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AustenToZafon

Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler
Wives and Daughters - Pam Morris, Elizabeth Gaskell I listened to the Blackstone Audio book, read by Nadia May, who was wonderful and clearly enjoyed reading this book aloud. I don't think my experience would have been nearly as rich reading the book to myself. The downside is that it's almost 16 hours long! That's a pretty big time investment as a listener.

The plot is a fairly simple pastoral romance in the times when inheritance and class were everything (1830s), and it could have been boring, trite, or overwrought by another author. But Gaskell had an amazing ability to portray people with such detail and depth that you sympathize with even the most irritating characters. In other hands, Molly's step-mother could have been a complete shrew with no redeeming qualities and Squire Hamley could have been a stock-character blowhard who exists solely to advance the plot. Instead, you feel you know these and all the other characters, and you understand them in their failings and their better qualities. I was sad to get to the end of the story. ESPECIALLY sad because Gaskell died before she could finish the novel! There is an afterword that talks about notes Gaskell left that show the direction she would have taken the story, but boy, that's a cold substitute for her warm and lively prose that transports you right into the drawing rooms of Hollingford.