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26 Reviews
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary Barton
This novel is not for those without reading stamina and resilience yet it rewards those with both. It is a densely written work dealing with the trials of life in the industrial landscape of Manchester when to be a "have not" meant just that; the necessity to go without food, warmth, and any comfort when workers were laid off. Elizabeth Gaskell depicts a loving family...
Published 20 months ago by Poll H.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dickens without the humour
A good representation of poverty in a Victorian mill town, but therefore quite depressing. None of the characters provided any light relief, as is the case with Dickens.
Published 16 months ago by amemfajael


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary Barton, 8 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Mary Barton (Kindle Edition)
This novel is not for those without reading stamina and resilience yet it rewards those with both. It is a densely written work dealing with the trials of life in the industrial landscape of Manchester when to be a "have not" meant just that; the necessity to go without food, warmth, and any comfort when workers were laid off. Elizabeth Gaskell depicts a loving family wracked by the travails of daily poverty, whose humanity is tested to the limit. She has great sympathy for those whose lives are so hard and she depicts totally believable characters. She addresses issues still of concern to us today. But this is not a tract - we care about these people. Mary grows in moral strength in spite of her circumstances and Jem is a worthy hero. This is ultimately an engaging, very sad and illuminating read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social commentary on the Victorian age, 13 Nov 2011
This review is from: Mary Barton (Kindle Edition)
I have just re-read Mary Barton. Elizabeth Gaskell has an obvious sympathy for the industrial poor. In Esther we have a warning of what Mary Barton would have become had she not been more fortunate than her aunt. The story is well written and the meaning of any dialect words which are unfamiliar are easy to understand within the context they are placed. Mrs Gaskell writes very matter-of-factly of the conditions of the day, which make them more convincing than if they were sensationalised. I was not convinced that the elder Mr Carson would have had any sympathy for or understanding of the motives for the perpertrator of the crime against his son, but overall I enjoyed the book and will read more by Elizabeth Gaskell.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Gaskell Book, 29 May 2013
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This review is from: Mary Barton (Kindle Edition)
This is, in my opinion, the best Gaskell novel. Characters are beautifully formed, three dimensional and utterly human. Its is a gritty social commentary without feeling anything like a dull history lesson. The plot is skilful, relentless and always surprising. A really, really great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, 29 Nov 2012
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This is a fabulous tale of the working class, showing you exactly how life was back in the days of the chartists. It follows the life of Mary and her father John, shows the ups and downs of Mary;s love life. It is a must have for any classics books collectors. Wonderful story and wonderful language.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A promising first novel!, 12 Sep 2013
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Square Peg (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mary Barton (Kindle Edition)
Elizabeth Gaskell is not so well known as she should be. As a chronicler of the plight of the factory workers in 19th century Manchester she manages to be clear-sighted about their poverty and degradation and yet never forgets the common humanity which binds master and worker alike. If it lacks the genius prose style of Dickens or the emotional complexity of Bronte, it is still to be valued as a testament and a warning from history of the consequences of ignoring the responsibility we all have for each other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dickens without the humour, 25 Mar 2013
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A good representation of poverty in a Victorian mill town, but therefore quite depressing. None of the characters provided any light relief, as is the case with Dickens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 23 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Mary Barton (Kindle Edition)
I had to read this for university, and I'm really glad I did. It is really interesting to see how graphically Gaskell explains life in the slums, and all of the death is quite upsetting too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Barton, 2 Feb 2013
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An old favourite that I felt I needed to re-read so was delighted to find it on the Kindle listing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, creates atmosphere of its era so well., 24 Dec 2012
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Have re-read this for the first time since school. I understand the lives and stress of the characters so much better now. Will be doing same with a few more old favourites soon.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quite gripping and stirring novel about 19th century poverty in Manchester, 23 Jun 2014
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mary Barton (Kindle Edition)
This is a novel about the life of two working class families, the Bartons and the Wilsons, in early 19th century Manchester. It tells vividly of the poverty they experience, and the precariousness of their lives, depending on the success of their "masters", dropping down into destitution and starvation when work is lacking. A lot of people in both families die through illness and the effects of destitution in this novel and the depiction of poverty, alcoholism and prostitution (named here as such) is much more vivid than the circumlocutions and vague allusions that often appear in literature of this period. The core plot of the novel revolves around the murder of rich young Harry Carson, who is pursuing and wooing the eponymous daughter of a factory worker, John Barton; and she is also loved by Jem Wilson, with whom she grew up as a friend. Wilson is arrested and tried for the murder. There is a search for a person who can provide an alibi, and the trial itself is a very tense and dramatic piece of writing, unfortunately tarnished by the verdict of the trial appearing in the title of the relevant chapter. Following that verdict, the last few chapters provide a fairly satisfying tying up of loose ends and some final disputation between employers and employees about the causes of and possible solutions for poverty; Gaskell has quite a good way of presenting the arguments of both sides in a way that isn't crudely partisan, while the themes of the novel show that her basic sympathies are with the poor. A stirring novel, with some interesting characters (though as so often the title character isn't really one of the more interesting characters).
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Mary Barton by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
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