I just finished reading Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, and what a wonderful experience it was. Although I've heard of the author beforehand - I'm a huge fan of the BBC mini series North & South, I had never read her. I also have N&S on my nightstand waiting for its turn. But Wives and Daughters was a library book, I decided to read it first.
Wives and Daughters was the last novel that Elizabeth Gaskell wrote, actually she never finished the book. She dies while writing it. But by no means is the book unfinished, a lot of the issues were finalized, and the editor/publisher wrote a brief epilogue.
Wives and Daughters is the story of Molly Gibson. She a sweet, sincere, and at times boring character, but she's so lovable. Her father, a widowed doctor, is concerned about his daughters upbringing he sends Molly to the Hamley's for a visit.Molly is warmly received at the home of Squire Hamley and his disabled wife. The Hamley's have two sons, Osborne and Roger. Molly befriends them both, although Osborne is considered the favorite, it is Roger that Molly eventually falls in love with. While she's there, Mr. Gibson, marries Hyacinth Clair Kirkpatrick, a charming but petty, manipulative widow and former governess in the household of Lord Cumnor.
Although Molly does not like her stepmother, she adores her stepsister Cynthia. They are both very different people but they get along together beautifully. There were times that I felt that Mrs. Gibson resented the relationship between Cynthia and Molly. Cynthia has her own issues, she has a distant relationship with her mother, and she openly says that she doesnt love her because she never had a chance to know her. She is also secretly engaged to Mr. Preston, whom she avoids at all costs.
Although I didn't care much for either Cynthia and Osborne, I felt they they were both selfish, and cowards. They had one redeeming quality, they were truly sorry for the wrongs they did.
I absolutely loved the book! I thought it was beautifully written and it was believable. I think I've found an author that I love as much as Jane Austen. I highly recommend this book!
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (5/5) Classic Literature; Published: Cornhill (1866); 2009 100 + Reading Challenge (29); 2009 Support Your Local Library (24); 18th & 19th Century Women Writers' Reading Challenge (3); Romance Reading Challenge (3)