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Customer Review

on 12 June 2001
Gaskell`s first novel "Mary Barton" (1848) is a tragedy set in nineteenth century Manchester. The plot revolves around the eponymous heroine, and her choice of lover, on one hand ,wealthy Henry Carson, and on the other, a working- class family friend,Jem Wilson.The central theme,however, is the yawning chasm between the lifestyle of the prosperous, and that of the poverty-stricken.Gaskell paints a very bleak picture of death,endemic disease and misery, and those familiar with Engel`s "Condition of the Working Class in England" will be treading a familiar path.Allied to social and political comment, elements which lead to a virtual banning of the book upon publication,there is the melodrama of the Victorian romantic novel in all its glory, and some genuinely moving moments, handled with great skill and sensitivity.Ultimately a message of "the masters suffer as well" comes through but Mary Barton has many miles of misery to walk through before she can walk out into the sunshine.
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