The tale of a rural habitation in the late 19th century and the effect of industrialisation on the local community.
Seventeen-year-old Phillis lives on Hope Farm with her parents Minister Ebenezer Holman and his simple wife. Her second cousin Paul Manning, at first reluctantly, comes to visit. He is the son of a rising inventor from Birmingham and is employed as a clerk to Edward Holdsworth, the managing engineer of a railway company laying a line close to the farm. When Paul introduces his new employer and friend to Phillis he little realises the traumatic effect this will have on the young girl.
Elizabeth Gaskell is never judgemental and sketches a subtle portrait of an unsophisticated mode of living that once touched by irresistible forces will never be the same again.
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