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Publisher's Summary

Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centers on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new stepsister enters Molly's quiet life, the loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.
(P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks. Originally published in England between 1864 and 1866.
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Customer Reviews

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By Sandra on 07-25-05

It's not about the ending!

This was long and lovely,--a British accent is crisp and clear; Nadia May has that and more. The story is of Molly Gibson, a nineteenth century middleclass teenager, an admirable if slightly insipid heroine, her wonderful father--a country doctor, her magnetic stepsister Cynthia and Mrs. Gibson, the stepmother who is as close to innocuous evil as Ms Gaskell can bring herself, and various other characters of differing classes who live nearby and help make this book a 19th century soap opera. Don't be off put by the fact that the author, Elizabeth Gaskell, a contemporary of Austin and the Brontes, died just before finishing this classic. The afterword addresses the lack of an ending. We are given what we are told was the author's intent to have happy closure for the characters who most deserved it. It was a lovely voyage and that it ended just short of its destination did not make it much less enjoyable.

It has taken me nearly half a century to discover why classics are such great audio treats, not so different from the well written books of today, but missing the compulsory sex and vulgarities. This novel ensures that I will look for more Audible classics to savour.

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48 of 48 people found this review helpful


By Teresa on 02-03-06

What a wonderful story and listen

I love this book. I love to listen to the story. It pulls me into the story and the lives of these people. The author is witty, and some of Dr. Gibson's statements are worth the price of the book. The BBC adaptation (also wonderful) made me realize that Mrs. Gibson is really a ditzy person who speaks without thinking. Listening with that in mind really brings forward the satire. A true unknown classic.

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19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Jill on 10-10-06

Lovely novel; wonderful reader (Nadia May)

In terms of character creation this novel seems to me equal if not superior to anything by Dickens or George Eliot. How has Mrs Gaskell managed to make such an engaging, thoroughly satisfying narrative out of these humdrum,even banal events? Her creations are so individual, so varied and so real-seeming that the lack of any complicated plotting or intrigue never strikes you.

But I'd like to stress the superb interpretation by Nadia May, a reader new to me. I've listened to hundreds of audiobooks over many years (chronic insomniac) and am very fussy about how they are presented. Wrong inflections, careless or lazy readings where you know the interpreter is coasting through the text can be maddening and spoil the whole pleasure (and wake you up!) It's not the beauty of the sound that's most important; I've been listening to Penelope Wilton reading this novel on Oneword, and despite a delightfully seductive and warm voice her reading is nowhere near as intelligent and varied as that of Nadia May - who does a wonderful job with everyone from the child Molly to the saccharine, insincere Mrs Gibson, by way of various male characters young and old. What a tour de force! I hope she reads this...I felt uncharacteristically moved to express my pleasure.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful


By Steve on 03-08-06

Great Characters & Social-scene Painting

Mrs Gaskell gives life to a host of characters with their strengths and weaknesses lovingly depicted. None is two-dimensional, all have human depth. Mrs Kirkpatrick is a wonderful comic creation whom I could cheerfully have strangled on a number of occasions.
Mrs Gaskell's view of the foibles and conventions of 19th century England is gently optimistic. Her approach is softer and more domestic than Dickens (who rated her very highly).
Read with splendid chacterisations by Nadia May.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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