Lady Ludlow's appalling snobbery, prejudice and bred-in-the-bone conviction as to the superiority of the English aristocracy and their feudal way of life are deliciously tested, and found wanting, in this gently radical tale of the collapse of a social system.
Elizabeth Gaskell's My Lady Ludlow is a brilliant picture of the shift in power in a rural northern village, from the velvety feudal Ludlows to the glitter of the new money rattling through the system courtesy of the brazen baker from Birmingham.
The interruption of scenes from the French Revolution adds a crackling of horror to this quintessentially British of downfalls. One of the extraordinary things about My Lady Ludlow as a book is that in spite of the creation of a monster of hidebound arrogance and pretension, Gaskell cannot help but produce a character that you end up rooting for right up to the wide grin induced by the final twist in the plot.
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