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Wives And Daughters

Elizabeth Gaskell

2 Chapters
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2 Readers
Completed on 29 April 2022

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 step-sister enters Molly's quiet life – 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. When Elizabeth Gaskell died suddenly in 1865, the novel was not quite complete, and after chapter 60, there is a 'Concluding Remark' section by the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, in which the novel was serialized. 


Elizabeth Gaskell's "Wives and Daughters" is a masterfully crafted novel that immerses readers in the intricate web of relationships, secrets, and societal conventions in Victorian England. With its vivid characters, richly detailed settings, and insightful exploration of human nature, Gaskell delivers a captivating tale that lingers long after the final page. The novel follows the story of Molly Gibson, a young girl growing up in the fictional town of Hollingford. Gaskell expertly weaves together the lives and experiences of an array of characters, showcasing the intricate dynamics within families, romantic relationships, and the social fabric of the time. Through Molly's eyes, we witness the joys, sorrows, and complexities of Victorian society. One of the most remarkable aspects of "Wives and Daughters" is Gaskell's exceptional character development. Each individual, from the kind-hearted Molly to the enigmatic Cynthia, feels alive and multi-dimensional. Gaskell deftly explores their personalities, motivations, and inner conflicts, making them relatable and engrossing to readers. The complex relationships and emotional journeys they undertake evoke empathy and investment in their fates.