In Manchester we are introduced to the Bartons and the Wilsons, two working class families. John Barton reveals himself to be a great questioner of the distribution of wealth and the relation between the rich and the poor. He also relates how his sister-in-law Esther has disappeared after she ran away from home.Soon afterwards Mrs Barton dies, and John is left with his daughter Mary to cope in the harsh world around them. Having already been deeply affected by the loss of his son Tom at a young age, after the death of his wife, Barton tackles depression and begins to involve himself in the Chartist movement connected with the trade unions. (Summary from Wikipedia)
almost visibly fluttered into life; and the willows, which that morning had had only a brown reflection in the water below, were now of that tender grey-green which blends so delicately with the spring harmony of colours.
Groups of merry and somewhat loud-talking girls, whose ages might range from twelve to twenty, came by with a buoyant step. They were most of them factory girls, and wore the usual out-of-doors dress of that particular class of maidens; namely, a shawl, which at midday or in fine weather was allowed to be merely a shawl, but towards evening, if the day was chilly, became a sort of Spanish mantilla or Scotch plaid, and was brought over the head and hung loosely down, or was pinned under the chin in no unpicturesque fashion.
Their faces were not remarkable for beauty; indeed, they were below the average, with one or two exceptions; they had dark hair, neatly and classically arranged, dark eyes, but sallow complexions and irregular features. The only thing to strike a passer-by was an a
Worst book i have ever read. Can't believe this is a novel.
Almost alone among all major Victorian novelists, Ms. Gaskell deals with the lives of the poor and downtrodden - their lives, hopes, etc. While there have been better writers, few depict rural England in a more realistic manner than Elizabeth Gaskell.
A complex and troubled love story set amid the labor disputes of the Manchester, England, cotton mills in the mid-19th century, with many parallels to today:
As the earnings of the working classes drop and the price of their food rises ... "though it may take much suffering to kill the able-bodied and effective members of society, it does NOT take much to reduce them to worn, listless, diseased creatures, who thenceforward crawl through life with moody hearts and pain-stricken bodies."
It's a little slow moving in parts, but Gaskell's vivid descriptions and strong characterizations of the suffering, poverty-stricken workers, desperate women and arrogant wealthy "masters" are riveting. Throughout, the characters are multilayered and very human and the plot compelling.