Bea wrote: "I am enjoying this novel, having just finished Chapter 8. I'm listening to the audiobook narrated by Prunella Scales, which is excellent.

I think the book is just hitting its stride and I'm loo..."


I'm listening to this audio version as well. I love audio books, especially for classics!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I am up to chapter 7, and see that Dr Gibson does seem to love and cherish Molly. What surprises me is that he, eventhough has some education, does not value such for his daughter.

Do you think he fears her being educated? Is it a way to keep her his little daughter and not a girl growing into womanhood? Does his need to shelter her seem too much? Is he not really doing her any favors by keeping things important in life from her?


message 20: by Denise (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 401 comments Marialyce wrote: "I am up to chapter 7, and see that Dr Gibson does seem to love and cherish Molly. What surprises me is that he, eventhough has some education, does not value such for his daughter.

Do you think he fears her being educated? Is it a way to keep her his little daughter and not a girl growing into womanhood? Does his need to shelter her seem too much? Is he not really doing her any favors by keeping things important in life from her?"


From things I have read in the introductions and comments on Gaskell's work, I think that this was the prevalent attitude at that time. Girls were not generally educated. However, within Gaskell's own circle, and her religion, education was seen as desirable for girls. She understood that she was lucky to have this advantage over many other women of her time, and is making a social commentary on this. Some of Gaskell's works are similar to Dickens, in their attempt to draw attention to issues and inequalities prevalent in those times. This novel is not so obviously of that genre, but some of it slips in here and there.


message 21: by Parikhit (new)

Parikhit | 22 comments Marialyce wrote: "I am up to chapter 7, and see that Dr Gibson does seem to love and cherish Molly. What surprises me is that he, eventhough has some education, does not value such for his daughter.

Do you think h..."


As Denice mentioned, those days education for women was not a serious consideration. They were expected to stitch and sew and impart manners to their children; in essence excel as a home maker. We get a hint of that when Mrs. Clare ruminates how merry it would be to have a husband who would have toiled while she would keep the house pretty.


message 22: by Rebecca (last edited Mar 05, 2012 11:54PM) (new)

Rebecca Denise I was thinking of your comment in Chapter 8 with the discussion of the treatmnt of Osboure and Roger. Osbourne getting all the perks because he is the heir as well as Lady Hamlets favoritism to him because he is more like her in appearance and manner.

I wonder if Molly's disdain for Roger is going to backfire? Osbourne seems so compatible with the library encounter. I can't help but think that she will gravitate to someone else.


message 23: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 497 comments Denise wrote: From things I have read in the introductions and comments on Gaskell's work, I think that this was the prevalent attitude at that time. Girls were not generally educated

I guess you're right: women in general had to be nice and complacent, be admired singing and playing, but not more than that ...


message 24: by Parikhit (new)

Parikhit | 22 comments Rebecca wrote: "Denise I was thinking of your comment in Chapter 8 with the discussion of the treatmnt of Osboure and Roger. Osbourne getting all the perks because he is the heir as well as Lady Hamlets favoritism..."

I have this feeling too.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Well I have to say that I like Molly very much. I hope she does not change to much in the book.


message 26: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments Marialyce wrote: "I so loved the calf love chapter! How lovely and kindly Mr Gibson treated his apprentice when caught being ever so interested in Molly. He really could have laid into the boy, but chose instead to ..."

I half agree, but is he being serious when he says that Mr Coxe has just lost the servant girl her place? I wasn't sure if if meant it or not, but if he does then that must be very unpleasant for Mr Coxe to have on his conscience. I have just finished chapter 6 and so far I like Gaskell's description of Mr Gibson. He is likable but definitely not perfect. I too thought that he tries to keep Molly childlike and from growing up by denying her an education


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Nina wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "I so loved the calf love chapter! How lovely and kindly Mr Gibson treated his apprentice when caught being ever so interested in Molly. He really could have laid into the boy, but..."

I agree, Nina. It does seem a bit harsh to let the servant girl go, although he did say he would find her another suitable position. I thought he should have gotten rid of Mr Coxe, although he was the son of a friend of Gibsons. It did bother me that here again the woman is made to suffer for an indiscretion, and while Coxe did get a reprimand, which was sort of off handed, the servant girl lost her job. Another example of the male dominated Victorian society I believe.


message 28: by Parikhit (new)

Parikhit | 22 comments Marialyce wrote: "Nina wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "I so loved the calf love chapter! How lovely and kindly Mr Gibson treated his apprentice when caught being ever so interested in Molly. He really could have laid into..."

Indeed. The poor girl had to suffer for no fault of hers.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) As I was finishing up this section, I could not help but recognize how so many of the parents sent their children away, from the rich to the not so rich, they all seemed to find distance a better teacher than they.

Even with Claire, she has not what seems to be a close relationship to her daughter, Cynthia. Does this little bit we read in Chapter 8, seem to foreshadow a tenuous mother/daughter relationship, one that could ultimately effect Molly?

Lady Cunmor also takes to her bed quite readily but I feel hers is more exhaustion from the good life whereas Mrs. Hamley's is a bona fide illness.

Roger has initially come off as a pompous unlikeable young man, while poor Osbourne has somehow managed to do poorly in school which Roger seems to gloat over. We do perceive a bit of sibling rivalry, but that is to he expected one thinks because poor Roger is the second son in every sense of the word.


message 30: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments Marialyce wrote: "Roger has initially come off as a pompous unlikeable young man, while poor Osbourne has somehow managed to do poorly in school which Roger seems to gloat over. We do perceive a bit of sibling rivalry, but that is to he expected one thinks because poor Roger is the second son in every sense of the word."

I feel a bit sorry for Roger. Osborne is clearly his parents' favourite son, they expect the greatest things from him, he is the most handsome and in Ch. 8 we are told that his every wish is followed - should a tree be cut down or not? Osborne has the final word. I can't wait to meet Osborne and see if the favouritism has gone to his head and he has become a spoilt brat.

As for Roger's gloating - was he in fact gloating or was that just how Molly saw it? I liked the bit in Ch. 8 where Gaskell describes Roger's thoughts and why he would like to keep the conversation going around the dinner table and Molly in turn finds him insensitive and unfeeling. They are off to a bad start:)


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Nina wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "Roger has initially come off as a pompous unlikeable young man, while poor Osbourne has somehow managed to do poorly in school which Roger seems to gloat over. We do perceive a bi..."

They are, aren't they? Well, it is probably for the best as the Hamley's, or at least Mr Hamley does not think Molly a suitable mate for either of his sons. With all that adulation of the Hamleys for Osbourne, how could he not fail, I think? Too much is being asked for perhaps and put on his shoulders. Roger does seem to be the son of Mr Hamley's heart and nature though as they seem to share a love for the outdoors and a pride for their land.


message 32: by Parikhit (new)

Parikhit | 22 comments Marialyce wrote: "Nina wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "Roger has initially come off as a pompous unlikeable young man, while poor Osbourne has somehow managed to do poorly in school which Roger seems to gloat over. We do ..."

Even though Molly and Roger had a bad start I have this strange intuition that their fates will collide at some point. Eager to unearth!

Roger has to live with the fact that he will always remain the second best and it is rather saddening that the Hamleys rub it on poor Roger's face!


message 33: by V.R. (last edited Mar 08, 2012 08:42AM) (new)

V.R. Christensen (vrchristensen) Rebecca said: "I am always struck by how much doctors were trusted back then. Mr. Hall even with being deaf and blind, "and the doctor who could heal all their ailments". Compared to now where so may do not and don't trust the healthcare system in general.

The irony is, doctors back then did far more harm than they do today. They were only just learning about the benefits of washing hands. Women's lives were imperilled every time they gave birth (hence so many motherless children?) Then consider blood-lettings and blisterings and all manner of medical quackery (or what we consider so today.)

Gaskel and Dickens were indeed friends, and I believe she published her work in his publication, Household Words. Not this one, though. She has a lighter hand when it comes to dealing with social issues. Dickens is, at times, difficult to take seriously as his characters are often so caricatured. Not so with Gaskell. Her characters are absolutely real. Molly's relationship with her father is a very gentle and affectionate one.

Mr. Gibson's remarrying is really more selfish than anything. He convinces himself it will be best for Molly,and I think he really believed it. The incident with Mr. Cox certainly flamed that, and he does in fact see that she needs a mother. But I think, more than anything, he fell into the wiles of Claire.

As far as education is concerned, the sciences were not for women. Women's education was important, but it was of a far different kind.

Roger is sort of an enigma at first. I saw the movie before I read the book, so while I want to say it was just Molly's idea of him, I don't know what my impression would have been had I read the book first. I think he is purposefully confusing. I don't think I've seen another character like him written, really. We assume he's gloating because that's what any other brother would have done. He is overlooked and he has a right to be resentful of it. If he isn't, why isn't he?

I like the confusion in Osborne's character, too. Is he good or bad? Makes for interesting characterisation, I think.


message 34: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments V.r. wrote: "We assume he's gloating because that's what any other brother would have done. He is overlooked and he has a right to be resentful of it. If he isn't, why isn't he?"

Maybe he is not the competitive sort and is fine with all the expectations being loaded on Osborne's shoulders? Or maybe he is too caught up in his studies of the natural world to care much about what goes on in the family? I agree that he is an enigma so far, but I think I will like him.


message 35: by Christyb (new)

Christyb | 44 comments I have just finished this section, and so far, I really like this book. The discussion has added so much to my reading. I am behind in the reading and discussion, and your thoughts have helped me in my reading. I really like Molly, but I feel as if her father is trying too hard to hold her back. She is close to the marrying age, but yet her father is holding he back from the innocent flirtations of Mr. Cooxe, and she is sent away to the Hamleys. I am looking forward to what happens between Molly and Roger.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Christy, take your time and enjoy this book. Mr. Gibson does treat Molly as if she were still a child, but she does seem to be very childlike don't you think? She is certainly so far removed from any seventeen year old of today!


message 37: by Lynnm (last edited Mar 11, 2012 04:00PM) (new)

Lynnm Just finished the last chapter for this thread, and like everyone else, love the book. I did see the mini-series, but won't include spoilers here. As always, I enjoy the book more, but I did like the mini-series a lot, and can't help but picture the actors when I'm reading their characters lines.

A few thoughts:

1) Yes, women weren't seriously educated at that time, unless their religion dictated that they were educated; women were expected to be responsible for their souls, and couldn't do that if they were uneducated. Molly is taught to do the usual house chores along with a little reading. And she reads novels, which were considered harmless, female activities.

2) I found the different regard for Osbourne and Roger by their parents as related to their intelligence to be interesting. Obviously, Osbourne is favored because he is the heir, but at the same time, today children who are more science oriented are considered to be the "smart" ones, and children who like to read and write poetry, while intelligent, are seen as somehow having lesser talents. In the book, it is the opposite.

3) Molly does seem very sheltered and naive. And she's quite passive when it comes to her father. But I still very much like her.

4) Not liking Mr. Gibson. Too cold. Too sarcastic. On the other side, Mr. Hamley is too emotional and angry.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I agree Lynnm about Gibson. He does keep himself distant and the fact that he calls Molly "goosey" at times does seem to if not demean her, make her seem light headed as if her ideas contain little merit. I was not sure if he does this because she is his little girl or if he tends to be condescending to all women. He is a tough character to figure out IMHO, as he seems to vacillate between being a loving father (pretty much in words not deeds) to critical parent.

Molly is definitely the one who shows affection in all her dealings with her father. Come to think of it, there is not much hugging or showing signs of affection from Gibson at all. It all seems to be one sided coming from Molly.


message 39: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Marialyce, I really see that when we read about her observation between Roger and Cynthia. One sided on Molly's side. I guess I didn't really see that she has any attraction or feeling toward Roger. But when Roger meets Cynthia we see a different reaction? I guess I felt kind of lost in seeing it happen. Not sure if there it is indeed romantic or brotherly?


message 40: by Janie (new)

Janie (justjanie) | 57 comments I just finished chapter 6. I may try to finish 7 (maybe even 8) before I go to sleep tonight.

I'm reading comments about Molly and Roger. I thought that may happen while I was reading about the Hamleys.

So far I'm enjoying Gaskell's writing style. Classics have topped my want-to-read list lately and they're getting easier. Reading work from another era is like exercising for me. I have to get used to it! Now that I've read a couple of classics, I'm in a rhythm and I'm hungry for more. I only knew about Gaskell because of her Charlotte Bronte biography. Now I'm wondering what I've missed! This book is wonderful so far. I hope to catch up soon.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Janie, glad you are discovering and liking Gaskell. I know I have liked everything I have read by her as well. She created many wonderful characters. Catch up whenever you can...


message 42: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments Just popped into this one after devouring Tess a bit faster than I thought I would. I really do love Gaskell. I love her kind of rambling prose, it makes it very easy to become lost in the story telling, rather than upset that the book isn't getting anywhere- not a lot of authors can do that.

Molly seems like such a sweetheart. Her father definitely kept her overly-sheltered. I think she would be behind most 17 year olds of even her time. She rarely left the house, rarely had contact with others of the same social class, and her father kept her purposely uneducated, even when there was a local women's school. He seems so shocked that suddenly she is 17 and blossoming. Such an age was certainly not a child, even back then, she should be going for the season to London, etc. So I think Gaskell is trying to paint her as the very best of a provincial girl who has never been taught to be too serious about anything.

As for Roger and Osmund, I just don't think that Roger is appreciated for his appropriate strengths. His father said if Cambridge had any studies in Naturalism Roger would turn out all right. His strengths may not be writing, but seem much more scientific.

Onward to chapter 7 :D


message 43: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments Also, I cannot imagine going off to a stranger's to live for a fortnight. I'm not an overly social person, and suhc an idea just gives me chills.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I agree, Becky, so many girls were being courted to be married at that age. At some points I think it is mean to keep a person so sheltered. They are then often so unprepared for the real world.


message 45: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm Becky wrote: "Also, I cannot imagine going off to a stranger's to live for a fortnight. I'm not an overly social person, and suhc an idea just gives me chills."

I agree, especially since there were no younger people around her age until Roger arrives. But she seems fairly used to doing whatever her father tells her to do without complaint.


message 46: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) I'm enjoying this book even more than I'd anticipated -- right from the start I liked Molly, especially when she took off and started exploring the gardens on her own (I would have done the same thing).

I think Gibson's character is just withdrawn, using his humor and casualness to bridge a feeling of social self-consciousness perhaps. It is obvious he adores Molly, but he is still a member of the male-entitlement club, and will do what suits himself best above all.

Molly, on the other hand, does not seem to be baffled by her father, knows and understands his ways, and loves him unequivocably -- at least that's my impression so far.

I ran across a very interesting reference to this book in Maria Tatar's The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales the Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. While discussing the fairy tale paradigm in the introduction, A.S. Byatt says, "Elizabeth Gaskell reunited the fairy-tale characters in a fantasy French chateau, in a tale of her own, and also played realist narrative games with stepmother and daughters in Wives and Daughters."


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Janice George wrote: "I'm enjoying this book even more than I'd anticipated -- right from the start I liked Molly, especially when she took off and started exploring the gardens on her own (I would have done the same th..."

It is really good. Have you read Gaskell before?


message 48: by Denise (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 401 comments Janice, I agree with everything you said about Mr. Gibson and Molly.


message 49: by Janice (JG) (last edited Mar 21, 2012 05:42PM) (new)

Janice (JG) Marialyce wrote: "It is really good. Have you read Gaskell before?..."


No, I haven't, and I notice that whenever I mention to anyone that I'm reading this book, I hear comments like 'I'm so glad I discovered Gaskell' as well as asking me if I've read her before. Just the other day I was thinking that it would be very nice to find another author who fulfills the classic mold ... perhaps Gaskell is it :)

Daphne duMaurier came to mind when I was thinking of my personal definition of "classic" mold... I know she is not of the era, but I found her very satisfying as a multi-volumed novelist of this classic genre.


message 50: by Sera (new)

Sera I recently finished Tess, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I am finding the same with this book, my first Gaskell.

How can one not love Molly? What a sweetheart. I think that her father is overly protective of her because he doesn't know what else to do (he frequently comments on his concern over a lack of a mother figure for Molly) and because she is really all that he has left, having lost his wife. I think his uncertainty as a parent is what leads him to act oddly around his daughter at times.

I didn't like how Gibson handled the Coxe matter either, but I chalked it up to the fact that the boy was the son of a friend, which led to the need to punish someone, and unfortunately, the servant girl was the recipient of it.


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