Saturday, August 13, 2011

34/365 Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell


Okay.  Deep breaths.  I'll start at the beginning.  I have to warn you though - spoilers are probably going to ensue.  I can't help it.

I love North and South.  As I believe I've mentioned before, I like it so much that I was almost afraid of reading any of Elizabeth Gaskell's other books and not enjoying them as much.  Silly, but there it is.  Anyways, I started watching the mini-series of Wives and Daughters a few days ago and couldn't stop.  I had to stay up till two to finish it.  I had to know what happened.  And afterwards I decided to read the book, expecting to enjoy it very much indeed.

(I liked the mini-series very much, by the way.  Everybody was well cast.  Rosamund Pike is sort of a genius, I think.  It's weird seeing so many people from the Jane Austen family - all the movies, I mean - all in other movies together.  Also, very weird hearing Mr. Preston speak - I've heard him before in an Agatha Christie radio mystery in which he was the murderer.  It biased me against him from the start.)

I just finished it maybe three minutes ago.  And, up to the last chapter, I did enjoy it very much indeed.  But that LAST CHAPTER!

I'll be honest with you, blog.  I feel cheated when an Agatha Christie novel doesn't have a wedding at the end.  There are some books that I like to have sad endings - but when I go in for cheap entertainment, I am completely shameless in my desire for happy, CLEAR endings.  Sorry to shout at you in all caps, but I did so want a nice little "happy ever after" scene at the end - not stupid Mrs. Gibson!

I wonder what I would have thought of it if I hadn't seen an alternate ending beforehand.  Hm.

Nope, I gave it a moment's thought and I know I would still have been disappointed.  Yes, I like my fun reading cheap.  But after 500 pages!  Just throw me some kind of bone!

I promise, I did like it.  But I have to vent a bit.

Okay, I think Mrs. Gibson is without exception the most horrifying stepmother I've ever read.  She absolutely makes my skin crawl.  At least with the downright wicked stepmothers you can hate them and look forward to the inevitable day when the fairy-tale laws of retribution catch up with them and they are blinded or sent to do laundry for the rest of their lives.  Mrs. Gibson scares me a million times more than any wicked stepmothers - I believe that she could really exist.  She is completely believable.  I mean, you see similar bits of behavior all the time.  I'll hand it to Elizabeth Gaskell, she could write realistic people.  I don't know who I loathe more, Mrs. Gibson or Mary Musgrove.

CONCLUSION:  It was excellent, but I am rather frustrated.  In an hour I'll be fine and probably up for Cranford, but right now I could shriek.  I am doing so in my mind.

TWO DAYS LATER:  Okay, I really did like this book.  I guess it did sort of, like, make an impression on me.  I guess it, like, makes me want to be a more straightforward person.  And have better posture.  So, like, yeah.

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