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it's not a comfortable read, but it does bring this period of ...
on 24 December 2015
This is a long read, so don't be too impatient with the plot. It is set in Manchester around the 1840s, and I would advise anyone to prepare for it by reading Engels's description of the same area in the same era, "The Condition of the working class in England in1844", which is a free is a free download on Kindle, and gives a factual description based on evidence and extensive personal research. Where Engels gives a factual account, Elizabeth Gaskell adds flesh to the bones by setting strongly drawn characters and a dramatic plot in this dire part of England. As such, it's not a comfortable read, but it does bring this period of history to life. The plot is somewhat melodramatic in parts - it is after all a Victorian novel written within the stylistic conventions of the time. If you have read "Cranford", and enjoyed it, you will find this book very different, but don't let that stop you reading it. Gaskell comes across as a very caring person, in part struggling to see a way forward in the conflicting interests of labour and factory owners, with both of whom she has some sympathy in their relative situations. In the end, she seems to fall back on everybody being nicer to each other, and though that's always a good plan, you may find the political element slightly naive.