Top critical review
A good romance with serious undertones but poorly proof read
on 10 May 2015
This is where the reviewer needs two different star ratings, one for the author and one for the eBook. I would have given the author 4 stars and the eBook 2 stars, so I have averaged out at 3 stars.
This love story is set during the industrial revolution in England. It tells of a young woman who was born and bred in the south (the New Forest and London) and moves north with her parents to the fictional industrial town of Milton. To say what happens to the protagonists would be to spoil your enjoyment, but the style is highly charged throughout, unreservedly emotional and bordering on the melodramatic. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading it and was always keen to pursue the next phase of the plot.
Elizabeth Gaskell's style has some irritating features. Each chapter is headed by a quotation. I can not understand the purpose of this. If it gives away what is about to happen, it should be avoided, and if it does not, it seems a waste of time. Perhaps the literary convention of the period was to show off in this way, but I recommend skipping over the quotations and just reading the main text.
There are a few sections of text that are not in English. Gaskell assumes that the reader is sufficiently well educated to be able to translate these - I was not. There are no footnotes or editorial additions to provide the missing translation, so whatever they meant was completely lost on me.
Sometimes the author contrives a conversation between two or more of the characters in which she seems to be presenting her own theories on the advantages and disadvantages of industrialised manufacturing. The dialogue does not ring true in the mouths of the people involved and certainly does not advance the action of the story.
Furthermore, from time to time, the author does not make it clear who is speaking, so the reader has to carry on regardless, hoping to pick up a contextual clue, or has to backtrack to try and work it out.
I do not know if the novel was incomplete, but the ending is extremely abrupt and rather unsatisfactory in my opinion.
The eBook is not the worst I have encountered but it comes close. I suppose it is unfair to criticise a book that costs nothing, but I found 57 proof reading errors and there were more that I did not bother with. The most annoying problem is caused by using single quote to delimit speech and then omitting the opening or the closing single quote. This means that the reader can not always tell when a character has started speaking or stopped speaking.
I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a good romance with serious undertones, and is interested in the social conventions and attitudes of the time. However, you might find it less frustrating to spend more money on a better edited eBook.