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Ruth, orphaned and alone at the age of 12, is lead astray at 16 by an affluent, self centered young man in his early 20's and then abandoned after she becomes pregnant. She is taken in by a kindly, sympathetic clergyman and his sister who share their home. Assuming the identity of a young widow, Ruth raises her child and is grateful for her good fortune and the generosity of those around her. After a dozen years, her secret of being an unwed mother is, through unexpected connections, revealed. She is then rejected and shunned by members of the community who had previously welcomed her into their homes. The rest of the story concerns Ruth's redemption; she is finally recognized and elevated for always putting the welfare of others ahead of her own. The novel is beautifully executed with a bittersweet ending. I have read and listed to a number of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels and have found each to be unique and memorable. The author balances sorrow and joy in equal parts.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
In some ways this is a deeply sentimental, predictable story, in which Ruth, like Tess D'Urberville, is hung out to dry by her author. Compared with the much feistier heroines of the Brontes,Ruth can seem implausibly passive. But it is still a fascinating and gripping account of Victorian mores, and one that makes the listener all the happier to be living in the 21st century. Beautifully read by Eve Mattheson who at least doubles the pleasure.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Elizabeth Gaskell?s excellent 3-dimensional characters (Mr. Bradshaw, whose inflexible adherence to his interpretation of the bible make him tragically mistaken in his belief that he is good whilst his actions make him cruel and heartless; Mr. Benson, who believes, erroneously ? also because of rigid Victorian religious views ? that he is evil, whilst in reality he is charitable and Christ-like in his attitude to ?sin?) give a true insight into Victorian society.
Apart from some seemingly endless ramblings in sections of Ruth, in the main, it is a thoughtful, skilfully structured novel which gives a vivid portrayal of how it was to live in Victorian times.
Eve Matheson is quite brilliant in her narration and portrayals of all the characters. I highly recommend this audiobook.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
She was a white in a sea of grey. She was Ruth. An incredible powerhouse of humility. An unforgettably brilliant novel of redemption and grace.
Loved reading this book. The story about Ruth is amaging and cant wait to finish the story.