Hi guys, how are you? I am actually in Greece right now, which is quite nice :). I flew over with my family on Saturday and we’ve now started our two week holiday. I made sure to have post scheduled for you guys so things should run smoothly while I’m gone. Anyway today I thought I would do another author exploration post about one of my favourite classics author – Elizabeth Gaskell. I picked up my first book by her while I was still at school and I have been slowly making my way through her other books.
North and South / ★★★★★
This is one of my all time favourite books and so I take every opportunity to recommend it :). This follows Margaret Hale and her family as they move from the countryside to a industrial town. Firstly I love the writing and found it so easy to get into. Secondly the characters are fantastic, even the secondary characters (Nicholas and Bessy are fantastic). Margaret Hale is one of my favourites and the romance in this book is done so well. The setting is a really interesting one and you get a great look into the society at that time. I just absolutely love this book and I cannot say enough good things about it. The BBC adaptation starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe is amazing and I would highly recommend checking that out as well. This was the book I started with so I think this is a great place to start if you are interested in reading some Gaskell.
Cranford / ★★★★
This is definitely a bit of an odd one, but it is still well worth a read, especially if you are already a fan of Gaskell. What I mean by odd is the way it is written. It is a short book which is more a series of episodes, than a linear narrative, although there are plot points that run throughout the book. For this reason I think it would be a great place to start if you are new to Gaskell, or classics in general. Although I didn’t realise that going in so it took me a little while to get into the flow of the story, but I ended up really enjoying the meandering plot (realistically it doesn’t have much of a plot) and underlying themes. What really makes this book are the characters – as I mentioned there is not much of a plot, but the character studies within the book are a pleasure to read. So if you like very character driven stories with meandering plot than I highly recommend this book, whether you’ve read Gaskell before or not.
Wives and Daughters / ★★★★
I actually saw the BBC adaptation many years before reading this so I had a vague recollection of what happened. Luckily it didn’t take out any of the enjoyment for me. This is a rather lengthy book, at around 700 pages, and it can be a little slow at times but I found that the writing and characters pull it forward. Once again the characters are fantastic. Gaskell does a wonderful job of creating interesting and well written characters that you will come to really care for. Although some of the characters are pretty annoying. I also highly recommend the BBC adaptation which is very good.
Ruth / ★★★
This is one of Gaskell’s social novels, as it focuses on the idea of a ‘fallen woman’. It is an interesting look into this, as Gaskell forces society to question whether ostracising them is the only way forward, and whether all the fault should be placed on the women. As a modern reader it really makes you think about how quick we can be to judge people, even when we don’t have the full story and that there may be those that we judge more harshly then we should. While I did enjoy this novel, I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as her other works. I felt Ruth as a heroine was too perfect. I understand the point Gaskell was trying to get across of judging ‘fallen women’ too harshly, but to me it just felt very heavy-handed. I personally also found that it was very heavy in religious thinking and scriptural references, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. Overall it was an interesting read, and I did enjoy it for the most part. However if you are new to Gaskell, I would maybe suggest starting with North and South or Cranford, instead of Ruth.
Mary Barton / ★★★
This is Gaskell’s first book and in my opinion it shows. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy this book; I just had some issues with it. The pacing was abit off, the characters lacked depth and I thought the plot was abit lacking as well. However the setting is a very interesting one and I will always enjoy Gaskell’s work. I definitely recommend if you are a fan of Gaskell. I have a full review which you can check out here.
The Life of Charlotte Bronte / unread
Sylvia’s Lovers / unread
I hope to get to her other books soon, but you never know I might be distracted by other books :). I have enjoyed everything I’ve read by her so I fully expect to enjoy them too. Have you guys read any books by Gaskell? Or do you have any on your TBR? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.