So You Want to Read… (Elizabeth Gaskell)

Posted 4 November, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 10 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! šŸ™‚

For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Elizabeth Gaskell (author tag). Not entirely sure why but it seemed fitting to place this list for the month of November; there’s something about some of her books that seem perfect in the autumn season šŸ™‚ Anyway, I first picked up Elizabeth Gaskell’s books around…2007/2008 after someone recommended the ever-wonderful 2004 television adaptation of North and South; if you haven’t seen it, this is an absolute must. It was also the first time I encountered the wonderful actor Richard Armitage grace my screen šŸ˜› —


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*ahem* Anyway, I read the book and absolutely fell in love with it. I picked up a number of her books since, though sadly I don’t have reviews for some of them. Nonetheless, here we are, here’s my recommendations of which of her books to check out if you’re interested in reading her books šŸ™‚

  • North and South (review) — An absolute given šŸ˜› It’s kind of like Pride and Prejudice (review) except it’s set in northern England and really there’s a whole lot more to the novel than the growing relationship between Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton. This book immediately solidified my love for Ms. Gaskell’s writing, the way she’s able to interweave social commentary to a very engaging and interesting story populated with well-rounded characters. It’s a gem of a read, definitely and highly recommended!
  • Wives and Daughters — Elizabeth Gaskell did not finish this novel due to her death, but the book more or less hints to how the story was going to end (she also told a friend, I believe…and then of course there’s the BBC adaptation starring Justine Waddall and Keeley Hawes; definitely worth checking out, by the way, it’s an excellent series!). Molly and Roger’s budding romance is far more quieter, and punctured with obstacles from Molly’s stepsister Cynthia to family drama on Roger’s side, but it’s quite an interesting read in character and social dynamics and interactions.
  • Cranford — BBC also made two delightful series based on the stories set in the sleepy town of Cranford. It’s a far different read than the first two but just as enjoyable as the town is populated mostly by elderly women facing the modernisations that England was embarking in at the time. There’s of course the social element ever present in these stories, but it’s nonetheless a fun read and quite different (I think) from many of her other works.
  • Ruth (review) — I read this book more recently and omg, the feels. Definitely on the bleaker side of life with everything that Ruth has to deal with and suffer, but it’s an eye-opening read on both a major social stigma at the time as well as the different reactions and perspectives on the subject. But don’t despair too much on the bleakness, there are moments of hope, not to mention it’s just such a read–I personally couldn’t put it down, I was wholly engrossed in Ruth’s journey.

I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s books for the first time! What’s your favourite Elizabeth Gaskell novel? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?

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10 Responses to “So You Want to Read… (Elizabeth Gaskell)”

  1. I don’t know if I’ll read another Gaskell book. I didn’t like the ending of North and South. It was so unsatisfying. If I could be promised that her others books ended more satisfactorily, then I might give her aother try, lol.

    • lol I dunno if I can promise satisfactory endings (unless sad endings count šŸ˜‰ ). I would say Cranford but those are more vignettes/short stories so that doesn’t really count. I do have Sylvia’s Lovers on queue so we’ll see about that…

      I still recommend watching the BBC’s Wives and Daughters though as they did a good job in wrapping up the book šŸ™‚

  2. Ah, I love this post! So far, North & South is the only one I’ve read, but I would love to read more at some point. I have seen the Cranford and Wives & Daughters series and I’d like to compare them to her stories. It’s just a matter of time before I do šŸ™‚

    I’ve heard Ruth can be a bit sad or dark, but now I’m intrigued!

    • Aww, thanks! Yeah, Ruth is sad and deals with some very serious issues but it was definitely an interesting and thought-provoking read šŸ™‚

  3. As is typical for me, I’ve not read any of Elizabeth Gaskell’s books (I know…), but I do adore all of the miniseries adaptations. Speaking of which, I so should rewatch them all again, most especially “North and South.” šŸ˜‰

  4. I’m sure you know by now that I’ve read (and loved!) N&S. šŸ™‚ I’ve been interested to read more of her books, but haven’t yet. I currently own Wives and Daughters, so perhaps I’ll try that one sometime soon! And you are so right, the adaptation of that one is simply delightful! I need to rewatch it, it’s been ages.

    • Same here re-watching the miniseries & re-reading the book–it’s been too long! Have fun reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives & Daughters and her other books! šŸ˜€

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