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Book reviews for "Gaskell,_Elizabeth_Cleghorn" sorted by average review score:

Dissembling Fictions: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Victorian Social Text
Published in Hardcover by Palgrave Macmillan (September, 1997)
Author: Deirdre D'Albertis
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The critical work to read on Gaskell
This is an excellent, finely tuned study of Gaskell. It investigates Gaskell as an artist caught up in ambivalent, conflicting goals. When so much work on Gaskell flattens her into an unbridled politico, this book traces the complex relationship between her social intentions and her artistic ones. And it reads all the novels but _Cranford_, including the neglected _Sylvia's Lovers_.

why we love dierdre d'albertis
There aren't enough books about Elizabeth Gaskell. D'Albertis has stunningly filled what heretofore had been a Gaskell void. Yea, Dierdre! This sort of scholarship is rarely seen amongst Victorian scholars, particulalrly female ones. Fabulous!

A new voice for a new era in Gaskell studies
The burgeoning interest in Elizabeth Gaskell has at last produced an author with the cogent prose style and analytical brilliance to match the subject. Brava d'Albertis! It reminds me of the impact of reading Axel's Castle in 1931.

The Life of Charlotte Bronte
Published in Audio Cassette by Audio Book Contractors (January, 2001)
Authors: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell and Flo Gibson
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Such sad lives were led by the the Bronte's, loneliness, loss, despair, all were experienced and fed into the imaginations on charlotte, emily and anne. This book is a brilliant book by E C Gaskell (who i normally dont really like), it is basically a collection of letters by charlotte and a great narrative, when speaking of the deaths of emily, anne and charlotte, i actually felt tears in my eyes!

At the intersection of time and eternity
Mrs. Gaskell understood a man's or woman's life to be lived within a social and natural context -- and her deployment of anecdotes and impressions of the North of England in the early pages of this book is captivating. But she also understood us to be souls, present to but distinct from God. Hence, even though in a few instances Gaskell's facts may been correctible (which the editor has done for us in this Penguin Classics edition), she is concerned with truth, and this gives readers the opportunity (rarely offered by modern entertainments) to escape from the trivial.

A Beautiful Biography!
A very nicely written biography by Mrs. Gaskell about the life of her friend Charlotte Bronte, although most of the content was made up of letters written either by or to Charlotte Bronte rather than Mrs. Gaskell's own writings. Still this is a very concise book containing mostly everything that an ordinary reader, or well, a beginner of the Bronte novels, should know about this famous family. Nonetheless at some point of the book, I do find Mrs. Gaskell a bit too subjective, especially when it comes to the depiction of Charlotte's brother Branwell Bronte and his downfall. But consider the fact that this book was written only within one and a half year, with Mrs. Gaskell herself alone traveling all the way from Manchester to Haworth, and then to Brussel, doing all the necessary researches and interviews on her own, I must say that this is just an awesome piece of work!! And just as what Patrick Bronte himself had said about this biography, 'It is every way worthy of what one Great Woman, should have written of ought to stand, and will stand in the first rank, of Biographies, till the end of time'.

One more word though. From a more scholarly point of view, however, I think so far the 'best' biography on the Brontes should be Juliet Barker's 'The Brontes'. If, after reading this biography written by Mrs. Gaskell, you still want to know more about the Brontes, then I will say: go and buy this other book by Juliet Barker and you definitely will never regret it!

Wives and Daughters
Published in Paperback by (January, 2003)
Author: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
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Engrossing domestic comedy
In her last novel, Gaskell avoided her usual urban milieu to concentrate instead on the wonderful parochial doings of a country village in the mid-Victorian period. Although she left the novel without its very last chapter before she died, this should not dissuade you from reading the novel: you'll know by the end exactly where Gaskell was going to finish the book and what would've happened to all the characters.

WIVES AND DAUGHTERS is frequently compared to Austen, but it is very different; the comedy and social observation is marvelous, but there's a greater sense of despair here more akin to MIDDLEMARCH. Hyacinth is without question the single most complex and engrossing character Gaskell ever created, and despite her menadacity and her manipulativeness you can't help but feel fond of her in spite of her less attractive qualities. Her daughter Cynthia is nearly as fine a character, and the others are also topnotch. A delightful read.

A wonderful, captivating book.
I received this book for Christmas, along with two Jane Austen novels. I read Austen's novels first and I liked them. I have just finished Elizabeth Gaskell's, Wives and Daughters and I loved it! This book portrays the lives of Molly Gibson and her step-sister, Cynthia Kirkpatrick as they grow up in the town of Hollingford. I thouroughly enjoyed this marvelous book and I would recommend it to anyone, especially Jane Austen lovers, for I think they will enjoy Wives and Daughters more then any of Austen's books, as I have done.

A Barely Unfinished Masterpiece
It's interesting that another reviewer here recommends this novel on the strength of its Austen appeal. Me, I never cared for Jane Austen. But Gaskell's book is subtle and brilliant and amazing on so many levels that a little, Austen-like parody is only another flavor. Molly Gibson's moving through her life and the lives of those near to her is solid in every way that literature must be; yet it is in the stunningly realistic depictions of relations between the characters - her father, her stepmother, her stepsister, the Hamley brothers - that Mrs. Gaskell reveals her genius. She refuses to settle for easy reactions and expected responses. If at times her people suffer a bit from a Victorian eye's love of form, her brilliance will allow for no false note. As absolute evidence we see the evolution of Hyacinth Gibson's role in the family, the desperate wrongness of it, perfectly muted to the compromises life brings forth in all such situations. This single character, vain and selfish, inconsiderate but not monstrous, is as real a human being as I have ever encountered in literature of the 19th century, or this one. I conclude with saying that, having been introduced to this woman's work, George Eliot has had to share her place in my mind as the preeminent female author of that century.

Ruth (Oxford World's Classics)
Published in Paperback by Oxford University Press (August, 1998)
Authors: Alan Shelston and Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
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Good example of period literature, little else
Ruth is much like many books of it's time. It often seems overwritten and contrived, and it is full of cliches and melodrama. It fails to question many sterotypes. However, it is not without redeeming value. It does have some interesting if not groundbreaking social commentary. Unless you know really love literature from this period don't bother to read Ruth. The bottom line is that there is a reason it is not a considered a great classic of literature.

Quiet Brilliance
Elizabeth Gaskell is often referred to as the forgotten classic author and "Ruth" is a prime introduction into this obviously complex and passionate woman. "Ruth" is a truly brilliant novel dealing with the issue of a fallen woman due to an illicit affair and subsequent birth of a bastard child. This, due to the societal assumptions of morality and righteousness, lead the main character into a series of deceptions and tribulations in an attempt at redemption. Gaskell's eloquent prose engrosses the reader into the lives of the multiple characters and as it is in three volumes, much time is spent developing each individual. This allows for a true feeling and understanding of the motives and meanings behind every action. The character of Ruth is obviously the most important and Gaskell allows her to develop into an almost Christ-like figure in her beliefs, faith and actions. "Ruth" is a novel that tackles incredibly sensitive and deep subject matter and reaffirms ones belief in a higher power. This is a novel that should be introduced back into the mainstream to achieve the stature that it deserves as a classic of literature.

A Must Read (if you can find it...)
I just finished reading Ruth last night. I could never seem to find it anywhere before, but I did and I'm glad, having now read all of Mrs Gaskells novels. Before I started reading I had a look over the chapter titles and after reading the first few chapters I had an idea of what would happen. There is a chapter called 'Nursing Mr Bellingham' and I began to suspect the story would be simialr to that of 'Sylvia's Lovers'. Mr Bellingham would have some proper excuse (being sick maybe?), then Ruth would meet up with him again after years of seperation. He would die, and then she. Of course I was wrong. We've had single motherhood in the 19th century before, with Adam Bede and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but in neither of these cases did we see the children surviving. Although Ruth is hidden behind a widow's identity we know how people would disown her if her secret was revealed. And when it is we see the hypocrisy of those condemning her. And Mr Donne disappears without any of our sympathy.

Published in Hardcover by William A. Thomas Braille Bookstore (September, 1993)
Author: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
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"Charming" Cranford
I read this series of village sketches as an independent study and found that it is most commonly referred to as "charming." This so called charm is achieved through the humourous realism with which Gaskell depicts the citizens of the small, rural town of Cranford. The women presented are 'old maids' and though genteel, their economic status is far from certain. Perhaps the tender concern Gaskell shows for their welfare, and the friendship demonstrated for a friend in need is most pivotal in creating the charm of the novel. This book has the feel of a 'chick flick': no grand action necessarily, but little episodes of social excitement followed by periods of daily activity. The book provides both comic scenes and tear-jerkers and the method of storytelling could be likened to that of movies such as "Steel Magnolias" or "Fried Green Tomatoes".

very entertaining
Orginally published in Charles Dickens' magazine Household Words, _Cranford_is in fact a collection of stories about the people (mostly women)'s lives in a city called Cranford in the 19th century. It is said to be Mrs. Gaskell's most popular book, and the only book that Mrs. Gaskell herself would want to re-read again. This book is indeed full of funny, ridiculous and heartwarming stories about some old-fashioned but really friendly and kind-hearted women (mostly old maids or widows) living in this little town called Cranford. I think Mrs. Gaskell did a good job in bring up themes like the confrontation of the old and new world, the comparsion between the life in an industrial city like Drumble (believed to be based on Manchester) and the little tranquil town Cranford. If you are interested in Victorian Literature, this is one of the few relaxing novels belonging to that period that is definitely worth a reading!

Almost unbearable poignant!
To you scoffers who find this novel uneventful - I say read it again toward the close of your life. The stories of these genteel ladies with their 40 year old lost loves and their strong familial relationships is very moving. I also like the way the book is contructed in a series of vignettes. But most of all I am enchanted with the "feel" of the portrait of village life in the middle of the 19th century - such a contrast with the mores of today it's hard to believe we are the same species! If you like Mrs. Gaskell, be sure to read Barbara Pym for the 20th century version.

Mary Barton (Broadview Literary Texts)
Published in Paperback by Broadview Press (21 March, 2000)
Authors: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, Jennifer Foster, and Mary Gaskell
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A romantic view about Manchester life in the 19th century!
Mary Barton is the first novel of Elizabeth Gaskell, a female writer who left her influence upon other English writers of the 19th century, like, for instance, Charles Dickens. The book is only an average view about Manchester life in the 19th century, focusing its attentions over the extreme poverty of the working class, the first labor conflicts in the pre-dawn of the Industrial Revolution, all this connected with a tender love story between the young Mary Barton and his old time friend Jem Wilson.
In fact, the murder of the young mill owner, Mr. Henry Carson - he too an admirer of Miss Barton - is not well developed and is not the central point of the novel because the reader knows all the time who is the real murderer. So, it's not a surprise at all the ending of the trial and the revelation of the real murderer in the last chapters.
Miss Gaskell has a simple and an almost näive vision of the social problems that harassed the working class in England when the Industrial Revolution started. Even though, we must recognize that she made a good work trying to denounce the insensibility of the English government about the problems of the workers and their families and the inflexibility of the mill owners and other high economic classes to negociate with their subordinates.
Mary Barton is a book that will hold the attencion of the readers, men or women, because Miss Gaskell has an elegant style and really knows how to tell a good story. Another great vintage of this novel are some great characters portrayed with flavour and undeniable charm, like the old and friendly Mr. Job Legh and the hard and anger John Barton, Mary's father.

Compelling description of industrial revolution era want.
Gaskell wrote one of the most vivid descriptions of the gap between rich and poor in this novel of the Manchester 'hungry forties'. The plot is driven by the device of a murder of young factory owner's son, but this story line is more an excuse to present the story as a novel (and to serve the demands and expectations of the novel form as it was understood at the time) than it really is the center of the book. The romance and the mystery (although still well-written) are cursory in comparison to the loving detail that Gaskell lavishes on Alice Wilson, the temptation of Esther and all the little points of life in deep poverty.

Worth reading, particularly if you're a fan of the novel (or history) of the period.

A Truthful Depiction of the 19th Century Working Class Life
Actually I read this book in three days' time (it can be even faster if I don't have to go to school). Anyway, Mrs. Gaskell's depiction of the working class people in Manchester during the 19th century was so vivid that you can just *see* and *feel* how the rich and the poor's lives were like back then by turning the pages. I believe no one who had read this book will not to some extent feel pity for the tragic hero, John Barton, in the story. But aside from this formal social theme being presented in the novel, there is also a very strong sense of religious/moral theme in it (espeically near the end of the story), as well as some drama and romance in it. Definitely worth a read, especially to those who are interested in Victorian Literature.

North and South
Published in Audio Cassette by Audio Book Contractors (January, 2001)
Authors: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell and Flo Gibson
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Barton's North and South is a Horror among Horrors
In summarizing my opinion of this book, I can only think of one word: revulsion. Perhaps I should qualify -- absolute revulsion would be the better description. Elizabeth Barton's "North and South" is the most boring, trifling, heinously insignificant, hyperfeminized novels I have yet to read. While the novel does touch on some important themes -- class warfare, the condition of women, and don't forgot, the godlessness of the heathen lower classes -- no true insight is gained that cannot be found in a middle school history textbook.

The back cover describes North and South's heroine, Margaret Hale, as one of the "finest heroines of Victorian literature." Lies, I say. Lies. While Margaret does possess some independence of spirit, her self-sacrificing Christian character nevertheless humbles herself in love before a "benign" capitalist individualist, Mr. Thornton. Though people have spoken of North and South being a feminist novel, one need only read the first page of Bronte's earlier work, Jane Eyre, to find the former description flat.

Barton's characters are hopelessly vacuous, her storylines inane and inspid, her understanding of the world hopelessly shortsighted. One thinks of Virginia Woolf, who once said that the greatest female writers needed only a room of their own to perfect their writing. Elizabeth Barton, however, needed far, far more.

Not Too Bad...
Just a quick review! The novel itself wasn't too bad, and Gaskell writes it really well. The characters are convincing, and she puts across the issues of the time really well. Unlike most other books written around the same time, North and South was a much easier read, and more enjoyable. The only thing that wasn't so good was the ending. It was so frustrating! I finished the book and was left wanting to know what happens, or at least a little bit more than what I was left with! Apart from the disappointing ending, North and South was a pretty good read. It was definitely one of the better books that the english department have given us to read over the holidays! :)

One of the greatest and most underrated Victorian novels
I fell in love with this marvellous novel and it's main protagonists, Margaret Hale & John Thornton, when I first read it some five years ago. I remember when I was reading the chapters describing the riot at Thornton's mill while on the way home from work on the train, I was so caught up with the story that I nearly missed my stop.

One of the things that particularly impresses me about "North and South" is that Elizabeth Gaskell actually concentrates as much, if not more, on the principal male character's (John Thornton's) sexual and romantic desires and inner life rather than on the main female character (Margaret Hale). This is somewhat unusual to find in a book by female writer of the Victorian era. I feel that it makes the character of John Thornton one of the most interesting and attractive in 19th century literature.

His passionate love and desire for Margaret border on the obsessive at times. However, Elizabeth Gaskell details his torturous struggles with his emotions in such a empathethic way that you feel immensely drawn to Thornton from the first time you meet him. The scenes where Margaret rebuffs his attempts at a marriage proposal and the aftermath where he dazedly goes off into the countryside to calm down are vividly written.

I thoroughly disagree with some of the other reviewer's comments below, especially the person on 17 March 2003 who cannot even get the author's name right. It makes you wonder if they have read the same book as I did. I have no respect for people who impose inappropriate and modern notions on a work from this era and give their opinions, with such a sneering tone, in a trite and dismissive critique.

I know that there are many "North and South" fans out there who, like me, can appreciate the novel for what it is, not what they think it should be.

It is simply a beautifully written, engaging and satisfying book.

My Lady Ludlow
Published in Audio Cassette by Audio Book Contractors (January, 2001)
Authors: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell and Flo Gibson
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Elizabeth Gaskell (Berg Womens Series)
Published in Paperback by Berg Pub Ltd (March, 1987)
Author: Tessa Brodetsky
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Elizabeth Gaskell (Key Women Writers)
Published in Paperback by Indiana University Press (July, 1987)
Author: Patsy Stoneman
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