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)
Subjectivity Space Rebecca shares her thoughts on reading Gaskell’s first published novel
She [Elizabeth Gaskell] takes her characters through their teenaged years, self-discovery, regret, and maturity. She rounds them out with faults, follies, and saving graces. There is the breathlessness of the factory fire, the mystery of the murder, the tension of the courtroom. All the while, inviting her audience in to question what they would do if they were walking in such worn and sodden shoes… “Mary Barton” the book, and the character by the same name, live through quite an adventure. I didn’t want to put it down… read more.
As is always the case with Ms Gaskell, she captures the class issues fantastically. The ladies were constantly “putting on an act” in trying to meet the community’s expectations for their social class, even though they were, for the most part, nearly impoverished by the combined fact of their old age and their unmarried status. Although friends looked away when they did something frugally, their frugality was never discussed. Still, each woman continues to act the part of an upper-middle-class woman, and carefully calculates their socializing to fit the community’s standards… read more. See book club details and the Cranford discussion questions.
Cranford mainly focused upon the small English village between 1842-1843, during the early years of the Victorian Age. On the surface, Cranford seemed like an idyllic community in which time remained stuck in the late Georgian Age. However, progress – both technological and social – began its intrusion upon the community for better or worse …The miniseries closed on what seemed to be a real sense of community. And that is what the theme of Cranford seemed to be about – at least to me. Community… read more.
Fleur Fisher in Her World writes about The Moorland Cottage
Now this little novella really has captivated me. The lovely style, the fine prose, the wonderful evocation of the period and the countryside setting. And, most of all, the characters and their stories… read more.
She Reads Novels Helen shares her thought on The Moorland Cottage
The Moorland Cottage is a short but very moving and emotional story… Mrs Browne and her children, Edward and Maggie, live with their elderly servant, Nancy, in a cottage near the town of Combehurst. It’s no secret that Edward is their mother’s favourite child but while she dotes on her son, she never has a kind word for her daughter. In a big house nearby live the wealthy Mr Buxton and his gentle, loving wife. There are also two children in the Buxton household: their son, Frank, and their niece, Erminia. The Buxtons attempt to befriend the Brownes, but while they can all see the goodness in Maggie, they find it difficult to like the spoilt, selfish Edward and the cold, snobbish Mrs Browne. As the years go by and the lives of the Brownes become more and more entwined with their neighbours’, Maggie is forced to make a decision which could potentially affect the future of both families… read more.