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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (15,293 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Gaskell Narrator: Josephine Bailey Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9781452670584
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Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell’s last novel, is regarded by many as her masterpiece. Molly Gibson is the daughter of the doctor in the small provincial town of Hollingford. Her widowed father marries a second time to give Molly the woman’s presence he feels she lacks, but until the arrival of Cynthia, her dazzling stepsister, Molly finds her situation hard to accept. Intertwined with the story of the Gibsons is that of Squire Hamley and his two sons. As Molly grows up and falls in love, she learns to judge people for what they are, not what they seem.

Through Molly’s observations the hierarchies, social values, and social changes of early-nineteenth-century English life are made vivid in a novel that is timeless in its representation of human relationships.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ginny | 2/19/2014

    " Not so much about wives---Mrs. Gibson reminded me of Mrs. Olsen on Little House on the Prairie. I could almost hear her voice in the dialogue. The daughters were so different---one a flirt, selfish, and unfeeling. The other was quiet, sensitive and extremely kind. After 600 plus pages, I was relieved to reach the end and it didn't matter that the author died before the book was finished because it was such a continuing story. This book was written as a serial, to be read in installments. Too bad books aren't published like that anymore. I know I'd be running to the bookstore for the next volume to satisfy my book fever! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kailey | 2/18/2014

    " Marvelous! Wonderful! Such a pity that it remained unfinished, b/c the whole thing is just so.... there aren't words to describe how lovely. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peachy | 2/8/2014

    " This was the first Gaskell I read, and it was a wonderful introduction. Though 'North and South' is my favorite, this is a definite re-read, I even liked the movie! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie Bollard | 2/6/2014

    " It really is too bad that Ms. Gaskill didn't live to finish this novel. She only had a chapter left. And even though her editor knew the gist of what would happen in the story, it's not quite the same as reading it straight from her pen. In the beginning of the story, I absolutely hated Hycinth. She is a liar and makes poor Molly look bad. I cringed when I learned that she was to become Molly's step-mother. But even though she still lies, schemes, and plots, Molly is not affected by her because she chooses not to be and because everyone already knows that she's a liar. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandy | 2/5/2014

    " This victorian novel aptly explores the most basic of human relationships: mother to daughter, sister to sister, and father to daughter. The story centers on the effects of a country physician's decision to marry to provide a mother to his teenage daughter and how their family is altered by his decision. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer Beckstead | 2/3/2014

    " I would have rated it higher, but my kindle was missing the end of the book, so I didn't actually get to finish. :( "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Karen Hogan | 2/3/2014

    " I really hoped that I would like this novel, but I just couldnt get into it. It started off too slow for my tastes and didnt capture my interest. After reading the other reviews, I realized that the author died before finishing the book and it was completed by someone else. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly Fields | 2/3/2014

    " A fun read, rather reminiscent of Jane Austen's writing style. Wives and Daughters is much less dark than Gaskell's North and South (also an excellent book). In wives and daughters, Gaskell explores the relationship between Molly Gibson, her beautiful stepsister, Cynthia, and their silly stepmother/mother, Clare. Be forewarned, though, that the book is very long. It's also unfinished, which I didn't realize when I started. Apparently Gaskell died before finishing the last couple of chapters, so the reader is left hanging. It's pretty easy to guess where she was going with it, although disappointing not to know for sure. Worth the read, but make sure you have a lot of time to read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby | 2/2/2014

    " For Jane Austen fans. A leisurely read that I could pick up and put down, but that I was never tempted to give up on. I read it over several months - and felt like I was spending time with good friends each time I picked it up again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roselyn | 2/2/2014

    " Good book, except the author died before finishing and it ends right at the most important part at the end...leaving you to make your own ending, but disappointing to read all that way and have no conclusion. Check out the BBC movie, however--I really liked that. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Megan R | 1/29/2014

    " The only bad part about this book is that the author died before she wrote the last chapter. Literally, she only needs ONE more to tie up everything. But I loved the story and I was very much looking forward to the end which is why I was so disappointed when it didn't come. Great character development! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachael Bermingham | 1/29/2014

    " I love Elizabeth Gaskell's books and this one is no exception. Her characters are so well drawn they leap off the pages plus the plots are always excellently constructed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Louise Christie | 1/27/2014

    " Good with flashes of brilliance. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clare Cannon | 1/19/2014

    " Gaskell paints a deeply nuanced picture of the lives of several characters in late 19th century England. Her exquisite writing shows a profound understanding of human nature and relationships and a sensitive appreciation of the social struggles of her period. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynne | 1/16/2014

    " I can't remember enjoying reading a book so much in a long time. This was pure delight. If you like Jane Austen, read Elizabeth Gaskell! Charming, very funny, uplifting, romantic and overall just so great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kasey | 1/15/2014

    " I just finished this and if you like Jane Austen and books about small town life in England, where everyone knows everyone's business and reputations can be destroyed in an instant, you may appreciate this book. It takes place in the 1800s and was VERY popular at the time. The author died before the book was finished - only the last chapter was yet to be written, but you know what the last chapter contains. Well-drawn characters. I now want to read more by Gaskell. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mel | 1/6/2014

    " This book was very long and I found myself wishing for more to happen. It seemed to drag on a little and I didn't enjoy the characters as much as her other stories I've read and there seemed to be a lack of tragedy in it. Saying that however, my favorite character did die early on and she was fantastic. I enjoyed the Hamleys, and Lady Harriet and whenever people showed up to put "Clare" in her place. I think the weakest character was Molly who while she started off quite adventuresome and forthright she mostly petered out into a typical good and mild girl. It was sad that Mrs. Gaskell died before she finished the book and sad that she died so young. There were some very touching moments in the story I just think it would have benefited from being more concise. Still I will continue to read more of her novels as I still think she is a great author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Abbey | 1/4/2014

    " Saw the BBC 4-part miniseries - ravishing photography, great storytelling, good editing down to make it fit in time allotted. Elizabeth Gaskell is better than Jane Austen. There. I said it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenni Buckley | 1/1/2014

    " The whole time I was reading this book, I felt like I was reading Austen. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves Jane Austen novels. It's very witty and romantic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katelyn | 12/30/2013

    " The book starts off a little slow but then once I got into it I enjoyed it. I wish there was more to it to read! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rcknoebel3729 | 12/25/2013

    " I gave up on this book. It was originally written as a serial with monthly updates. I guess it's the 1866 version of a soap opera. And while it may have had readers in the 19th century clamoring for more, it doesn't keep readers in 2011 on the edge of their seats. It just went on & on & on. . . If the author hadn't died, who know how long it would have gone on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samm | 12/16/2013

    " Even though Gaskell never finish the ending of this book, I loved reading it. I also like how the movie took what was in this book and created a very pleasing ending that would have matched the way this book was written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shwride | 12/16/2013

    " This book would get 5 stars because the story is wonderful, but the author died before she finished it. I was extremely frustrated. They should really put a disclaimer on the cover. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy Roberts | 12/14/2013

    " Satisfying read...a little overly dramatic at times...character of Cynthia was very interesting...one of those women of that era who was trapped between the coming modern age and the time of Victorian rules and morals. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Muki | 12/8/2013

    " Although I loved the Molly, I thought Roger was lacking. The book is incomplete so we'll never know how things would have panned out for them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin T | 11/26/2013

    " It's hard to put into words my feelings of this book. I loved the style of writing, the story line, the unique characters, the feelin of leaving reality and being caught up in another world. In a word? Sigh. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anthea | 11/14/2013

    " A lovely story of love and family. Witty and heart warming. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valerie | 11/10/2013

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were quite real as people. The unfinished ending was unfortunate, but it allowed me to create the ending I wished without disappointment. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kailey | 10/27/2013

    " Marvelous! Wonderful! Such a pity that it remained unfinished, b/c the whole thing is just so.... there aren't words to describe how lovely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tiffany Flory | 10/17/2013

    " i really liked the book. i was sorry the author died before finishing the book though. i have found that i really like this author, so i will be looking up what else she has written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annaliese Lemmon | 9/12/2013

    " I didn't realize that this book wasn't finished when Gaskell died when I read this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara | 9/11/2013

    " A fabulous read! Almost as good as Jane Austen! My only disappointment is that this is an unfinished novel so one is left hanging at the end wondering how Mrs. Gaskell would have resolved the story. Happily, I hope. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ursula | 9/7/2013

    " I got bored. I had no desire to finish this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 9/3/2013

    " Excellent. I loved this book, but it ended so oddly, it just stopped... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Lambert | 8/18/2013

    " I loved this book but, Gaskell died before she finished it. I didn't realize that little fact while I was reading the novel and when I came to the end I wanted to die! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clare Cannon | 7/29/2013

    " Gaskell paints a deeply nuanced picture of the lives of several characters in late 19th century England. Her exquisite writing shows a profound understanding of human nature and relationships and a sensitive appreciation of the social struggles of her period. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miss Ginny Tea | 7/26/2013

    " Oh, book! It's absolutely *lovely*. But eek, the missing ending. It's kind of heartbreaking that the book cuts off where it does, but in a bizarre way, it's kind of perfect that it ends with Mrs. Gibson being Mrs. Gibson. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melody | 5/7/2013

    " My heart will forever be tender for Molly Gibson. She grows and faces such challenges with dignity and grace. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aari Ludvigsen | 3/15/2013

    " I went on a Gaskell tear & read almost her whole oeuvre (ghost stories aside) on Stanza and this book is just marvelous, should be much more well known, an absolutely delightful masterpiece of 19th c. fiction. Her detail & realism & humor are fresh & winning to a modern ear. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurel | 3/1/2013

    " 19th century fiction in the vein of Jane Austen. The BBC version is good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pattieb | 2/7/2013

    " Complex, realistic characters - much more interesting than Jane Austen's. The only weak point for me is the heroine. Too many tears! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anika | 12/13/2012

    " Another yummy book in the Pride & Prejudice genre (that's Victorian right?). Gaskell didn't finish the ending so get your imagination ready. I just love Molly Gibson's character. This was another one that I discovered because of a movie--loved em both! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cici | 9/18/2012

    " I really enjoyed the description of society and how they dealt with scandal. The romance was just enough. Nothing too heavy "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 8/14/2012

    " Lovely book, albeit long. So sad that Mrs. Gaskell died before finishing it. Would have loved to know what she intended for the heroine. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 7/9/2012

    " I'd like to give this book a 3.5, as it vacillated between slow moving and page turning. I wish I had known the author died before writing the last chapter, but enough was known of her plans to not leave the reader hanging. After 520 pages though, it was a bit disappointing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katelyn | 6/18/2012

    " The book starts off a little slow but then once I got into it I enjoyed it. I wish there was more to it to read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathie | 6/18/2012

    " A contemporary of Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell had a rare talent, one that might rival both Dickens and Austen had she a bit more sense of humor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamie Cope | 5/31/2012

    " Saw the adaptation of this sweet novel prior to reading and was intrigued enough to want the entire story. Highly recommended to those who follow Austen, Elliott, etc. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Allison Tyler | 5/4/2012

    " a contemporary of Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell explores the class structure in England but from within the relationships of families in general and woman in particular--love this novel! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Saltlakecityhardys | 3/27/2012

    " My husband commented "you sure devoured that book" when it was read in just a few days. The social rules of England make for some interesting reading. Add a love triangle and it amounts to speedy reading to see how the story unfolds. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Susan | 3/17/2012

    " It was slow and I didn't like the ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristina | 2/18/2012

    " Similar style to Jane Austen. Enjoyable story and amazing grasp of characters. Loved it! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Claire | 1/27/2012

    " A bit too mannered for modern taste, I think. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 K1 | 1/5/2012

    " While this book took me forever to read, I really enjoyed it. I like Gaskell's style, each time I picked it up, it felt comfortable and familiar, and I was genuinely interested in what would happen next. Good stuff. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Britt | 1/2/2012

    " Well-written portrait of society and love. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mj | 12/24/2011

    " Loved this book but was really dissapointed when I got to the end and realized it's unfinished because the author abruptly died while writing it. It's still a great book but if you commit to reading the over 1,000 pages, be prepared that it doesn't have an ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Oriana | 10/14/2011

    " Not the same cover but ISBN is correct. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michele | 10/13/2011

    " I read this book after seeing the wonderful mini-series - both are excellent! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eva | 10/9/2011

    " The character development is not nearly as compelling as in North and South, and of course it is frustrating that the work remains unfinished. I suppose I can always turn to the ending of the BBC adaptation for solace, though! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelby Stafford | 9/19/2011

    " To bad Gaskell died before finishing the book. Bad note to end on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Corinne Tr | 8/19/2011

    " Too bad it doesn,t have a proper end.. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jennifer Farr | 6/3/2011

    " I have only ever NOT finished 6 books in my whole life. Maybe someday I will pick this book up again, but I could not get into it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MaryLynn | 5/22/2011

    " The book starts very slowly, but if you love 19th century British novels, you will love this. Gaskell is very skillful in drawing her characters, and I really enjoyed getting to know the players in this overly long drama. I will definitely read more books by Gaskell. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 5/16/2011

    " It took me awhile to get into this book, but now that I'm into it, I find it very enjoyable, It's always fun to read a book with a character in it that has your name. I just wish that "Cynthia" was more like Molly in the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becca | 5/11/2011

    " Be warned, the book ends suddenly because Elizabeth Gaskell died before finishing it. That was the only thing I disliked about this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynner12 | 5/1/2011

    " i loved this book....i was really sad when i got to the back of the book and found that the author died before she was able to finish it. even without the end it is one of my favorite books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 K.M. | 4/11/2011

    " Simultaneously lush and simple, drawing deep themes and sketching spectacularly complete characters. My only complaint is that the heroine lost some of her "muchness," in comparison to the portrayal in the BBC adaptation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 4/11/2011

    " LbW selection, May, 2009.

    Victorian Goodreads selection, April, 2011.

    Listened to part on CD, but MP3 and didn't work well. Have not really finished reading the entire book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maggie | 4/10/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book. Sadly, it abruptly ends, since the author died. It is still worth reading. There is enough of the conflict resolved that you can gather what will happen and the story is well done. I'd still read it again, knowing there is no ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 exquisitehouse | 4/8/2011

    " One of my favorite reads. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria | 4/7/2011

    " Even though the book was never finished, it definitely has resolution. You feel like the ending is good. It's an enjoyable read--definitely a for-fun book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 4/6/2011

    " I wish she had lived to write the ending I am sure I would have absolutely loved it then. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby | 3/20/2011

    " For Jane Austen fans. A leisurely read that I could pick up and put down, but that I was never tempted to give up on. I read it over several months - and felt like I was spending time with good friends each time I picked it up again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tikabelle | 3/15/2011

    " Mrs. Gibson nee Kirkpatrick is a treasure of a wicked stepmother, and this novel contains that rarest of jewels: a Good Father. Love, love, love. The only thing that would have made this book better is if Mrs. Gaskell had lived to finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sonja | 3/14/2011

    " I forgot it was unfinished, but the author was so close to finishing it that I didn't mind. I really enjoyed the characters. "

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About the Author
Author Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810–1865) was an English novelist and short-story writer born in London and raised in Knutsford, Cheshire, which became the model for village settings in her novels. In 1832 she married William Gaskell, a Unitarian minister. Her first novel, Mary Barton, published in 1848, was immensely popular and brought her to the attention of Charles Dickens, who solicited her work for his periodical, Household Words, for which she wrote the series subsequently reprinted as Cranford.

About the Narrator

Josephine Bailey’s impeccable narrations include the British classics Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden. She has also used her subtly nuanced style to enliven historical fiction and light romances. She has won nine AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award.