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Wives and Daughters | [Elizabeth Gaskell]

Wives and Daughters

Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centers on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new stepsister enters Molly's quiet life, the loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.
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Publisher's Summary

Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centers on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new stepsister enters Molly's quiet life, the loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.

(P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks. Originally published in England between 1864 and 1866.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (208 )
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4.2 (122 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sandra Saint Augustine, FL, United States 07-25-05
    Sandra Saint Augustine, FL, United States 07-25-05 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's not about the ending!"

    This was long and lovely,--a British accent is crisp and clear; Nadia May has that and more. The story is of Molly Gibson, a nineteenth century middleclass teenager, an admirable if slightly insipid heroine, her wonderful father--a country doctor, her magnetic stepsister Cynthia and Mrs. Gibson, the stepmother who is as close to innocuous evil as Ms Gaskell can bring herself, and various other characters of differing classes who live nearby and help make this book a 19th century soap opera. Don't be off put by the fact that the author, Elizabeth Gaskell, a contemporary of Austin and the Brontes, died just before finishing this classic. The afterword addresses the lack of an ending. We are given what we are told was the author's intent to have happy closure for the characters who most deserved it. It was a lovely voyage and that it ended just short of its destination did not make it much less enjoyable.

    It has taken me nearly half a century to discover why classics are such great audio treats, not so different from the well written books of today, but missing the compulsory sex and vulgarities. This novel ensures that I will look for more Audible classics to savour.

    37 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Portland, OR, United States 02-03-06
    Teresa Portland, OR, United States 02-03-06

    Give me a good tale, one to make me stay up all night! I love non-fiction, and 19th century Victorian fiction. Georgette Heyer is a worthy successor to Jane Austen. Married, 2 kids, worked in tech support.

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    "What a wonderful story and listen"

    I love this book. I love to listen to the story. It pulls me into the story and the lives of these people. The author is witty, and some of Dr. Gibson's statements are worth the price of the book. The BBC adaptation (also wonderful) made me realize that Mrs. Gibson is really a ditzy person who speaks without thinking. Listening with that in mind really brings forward the satire. A true unknown classic.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Buergelt Gainesville, FL United States 11-12-12
    Nancy Buergelt Gainesville, FL United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great timeless story!"
    What did you love best about Wives and Daughters?

    I loved the characters' complexity.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Gaskell kept my interest by interweaving so many different scenes and personalities.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Although I did not admire her personality, my favorite scenes involved Mrs. Gibson portraying herself as one person while her words and actions showed her to be something completely different.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but impossible at 25 hours. I did not want the story to end.


    Any additional comments?

    This book makes me want to go back to reading 19th century fiction.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richmond Rabinowitz 02-27-11 Member Since 2006
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    "I loved this book!"

    If you are looking for adventure and swift plot, this is not for you. If, however, you are looking for great characters and like English country stories, you will have a wonderful time with this one. The characters are a little like those in Trollope's Barsetshire novels, but they are more realistic - Cynthia is a great charachter, flawed, loving and fabulous. Nadia May is, of course, wonderful.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael J. Sherick Sebastopol, CA USA 06-21-12
    Michael J. Sherick Sebastopol, CA USA 06-21-12 Member Since 2008

    mjsbooks

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    "Great narrator, wonderful characters."
    What made the experience of listening to Wives and Daughters the most enjoyable?

    I love all of the characters and would have liked to live in their world for many more chapters. Nadia May is a favorite narrator for me. She does a wonderful job. I will hear Mr. Gibson forever in my head as the voice of reason. I will save this one for a second listening down the road.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    catherine 07-19-14
    catherine 07-19-14 Member Since 2011
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    "wonderful"
    Would you listen to Wives and Daughters again? Why?

    This classic look at early 1800's village life England is so well written and narrated that I fell into it completely from beginning to end. Why had I never heard of this novel before? Originally serialized in the monthly literary magazine "The Cornhill", it has all the trappings of a good soap opera but with characters drawn with such amazing detail and balance. The author died before completing the last chapter and an afterward from her editor give hints as to how the last strings would have been tied up. There is also a BBC TV production on Netflix. Nadia May provides superior narration. A great investment in time!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon West Monroe, LA, United States 04-17-14
    Sharon West Monroe, LA, United States 04-17-14 Member Since 2009

    Humanitarian Aid Worker living in Central Asia.

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    "Wonderful Story well Narrated"

    I love Elizabeth Gaskell's books. Wives and Daughters was my first introduction to Gaskell many years ago. I have enjoyed "re-reading" her books in audio format as the narrator's voice and emphasis have brought passages I had forgotten or overlooked to life. I wish she had written more!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 03-06-14
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 03-06-14 Member Since 2011

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Two girls on the verge of womanhood."

    This is a lovely story about Molly Gibson, daughter of the town doctor and Cynthia Kirkpatrick, her new stepsister who is much more worldly than dear Molly.

    We all have known women like Cynthia; they are so charming that men and women love to do things for them. My sister is like this. Once she had a date and hadn't done her housework so I volunteered to do it for her so she wouldn't miss out on her date. Only later, when I was doing her work, did I say to myself, " Why did I let her do this to me? She is out having fun and I am cleaning up her messes." Does that sound familiar?

    Molly does end up cleaning some of Cynthia's messes and it could be catastrophic for her, had she not made some important friends along the way who clear her name.

    Hyacinth Kirkpatrick is the one you love to hate. Although not an "evil" stepmother, she is probably the most self involved narcissist I have read about in many years.

    This was Mrs. Gaskell's last book, left unfinished at her death, but the story winds down enough that you can see where she is going and who ends up with who at the end.

    Mrs. Gaskell always writes wonderful characters and even Cynthia, who was neglected as a child is sympathetic and believable. Mrs. Kirkpatrick Gibson is harder to like but you can understand how she came to be who she came to be. Molly is the most enjoyable person in the book and there is no way you can't come away with an admiration of her character's ethics and likeability.

    The men play a good part of the story and for the most part they are original and beautifully drawn.

    This is a good story and it will capture your heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Oneal California 02-20-14
    C. Oneal California 02-20-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm addicted to Audible. A new grandma I am responsible for my grandsons library, which reignited my interest in books.

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    "An escape, well performed"

    This was very long and if you're looking for an escape to another land and time it's entertaining. But it takes awhile to gain any intrigue, almost half the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth Sacramento, CA, United States 12-17-13
    Ruth Sacramento, CA, United States 12-17-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Great PBS mini series--tedious listen"
    Would you try another book from Elizabeth Gaskell and/or Nadia May?

    No, the style is too wordy for me; narrator read too fast.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Elizabeth Gaskell again?

    I think I had enough of this literature in graduate school as an English major.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator read too fast for me to keep up!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Jill
    Hove, E Sussex, United Kingdom
    10/10/06
    Overall
    "Lovely novel; wonderful reader (Nadia May)"

    In terms of character creation this novel seems to me equal if not superior to anything by Dickens or George Eliot. How has Mrs Gaskell managed to make such an engaging, thoroughly satisfying narrative out of these humdrum,even banal events? Her creations are so individual, so varied and so real-seeming that the lack of any complicated plotting or intrigue never strikes you.

    But I'd like to stress the superb interpretation by Nadia May, a reader new to me. I've listened to hundreds of audiobooks over many years (chronic insomniac) and am very fussy about how they are presented. Wrong inflections, careless or lazy readings where you know the interpreter is coasting through the text can be maddening and spoil the whole pleasure (and wake you up!) It's not the beauty of the sound that's most important; I've been listening to Penelope Wilton reading this novel on Oneword, and despite a delightfully seductive and warm voice her reading is nowhere near as intelligent and varied as that of Nadia May - who does a wonderful job with everyone from the child Molly to the saccharine, insincere Mrs Gibson, by way of various male characters young and old. What a tour de force! I hope she reads this...I felt uncharacteristically moved to express my pleasure.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    Doncaster, United Kingdom
    3/8/06
    Overall
    "Great Characters & Social-scene Painting"

    Mrs Gaskell gives life to a host of characters with their strengths and weaknesses lovingly depicted. None is two-dimensional, all have human depth. Mrs Kirkpatrick is a wonderful comic creation whom I could cheerfully have strangled on a number of occasions.
    Mrs Gaskell's view of the foibles and conventions of 19th century England is gently optimistic. Her approach is softer and more domestic than Dickens (who rated her very highly).
    Read with splendid chacterisations by Nadia May.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Susan
    East Dean SP5 1HJ
    8/1/06
    Overall
    "fascinating book"

    I read and listen to a lot of 19th century literature. Whilst you could not claim it has a lot of narrative drive - and you want to shake most of the characters a lot of the time - it was still very enjoyable. The good characters are convincingly good - and the mixed up characters are convincingly good at messing up their own lives and families. Mrs Gibson is a completely authentic pain in the neck. You would enjoy this book

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Laurence
    PORTSMOUTH, United Kingdom
    4/25/09
    Overall
    "19th Centuary Charm"

    Mrs Gaskell has a clear and, at times, acerbic eye for the social mores of her day. This tale of Dr Gibson and his family is to be remembered not just for for the trials endured by the heroine Molly Gibson, but the social milieu in which she had her being. This observation of the manners of a middle class family, the behaviour of the local aristocracy and an ancient yeoman farming family is the chief delight of this masterpeice which is without doubt the best of Elizabeth Gaskells's output.
    The Reader, Nadia May, is so well suited to both the period and style that it is a performance which in every way compliments Mrs Gaskell's prose.
    A very fine audiobook that, despite its length, was a total joy.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Francesca
    BarryUnited Kingdom
    10/11/05
    Overall
    "Wives and Daughters"

    This is the perfect book for those wishing to surround themselves in a pre railways era. Molly Mat seems a little mawkish to current day tastes but she wins your sympathy by the end, while the divine Cynthia holds your attention from the very beginning.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results

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