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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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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 will definitely be listeningto another work of this author. I chose it because I enjoyed the BBC drama production of it so much. I was really put at first because that the book is unfinished (the author died before writing the last chapter), but the narrative summing up the book by a magazine editor of the time was wonderful and very appropriate. I would say a much read if you enjoy Victorian novels and even if you don't.
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