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Maven Books

Reviews about historical, literary, classic, and other fiction.  Miscellaneous book things.

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Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters (Oxford World's Classics) by Gaskell, Elizabeth published by Oxford University Press, USA (2009) -

This is the first Gaskell book that I've read, but I'm not sure why I kept reading as long as I did, as it wasn't really a very enjoyable book.  It was overly long for having so little happen, and every little thing felt drawn out and it sometimes got a bit repetitive, due to all the overly detailed descriptions and build-up.  And yet, there was still more to come, except that the author had died before writing the rest!

Beyond the length being an issue, the biggest problem was that the characters felt more like paper dolls than real people.  It seemed like the author danced around really defining them, getting too caught up in the overly wordy writing style to make them seem like actual humans.  A lot more telling than showing.

It also didn't help to have the regular reminders that the story took place some years before it was written, though the author contradicted herself or dated things incorrectly on multiple occasions (as the included endnotes pointed out).  Not to mention the annoying overuse of "tête-à-tête!"

Perhaps some of her other works are better written, but this one certainly hasn't made a great initial impression on me, especially after having recently read works by Dickens and Trollope.