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A committed Jane Austen fan, I first discovered Mrs Gaskell through BBC mini-series adaptations of her books whilst casting around for something similar to Jane.
The story itself is wonderfully written with characters that shine. There is subtly of character, humor, and character that you will love and love to hate.
But what really sets this one apart is Prunella Scales' absolutely superb narration, which the sample does not do justice to. She is able to read the male and female characters, upper and middle class accents, and local dialect accents wonderfully. I am English myself, and was so impressed by her range and accuracy. I shall certainly be looking out for more books read by Ms Scales -- bravo!
So if you are a fan of light but subtle, well-written period drama's (this is set in a country town in Victorian England) a la Jane Austen, give this a try - you won't be disappointed.
If you're in the mood for a delightful listen about Victorian, England, I definitely recommend this. It was entertaining and fun and light. Prunella Scales is probably the best reader of any book I've listened to. She moves from person to person so easily that you glide along with her and she never sounds forced.
I was disappointed when I read in some reviews that she died before she could finish the book, but the ending is there just not in her voice which of course would have been preferrable but did not spoil it for me.
This is a wonderful novel and I highly recommend it. The writing style of Elizabeth Gaskell is quite captivating and enjoyable. I had seen the film adaptation on A&E and it was so well done I felt compelled to read the novel that had been adapted to film. Time constraints have led me to audible.com and this version was very well done. The narrator does a splendid job with the novel. I would listen to other works she has narrated and I will definitely read more by Elizabeth Gaskell.
Narrative makes the world go round.
Even though Gaskell died leaving the last chapter up to the reader's imagination (Does it have a usual Austen-like happy ending, or, maybe since the set-up resembles a bit <i>Villette</i>, a more ambiguous ending, one in keeping with Gaskell's admiration for Charlotte Bronte?)- this is still an excellent read for fans or 19th century novels. Perhaps the lack of a trite final chapter adds to the read.
It's more social and character satire (think Gaskell's <i> Cranford</i> than "social problem" novel (think her <i>North and South</i>). Unlike Austen, though, Gaskell overdoes the satire sometimes. There are still some protofeminist elements (Molly has a developing inner life that she sees being stifled by societal conventions!) but they seem to wane as the novel goes on. The prose and structure still aren't Austen or Bronte qaulity, but I found the novel smoother than earlier Gaskell (perhaps the excellent narration helped too).
It is Prunella Scales' narration which brings this novel alive. Each character has an immediately identifiable voice. As a previous reviewer remarked, she illuminates the novel in a way you couldn't do in reading it yourself.
I really enjoyed Wives and Daughters. Prunella Scales did a wonderful job reading the story. I certainly recommend 'listening' to this edition of this classic story.
I have listened to "Wives and Daughters" twice and it was even better on second listen. All the characters are well drawn, but Cynthia steals the show; busily breaking hearts while her selfishly obtuse mother works little miseries upon all who are nearest and dearest.
This is one of Mrs. Gaskell's most humorous books with a flavor of Jane Austen.
The reader does full justice to "Wives and Daughters" and brings all the characters to life.
I'd enjoy anything read by Prunella Scales. I wish there were more books by her. I heard the humaness and humor of the author better than I would have if reading it myself in print.
A fabulous listen. Prunella Scales' depiction of each of the characters is brilliant. I loved it.
"Superb characterisation by a first class reader"
At first I thought Prunella Scales' relatively low-key reading a little dull, but as I Iistened my way through this lengthy classic I came to hear that she has it brilliantly right: a more hyped-up reading would have grown impossibly tiring. Her characterisations of the wearisome Mrs Gibson, the overbearing countess, Cynthia, the Squire and others are spot on, with never a doubt about what each is thinking and feeling behind their words. She even overcame the only drawback of the book - that Molly and Roger are so spotlessly white, and their relationship so lacking in tension, that I have always found it difficult to take a full interest in whether or not they come together.
"Wives and Daughters"
I am a big fan of the BBC TV dramatization of Wives and Daughters anyway, but this reading excelled all expectation. I imagine that the success of good narration is allowing the listener to become absorbed in the story and not be distracted by the reading itself, and Prunella Scales completely achieved this. Thank you for hours of extremely enjoyable listening.
One of the best books I have listened to recently.
The simplicity of the story and I Gaskells ability to make you feel like you are in the room with the characters made this a charming book.
Prunella Scales was the ideal narrator. I read some reviews which say she gabbled too quickly some of the characters. I have to disagree here she brought to life these characters in the way she portrayed them.
The book induces all manner of feelings, Gaskell has a way of endearing all the characters to you. Even those you assume when first introduced to them that you won't like. Mrs Gibson for instance I found I developed an unexpected sympathy for.
The ending is abrupt as Elizabeth Gaskell died before the last chapter. However the story is really told by then and the summary ending given by her editor is what you already expect. It is a shame she never finished this book, however it is a great work and has certainly challenged Jane Austin in my affection.
An excellent book - beautifully written and witty with memorable characters. The enjoyment is enhanced by the memorable reading of Prunella Scales.
"Wives and Daughters"
This is a great story with wonderfully conceived characters. It is seldom an audible book matches the enjoyment of a paper copy but Prunella Scales reading of this novel is masterly and draws the listener in.
I enjoyed being transported back into another era. The reader captured the voices so well. I had not read the book before and found it very interesting as an evocation of another era.
"A warmhearted tale, well read!"
I love this story and Prunella Scales is an excellent narrator. Recommended for long winter evenings by the fire side!
A very enjoyable audio book. Skillfully read by Prunella Scales only to be faulted in that occasionally she delivers some of the dialogue rather quickly. Her reading is responsive to the affect of the text and distinguishes well the differing characters. It is a long book which also makes it a treat to listen to. Recommeded.
"Frustrating due to narrator"
Yes, the narrator (and the author's unfortunate demise prior to finishing).
Prunella Scales is obviously very talented and has the capacity to read this very well - one can hear so many different characterisations and the correct use of accents.
However, she gabbles constantly, to the point of leaving out the ends of words as she rushes to the next one, particularly in the dialogue of the upper classes.
I have finally given up and am going to try another narrator.
She rushes it. Shame - could have been so good.
It has already been made into a lovely TV series.
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