Gaskell Chronicle

The Gaskell Chronicle brings together the best recent blog posts, covering a variety of opinions, and news items related to Elizabeth Gaskell each Saturday.

Mary Barton (1848)

Tales from a Mom in Training Jenn shares her thoughts

After listening to an interview about Gaskell, I was persuaded to begin by reading Mary Barton first. I am glad that I did. It was excellent. It begins on a moderately high note (in the context of a mostly depressing book) and goes downhill from there. It reminded me a bit of Thomas Hardy in that there is doom lurking around every corner. I am not one to shy away from a depressing story, especially when it is based on an pretty accurate portrayal of the time period, but I got a little bogged down by this one. About half-way through I actually considered quitting. I’m relieved that I didn’t …read more.

Cranford (1851-53)

Couch World takes a look at the television adaptation

When we leave Cranford five hours after we arrived, we’ve smiled a lot, teared up a few times, and have come to admire these women, their capacity for friendship and their desire to keep the future from arriving too soon. If you hear the term “heartwarming,” don’t be put off. This program is intelligently written and is acted with extraordinary and underplayed skill… read more.

A Bookworm’s Life shares her favorite quote and thoughts on the book

Cranford is brilliant. It’s set in this small English village and revolves around the lives of its lovable and quirky residents. They do not lead extraordinary lives, their stories probably don’t stand out against the stories of every other village and small town of that time. However, Cranford is just such a charming story, it was impossible to not keep reading. Mrs Gaskell brings her characters to life, with their secrets, their pleasures, their grudges, their specific pet peeves and beliefs and all the other small things that make one a whole person …read more.

North and South (1854-5)

The Powell Blog takes an in-depth look at the many topics a successful North and South sequel would need to cover

If there is one thing I enjoyed about Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel and its 2004 television adaptation was that both turned out to be a well-written saga that combined romance, family strife and social issues. I believe that this combination could be repeated in a sequel to ”North and South”. This sequel could continue the exploration of Margaret Hale and John Thornton’s relationship through their own personalities, family connections, their friendship with Nicholas Higgins and the economic repercussions of slavery and the U.S. Civil War on Britain’s cotton industry and Northern England’s economy. I could go as far to say that a sequel to ”North and South” has the potential to be just as fascinating as Gaskell’s original novel… read more.

Christian Science Monitor Marjorie Kehe lists North and South as #1 in the 10 Perfect Books for Valentines Day

I don’t know why this fabulous 1854 novel doesn’t turn up on more “best of” lists. The story of the reluctant romance between idealistic Margaret Hale (from England’s rural south) and pragmatic mill owner John Thornton (born and bred in the industrial north) is like “Pride and Prejudice” with more historic context and a bit of urban grit. If you’re looking for a romance that will satisfy both your brain and your heart, North and South is first rate… go to the article.

The Zen Leaf Amanda shares the reasons she had a hard time getting through the novel

This book is both a romance and a political work about industrialism and class differences… the writing, which felt very clunky to me… was all telling and no showing, and then it swung on a pendulum back and forth between gossip and politics. Every change in swing felt jarring, as if this were two different books sewn together… read more.

Wives and Daughters (1865)

Nightmare’s, Daydreams, and Imagined Conversations Lauryn writes a book review on my personal favorite of Gaskell’s work

Gaskell’s writing style and her approach to plot and characters are very similar to that of Jane Austen, though more understated in their execution. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Gibson is definitely reminiscent of the Bennets’ marriage in Pride and Prejudice but with more evident malice. Where Jane Austen’s novels follow their characters as they travel around England, Gaskell’s characters’ journeys beyond the neighborhood and society of Hollingford are limited to accounts and descriptions through letters. But at the same time, there is a greater sense of the world beyond England… read more.


Rebecca Reads reflects on Gaskell’s My Lady Ludlow

…Captures an interesting time in England: the years following the French Revolution in which the aristocracy of England was trying to find their own place in a changing world. The story is told through the eyes of a distant cousin who has become crippled and so spends most of her days in the presence with the august lady, hearing her opinions and enjoying the local gossip as filtered through Lady Ludlow’s perspective…  it was fascinating to see the portrayal of her opinions. From my modern perspective, it was striking how unfair her classification of the lower classes was… read more.


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