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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Molly Gibson, the only daughter of a widowed doctor in the small provincial town of Hollingford, lost her mother when she was a child. Her father remarries wanting to give Molly the woman's presence he feels she lacks. To Molly, any stepmother would have been a shock, but the new Mrs. Gibson is a self-absorbed, petty widow, and Molly's unhappiness is compounded by the realisation that her father has come to regret his second marriage.

Although Molly resents her stepmother, she befriends her new step-sister, Cynthia, who is loveable, but worldly and troubling. The audiobook chronicles their maturation into womanhood within the confines of the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.

As Molly matures and falls in love she learns to judge people for what they are, not what they seem. Through Molly, the social values and changes of early 19th century England are brought to life in this timeless representation of human relationships. The audiobook is more than just a nostalgic story of village life, it offers an ironic critique of mid-Victorian society.

Known as her last, longest, and perhaps finest work, it was not quite complete when Gaskell died suddenly in 1865. The last section was written by Frederick Greenwood.

Narrator Biography

Prunella Scales is a classically trained stage actress but is best known for her role as Sybil Fawlty in the BBC comedy Fawlty Towers (1975-1979) and for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in A Question of Attribution (1991) for which she was nominated a BAFTA. Her film appearances have included Stiff Upper Lips (1997), Howard's End (1992) and Wolf (1994). She was awarded the CBE for her services to drama in 1992 and the Patricia Rothermere Award for her contributions to British Theatre in 2001. More recent appearances have included the mini-series The Shell Seekers (2006), a production of Carrie's War at the Apollo Theatre (2009), Horrid Henry: The Movie (2013) and a guest appearance in the popular BBC radio comedy Cabin Pressure (2013). Julian Barnes' The Lemon Table and Anne Fine's Charm School are among the many audiobooks Prunella Scales has narrated.

Public Domain ©2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Kristen
  • Geneva, NY, United States
  • 12-02-09

Wonderful company

This is my first audio book, so I don't have a lot of context in which to judge, but I enjoyed every second of it. I already knew the story, and was impressed with Prunella Scales's voicing of the characters. Unlike a reviewer below, I didn't find her narration "flat;" I don't want the reader's voice to overwhelm the text. I think I'm going to purchase more of Mrs. Gaskell, as read by Scales.

  • Overall

Brilliant narration

While Elizabeth Gaskell novels are always excellent, the narration of this one surpassed all expectations and enhanced the story immeasurably. From Welsh to Scots, from high-born to low, Ms Scales was spot on and could slip from one to the other seamlessly. Astonishing gift and perfect vehicle. One of my favourite purchases from Audible.

  • Overall
  • R. Hughes
  • New York, NY United States
  • 07-16-09

Enchantment and Wisdom

Prunella Scales brings great variety to the characters here, and her superb reading allows us to savor the profound depths of Elizabeth Gaskell's masterpiece. It's a great narrative of a great novel -- I didn't want it to end, and Ms. Scales is able to give us every character distinctly. A real triumph. I wish she read more Victorian novels!

  • Overall

wives and daughters

great listen, narrator terrific

  • Overall

Not my cup of tea...

I tried...gave it my best shot...but yawn....couldn't get past the first 4 chapters. Waste of my credit.

  • Overall

Excellent

Really excellent! I love the characters in the world Ms. Gaskell has created. They are engrossing, some are devilishly clever, some are very flawed, some extremely kind. And, even though she was unable to finish it, we all know how it ends. Lovely

  • Overall

Hard. VERY hard to listen to.

She is like a speed reader. Perhaps the director told her she had only **so** many CDs for her work, so she had to pace herself to get all of the unabridged text on the CDs. For whatever reason, she reads the text so incredibly fast that even a seasoned reader or listener has to pay 100% attention to her reading to understand what is happening. THAT is not why I buy an audio book. I purchase an audio book to HELP me get through a tedious task, or actually to help me go to sleep at night. NOT to listen to it, and it alone. I can’t even tell you what the story line is about … after having tried to listen to it three times! Beware. Unless you are a speed listener this book might not be for you. I will watch out for this narrator.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jan
  • Ambler, PA, United States
  • 09-15-09

monotonous

The narrators voice was flat and without expression, it ruined the telling of a great story.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful