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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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Sandra
  • Saint Augustine, FL, United States
  • 07-25-05

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.

48 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Teresa
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 02-03-06

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.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Enjoyable story, excellent performance.

If you could sum up Wives and Daughters in three words, what would they be?

True love wins.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Molly Gibson was my favorite character because she exuded nothing but [character]. She was steadfast or, "constant" as termed several times in the book. I have to give Cynthia credit for being honest, if nothing else. Mr. Gibson, Lady Harriet, and Phoebe played great supporting roles, always championing Molly.

Which scene was your favorite?

I loved the scene when Lady Harriet proudly paraded Molly all over town. It was also funny when Roger tells Mr. Gibson of his intentions (at the end of the story).

If you could rename Wives and Daughters, what would you call it?

One More Chapter? Lol. The Heart Grows Fonder...

Any additional comments?

I was so sad to learn that Mrs. Gaskell died before completing the last chapter of Wives and Daughters. Fortunately, she shared the plot of her story with others, so the reader at least knew what she had in mind for an ending. Unfortunately, I didn't know the story was left unfinished until I reached the end. I was doubly frustrated because I'd just finished North and South, also by Gaskell, which also ended abruptly due to severe time constraints. Overall, she was a gifted writer, a little verbose, but I like the way she developed her characters and plots. Seamless closure to her stories (Wives and Daughters, and North and South, at least), was not meant to be, however.<br/><br/>Nadia May did an excellent job narrating the story, and was the perfect choice for Wives and Daughters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Hard to understand

Did not enjoy. hard to follow/understand.Not what I expected or wanted. very disappointed in this book.

  • Overall

Wives and Daughters

Very interesting way on how marriage was done in that time. The way the people looked after each other and the affairs of single young ladies reputation is amazing.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

superb

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Wives and Daughters. The narrator provided a great service to Elizabeth Gaskill.

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  • Overall
  • Jill
  • 10-10-06

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Steve
  • 03-08-06

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

  • Overall
  • no
  • 08-01-06

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

  • Overall
  • Laurence
  • 04-25-09

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

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Patricia
  • 02-19-17

19th century escapism!

I only knew the work of Mrs Gaskill from the television version of Cranford (my next read) and have been delighted by this wonderful novel. Nadia May has the perfect voice to narrate this story and I'm glad to see that she's doing Cranford as well.

Molly Gibson is a delightful heroine, if a little bit goody two shoes at times, and her stepsister Cynthia a contrasting flippertygibbet leaving a trail of broken hearts in her wake. Molly's stepmother is someone you'd cheerfully strangle in the middle of one of her snobbish and selfish homilies, while her doctor father is the epitome of Scottish good sense. All these characters are drawn with irony and wit, beautifully performed by the skilful narrator.

I thoroughly recommend this book as a blessed relief from 21st century bad news days.

  • Overall
  • Francesca
  • 10-11-05

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