Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Gaskell’

I have to admit that this week I deliberately picked a light book for the blog post as I am back on the Robert Jordan train and wanted something I could tell you about!

Book 45 – Mr Harrison’s Confessions, by Elizabeth Gaskell. This is a short story, in which the eponymous Mr Harrison tells a friend the story of how he met, and managed to win, his wife.

Mr Harrison is a young doctor, just moved from London to a small town in the early Victorian period. He is taken into the hearts of the town – and into the hearts of some of the women a little too forcefully. Despite falling deeply and decidedly in love with one women, somehow he manages to convince the locals that he has given his heart to not just one but three others… Being seen as a cad and a charlatan damages his reputation and his business, and soon he is spurned as a doctor by many of his previous patients. When the woman he loves becomes so ill as to be thought beyond saving, this lack of trust becomes potentially fatal.

I was given this book in a compendium recently, The Oxford Library of Short Novels, and chose to start with this story because I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Gaskell earlier in the year.  For those who have watched ‘Cranford’, this is part of the same world;  have not but I found it rather attractive.

You could of course see that Mr Harrison was getting himself into all sorts of trouble with the various ladies, although his alleged fiancées were actually quite innocent too: that’s the power of gossip for you!  All the characters served their purposes well, even if the object of Mr Harrison’s affections – Sophy – seemed a little to sugar-sweet perfection for me.

This was a speedy read, and despite a terribly sad incident at the start it was actually light and fluffy for the most part, amusing and engaging.  I have found Gaskell a thoroughly comfortable writer to read and will seek out more of her work over the coming months.

I have noticed that with just 4 Tuesdays left this year (yes – we are that close to 2016!) I am unlikely to reach my 52 books without relying on a few short stories so I will be reading some more from the Oxford Library at the same time as my Robert Jordan’s. That way I might not fall too horribly short!

Happy reading,



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I finally finished the second Germany trip book, only to find it didn’t finish!

Book 37 – Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell. This book follows the life of Molly Gibson. She is the daughter of the widowed village GP, a quiet and well-behaved girl who has a close and fulfilling relationship with her father. But, as she grows up and a young man who Dr Gibson is training falls in love with her, the Dr realises things need to change. She is set to visit a nearby invalid lady who has no children of her own, and Dr Gibson proposes to a seemingly suitable woman.

As the story develops, Molly’s life changes remarkably. Gone is the warm closeness of her home life and instead she lives with daily irritations and frustrations. HOwever, what she loses on the one hand, she gains on the other with a beautiful and irresistible new sister.

However, that sister seems destined to deprive Molly of the one man she could ever love…

I knew how this story would end – but sadly, it doesn’t. Gaskell died part-way through the serialisation of the story, and all we are left with is a rounding up of a few loose strands by the editor of the magazine in which it was published. I was really disappointed, actually – I was invested in Molly’s relationships and the people she met. I wanted to see what happened next to more than just her.

I enjoyed it, and thought the characters – especially Molly, Dr Gibson and Roger Hamley, all very sympathetic characters – were incredibly charming, for varied reasons. Mrs Gibson veered towards caricature but had redeeming features which rounded her off a little, and the rest of the characters all had their own quirks which gave them a sense of individuality. It’s worth reading – but without an ending you need to make up your own, and in this case it wasn’t quite as satisfying as I thought it might be!

Book 38 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander (Ok, J.K. Rowling!). This book was sold for Comic Relief and is a real-life version of a book referred to in the Harry Potter stories. There is an introductory section about how a magical book could be for sale in the Muggle world, then Newt Scamander’s intro and the A-Z of beasts. Inside, there are margin notes by Harry, Ron and (just once, I think!) Hermione.

This isn’t really a book for review like the others – I bought it for fun because it was being sold for charity, and I do love the way the Harry Potter universe is so intricate and detailed. It’s not long, and it’s light-hearted, and it’s easy-going. It’s quite clearly aimed at children, and I may use some of the creatures described as inspiration for the decor for my family Halloween party!

If you are interested in the Harry Potter world this is a fun addition to the bookshelf, and if not, it’s sold for a good cause!

Happy reading,

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