Wives and Daughters


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Novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published serially in the Cornhill Magazine (August 1864-January 1866) and then in book form in 1866; it was unfinished at the time of her death in November 1865. Known as her last, longest, and perhaps finest work, it concerns the interlocking fortunes of several families in the country town of Hollingford. Wives and Daughters chronicles the maturation of Molly Gibson, a sincere young woman whose widowed father, the town doctor, marries Hyacinth Kirkpatrick, a charming but petty widow and former governess in the household of Lord Cumnor. Although Molly resents her stepmother, she befriends her stepsister Cynthia, who is secretly engaged to Lord Cumnor's land agent, Mr. Preston. Molly is warmly received at the home of Squire Hamley and his disabled wife. The Hamleys' two sons are Osborne, a clever but shallow man who marries unwisely and dies young, and Roger, an honest scientist who eventually marries Molly after being engaged to Cynthia, who ultimately weds a London barrister.

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Recent Forum Posts on Wives and Daughters

theme of provincial

i'm studying this novel in my college and the professor asked us to prepare a comment about the theme of provincial (why she is a provincial character ).. so can anyone help me ?


Who is Lady Tranmere?

I had seen Wives And Daughters BBC adaptation and liked it. Now trying to read the book on my own, I immediatly encounter some questions; I hope someone here can help me; I'd really appreciate it! In chapter one, Mr. Gisbson went to ‘the Towers’ to ask for Lady Comnor’s invitation to Molly: "He saw his patient, gave his directions to the housekeeper, and then went out, with a rare wild- flower in his hand, to find one of the ladies Tranmere in the garden, where, according to his hope and calculation, he came upon Lady Cumnor too--now talking to her daughter about the contents of an open letter which she held in her hand, now directing a gardener about certain bedding-out plants." I wonder if Tranmere is the last name of a character in this book. And, what is a bedding-out plant?


I enjoyed Wives and Daughters a lot.

This book, which came out originally as a series for a magazine and then turned into a complete book is a very readable and charming look backwards to a time that exists only in what we read. All the colloquialisms and so forth were explained. Now I know what sitting bodkin means! This book is a wonderful timepiece into 1866 or so. Cynthia, Osborn, The Squire, Mr. Hamley, Molly and Mr. Gibson and the rest of the cast of characters are wonderful, but this is kind of like a lady's book. I am not trying to be chauvinistic/feminist but I don't think that men would like this book as much as women. Please don't sue me.


No Subject

I did enjoy this novel, despite the lack of ending. Unfortunately I saw the movie first (a classic). Gaskell's writing style reminds me very much of Jane Austen's with a lot of the same characteristics. I had a very hard time at first understanding Molly's immediate liking to Cynthia, considering Cynthia's background and present selfishness. She is completely unlike Molly. But I guess that Molly's was more of a sisterly love where she wanted to do anything for her. I never liked Mr. Preston (of course!). And Hyacinth absolutely makes me want to kill her. I consider her the antagonist of the novel. I suppose her father did have to live with the consequences, but I would have been perfectly happy if she had died off at the end of the novel. I was disappointed that there was no ending, but it was well worth reading just the same.


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