Wives and Daughters

Front Cover
General Books LLC, 2010 - Fiction - 442 pages
Excerpt: ...since he went away, or to relate the conclusions of half-accomplished projects. Cynthia was often on the point of some gay, careless inquiry as to where he had been, and what he had been doing; but Molly, who conjectured the truth, as often interfered to spare him the pain of equivocation-a pain that her tender conscience would have felt for him, much more than he would have felt it for himself. Mrs. Gibson's talk was desultory, complimentary, and sentimental, after her usual fashion; but still, on the whole, though Osborne smiled to himself at much that she said, it was soothing and agreeable. Presently, Dr Nicholls and Mr. Gibson came in; the former had had some conference with the latter on the subject of Osborne's health; and, from time to time, the skilful old physician's sharp and observant eyes gave a comprehensive look at Osborne. Then there was lunch, when every one was merry and hungry, excepting the hostess, who was trying to train her midday appetite into the genteelest of all ways, and thought (falsely enough) that Dr Nicholls was a good person to practise the semblance of ill-health upon, and that he would give her the proper civil amount of commiseration for her ailments, which every guest ought to bestow upon a hostess who complains of her delicacy of health. The old doctor was too cunning a man to fall into this trap. He would keep recommending her to try the coarsest viands on the table; and, at last, he told her if she could not fancy the cold beef to try a little with pickled onions. There was a twinkle in his eye as he said this, that would have betrayed his humour to any observer; but Mr. Gibson, Cynthia, and Molly were all attacking Osborne on the subject of some literary preference he had expressed, and Dr Nicholls had Mrs. Gibson quite at his mercy. She was not sorry when luncheon was over to leave the room to the three gentlemen; and ever afterwards she spoke of Dr Nicholls as 'that bear.' Presently, Osborne came upstairs, ...

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User Review  - wrightja2000 - LibraryThing

I love how the characters are so complete. They are imperfect in a natural and non annoying way.I found myself reading bits to my husband, surprised at how her portrayal of human nature is still ... Read full review

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User Review  - Tess_W - LibraryThing

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell was not as satisfying or as interesting as the other two Gaskell's I've read, Cranford and North and South. I'm not sure what the plot was and I really didn't ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Elizabeth Gaskell was born on September 29, 1810 to a Unitarian clergyman, who was also a civil servant and journalist. Her mother died when she was young, and she was brought up by her aunt in Knutsford, a small village that was the prototype for Cranford, Hollingford and the setting for numerous other short stories. In 1832, she married William Gaskell, a Unitarian clergyman in Manchester. She participated in his ministry and collaborated with him to write the poem Sketches among the Poor in 1837. Our Society at Cranford was the first two chapters of Cranford and it appeared in Dickens' Household Words in 1851. Dickens liked it so much that he pressed Gaskell for more episodes, and she produced eight more of them between 1852 and 1853. She also wrote My Lady Ludlow and Lois the Witch, a novella that concerns the Salem witch trials. Wives and Daughters ran in Cornhill from August 1864 to January 1866. The final installment was never written but the ending was known and the novel exists now virtually complete. The story centers on a series of relationships between family groups in Hollingford. Most critics agree that her greatest achievement is the short novel Cousin Phillis. Gaskell was also followed by controversy. In 1853, she offended many readers with Ruth, which explored seduction and illegitimacy that led the "fallen woman" into ostracism and inevitable prostitution. The novel presents the social conduct in a small community when tolerance and morality clash. Critics praised the novel's moral lessons but Gaskell's own congregation burned the book and it was banned in many libraries. In 1857, The Life of Charlotte Brontė was published. The biography was initially praised but angry protests came from some of the people it dealt with. Gaskell was against any biographical notice of her being written during her lifetime. After her death on November 12, 1865, her family refused to make family letters or biographical data available.

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