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Ruth: Illustrated Platinum Edition (Free Audiobook Included)

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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Ruth is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in three volumes in 1853.Ruth is a young How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Ruth is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in three volumes in 1853.Ruth is a young orphan girl working in a respectable sweatshop for the overworked Mrs Mason. She is selected to go to a ball to repair torn dresses. At the ball she meets the aristocratic Henry Bellingham, a rake figure who is instantly attracted to her. They meet again by chance and form a secret friendship; on an outing together they are spotted by Mrs Mason who, fearing for her shop's reputation, dismisses Ruth. Alone in the world, Ruth is whisked away by Bellingham to London where it is implied she becomes a fallen woman. They go on holiday to Wales together and there on a country walk Ruth meets the disabled and kind Mr Benson. Bellingham falls sick with fever and the hotel calls for his mother who arrives and is disgusted by her son's having lived in sin with Ruth. Bellingham is persuaded by his mother to abandon Ruth in Wales, leaving her some money. A distraught Ruth attempts suicide but is spotted by Mr Benson who helps comfort her. When he learns of her past and that she is alone he brings her back to his home town, where he is a Dissenting minister, to stay with him and his formidable but kind sister Faith. When they learn that Ruth is pregnant they decide to lie to the town and claim that she is a widow called Mrs Denbigh, to protect her from a society which would otherwise shun her. Ruth has her baby, whom she names Leonard. She is transformed into a Madonna type figure, calm and innocent once more. The rich local businessman Mr Bradshaw admires Ruth and employs her as a governess for his children, including his eldest daughter Jemima who is in awe of the beautiful Ruth. Ruth goes away with the Bradshaws to a seaside house while one of Mr Bradshaw's children is convalescing from a long illness. Mr Bradshaw brings Mr Donne, a man whom he is sponsoring to become their local MP, to the seaside to impress him. Ruth recognises Mr Donne as actually being Mr Bellingham and the two have a confrontation on the beach. Bellingham offers to marry Ruth as he claims he still loves her and for the sake of their child, Ruth rejects him saying she will not let Leonard come in contact with a man like him.


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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Ruth is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in three volumes in 1853.Ruth is a young How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Ruth is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in three volumes in 1853.Ruth is a young orphan girl working in a respectable sweatshop for the overworked Mrs Mason. She is selected to go to a ball to repair torn dresses. At the ball she meets the aristocratic Henry Bellingham, a rake figure who is instantly attracted to her. They meet again by chance and form a secret friendship; on an outing together they are spotted by Mrs Mason who, fearing for her shop's reputation, dismisses Ruth. Alone in the world, Ruth is whisked away by Bellingham to London where it is implied she becomes a fallen woman. They go on holiday to Wales together and there on a country walk Ruth meets the disabled and kind Mr Benson. Bellingham falls sick with fever and the hotel calls for his mother who arrives and is disgusted by her son's having lived in sin with Ruth. Bellingham is persuaded by his mother to abandon Ruth in Wales, leaving her some money. A distraught Ruth attempts suicide but is spotted by Mr Benson who helps comfort her. When he learns of her past and that she is alone he brings her back to his home town, where he is a Dissenting minister, to stay with him and his formidable but kind sister Faith. When they learn that Ruth is pregnant they decide to lie to the town and claim that she is a widow called Mrs Denbigh, to protect her from a society which would otherwise shun her. Ruth has her baby, whom she names Leonard. She is transformed into a Madonna type figure, calm and innocent once more. The rich local businessman Mr Bradshaw admires Ruth and employs her as a governess for his children, including his eldest daughter Jemima who is in awe of the beautiful Ruth. Ruth goes away with the Bradshaws to a seaside house while one of Mr Bradshaw's children is convalescing from a long illness. Mr Bradshaw brings Mr Donne, a man whom he is sponsoring to become their local MP, to the seaside to impress him. Ruth recognises Mr Donne as actually being Mr Bellingham and the two have a confrontation on the beach. Bellingham offers to marry Ruth as he claims he still loves her and for the sake of their child, Ruth rejects him saying she will not let Leonard come in contact with a man like him.

30 review for Ruth: Illustrated Platinum Edition (Free Audiobook Included)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    It's funny; Gaskell's novels seems to me to be what everyone thinks of as a "Victorian novel," and yet she is not really read or taught widely. Just a thought. Unlike some of the other readers, I did not love the character of Ruth. A lot of people say that Victorian heroines are always too good to be true, and I can see that point, but Ruth seriously is too good... in my opinion, too good to be very attached to as a reader. The narrator and Mr. Benson keep saying she has faults, but her faults It's funny; Gaskell's novels seems to me to be what everyone thinks of as a "Victorian novel," and yet she is not really read or taught widely. Just a thought. Unlike some of the other readers, I did not love the character of Ruth. A lot of people say that Victorian heroines are always too good to be true, and I can see that point, but Ruth seriously is too good... in my opinion, too good to be very attached to as a reader. The narrator and Mr. Benson keep saying she has faults, but her faults seem to be that she is too proud to accept gifts or handouts and that she is overprotective of her son. These are the kinds of faults that you give when you're asked on your job interview what your shortcomings are -- they are, in a sense, strengths disguised as faults. (Or maybe one reason I don't like Ruth as a character, though, is because of her masochistic insistence on beating herself up over one mistake, a trait that is uncomfortably familiar to me.) Of course, her real fault is that she is a "fallen woman," which is exactly why Gaskell made her so unrealistically good and pure -- she had to make Ruth perfect in order to show that she was unfairly punished for one mistake she made in her youth. I understand this, but it makes it hard for me, as a modern reader, to be interested in her as a character. My favorite characters are Jemima, Ruth's younger, more rebellious, more flawed friend, and Sally, the housekeeper who seems a bit like a Dickens character. One thing that was really interesting about this particular fallen woman story, though, is that Ruth is not raped (like Tess), nor is she flirtatious (like Hetty Sorrel). She seems to really love Bellingham at the beginning, and though Gaskell does hint that Ruth's romantic fantasies are part of her mistake, she is not a silly girl, only innocent. Ruth really doesn't seem to see anything wrong with living with Bellingham as a "kept" woman until other people make her feel it's wrong, and she never suggests or seems to think they will marry. In addition, unlike Hetty, Ruth is able to be taken back into society in a way -- though certainly she can never have another sexual or romantic relationship. In her own way, Gaskell makes a stronger case for the "fallen woman" than Eliot or Hardy, despite the fact that the latter two are (arguably, I suppose) superior stylists. (Well, and Hetty is, to me, a more interesting character because of her flaws -- and especially her crime.) Another interesting thing is to see the various jobs Ruth has in her life; she is a seamstress, a governess, and a nurse. At one point, she loses her job and Jemima wonders how Ruth will support her son. I've said it before and I'll say it again: anyone who thinks the working woman or single mother is a modern phenomenon has never read 19th century novels or nonfiction. This isn't my favorite Gaskell, but I enjoyed it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I went into Ruth having been told that this was a depressing story. Well, it both is and it isnt. It is a tale about a fallen woman in the Victorian era. She is also an orphan. She is not a prostitute, not even flirtatious, but she is pretty. What the book does remarkably well is put you there in her shoes. More than simply looking at how others see her, this is clearly made evident too, but the reader also experiences her world from her perspective which is of course strongly influenced by her I went into Ruth having been told that this was a depressing story. Well, it both is and it isn’t. It is a tale about a fallen woman in the Victorian era. She is also an orphan. She is not a prostitute, not even flirtatious, but she is pretty. What the book does remarkably well is put you there in her shoes. More than simply looking at how others see her, this is clearly made evident too, but the reader also experiences her world from her perspective which is of course strongly influenced by her personality. This woman is the eponymous Ruth of the title. If the story is to be in any way realistic, it has got to be grim. There are, however, a wide array of subsidiary characters. They add depth to the story. Through them one sees events through different angles. There are characters that are kind and wise. Others are ordinary. Others amusing. Their presence lightens the story. What some say are at times extremely funny. Listen to this. Faith is speaking to her brother, Thurston, a good, kind dissenting minister. We watch as one little lie gets bigger and bigger. As explanation and excuse Faith tells us this: “I do think I have a talent for fiction. It is so pleasant to invent and make the incidents dovetail together, and after all if we are to lie, we might as well do it thoroughly or else it is of no use. A bungling lie may be worse than useless, and Thurston, it may be very wrong, but I believe I may enjoy not being fettered by truth.” I like books that mix humor with the sad and wisdom with foolishness and stupidity. Such is reality. This is what Gaskell delivers in her book. Each character has a different personality, and each seems to me to be true to who they are. What they do and what they say fit. Ruth, poor Ruth, she is so meek and so alone in the world, and so the mistakes she makes seem understandable and yeah, forgivable. Her tears well up, again and again. No matter what you think of her, what she does makes sense given her predicament, her situation and her temperament. That she falls for (view spoiler)[Henry (hide spoiler)] is understandable. The love she feels for her (view spoiler)[son (hide spoiler)] may seem excessive but he is ALL she has! Each and every one of the characters make sense to me. Furthermore, as one event follows another, characters morph, they are molded by the events that occur. I was convinced that this was in fact how things could very well happen. There are good things that happen and there are bad things. Some people change and some people don’t, and this is exactly how life really is. Some readers may complain that there is too much talk about religious beliefs. Not being religious myself, this is a complaint I might easily have made, but it didn’t feel this way to me at all. What is being stressed are not religious precepts but instead moral, ethical behavior. Neither is it unreasonable that a minister thinks in the religious way he does. Eve Matheson narrates the audiobook. The narration is topnotch, superb, excellent. She uses different intonations for the different characters, and each and every one is perfect. Maybe my favorite intonation was Sally’s. Sally is the Bensons’ maid! Thurston and Faith are the Bnsons. There are arguments and fights, weeping and cajoling, young characters and old—all are performed with panache. Basically, I liked this book for two reasons. Elizabeth Gaskell has a way with words. She knows how people talk and she invents good dialogues. She can draw a beautiful description of nature. She has the ability to accurately capture a situation and places and people as they really are. The result is that what is drawn is realistic and convincing. The book’s realism is the second reason I like the novel so very much. I came to feel convinced that events could roll out just as they did. Another reason I so like this book is that I saw and felt and experienced another person’s reality, and that person is very different from myself. **************** *Wives and Daughters 4 stars *Ruth 4 stars *North and South 2 stars *Cranford 2 stars *Mr. Harrison's Confessions 1 star *Cousin Phyllis TBR

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    Gaskell as always is brilliant. I love her characterisation and dialogue and Ruth is a fascinating, interesting read, especially in terms of its discussion of morality, gender and sexuality in Victorian society.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Others might have found this book problematic because of all the scriptural references that Mrs. Gaskell quotes but I found it refreshing and loveable. Her writing is very sympathatic towards Ruth although not all of the characters in this novel are near being as Christ-like as Mr. and Miss Benson. Sally the housekeeper kept the humor and a few tears in the book for me but Ruth's character was unmistakable of pure love for all mankind even at her death and her forgiving heart to nurse back the Others might have found this book problematic because of all the scriptural references that Mrs. Gaskell quotes but I found it refreshing and loveable. Her writing is very sympathatic towards Ruth although not all of the characters in this novel are near being as Christ-like as Mr. and Miss Benson. Sally the housekeeper kept the humor and a few tears in the book for me but Ruth's character was unmistakable of pure love for all mankind even at her death and her forgiving heart to nurse back the likes of the scoundrel Mr. Donne and his stupidity and lack of propriety and respect to the opposite sex and towards his own son which I was so glad stayed with the Bensons who could give him the care and education that he deserved whether he be a child born out of wedlock or not. Besides Ruth my other favorite character was Mr. Benson...he had all the right ideas of true christianity even when his whole parrish made the decision to leave his congregation because of Ruth. And he stood by her like a true christian would.

  5. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    Apparently Elizabeth Gaskell took a lot of flak for her heroines, some at least who were less than ideal ladies of their era. Mary Barton of Gaskell's first novel made some poor choices and Ruth here seems to have been a bit naive as well. What the author got in trouble for, faced social censorship* for, in her fiction seems tame by today's standards. Reading other reviews here on Goodreads, more than a few didnt like our little Ruth either but for different reasons. That puzzled me as I guess Apparently Elizabeth Gaskell took a lot of flak for her heroines, some at least who were less than ideal ladies of their era. Mary Barton of Gaskell's first novel made some poor choices and Ruth here seems to have been a bit naive as well. What the author got in trouble for, faced social censorship* for, in her fiction seems tame by today's standards. Reading other reviews here on Goodreads, more than a few didn’t like our little Ruth either but for different reasons. That puzzled me as I guess it never crossed my mind to like or dislike her. I was just concerned with how she was going to survive her predicament. Ruth is a The Scarlet Letter-type story. Without giving too much of the plot away, she is the proverbial fallen woman, and like Hester Prynne, she is a very good woman despite her one error in judgement. The story is an exploration of society’s grappling with this/her sin. Can they be like Jesus and forgive or do they want to hang on to and throw stones? Those are the questions. So I guess I don’t see/expect ‘the character’ of Ruth as needing to be fully developed for the purpose of this novel. The characters around her are VERY interesting indeed! It’s a good read and accomplishes what the author set out to do. Highly recommended. *Her husband was a minister.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Resh (The Book Satchel)

    I was moved by the book. But I would recommend North and South if you are a newbie to Gaskell. What to expect? - Ruth portrayed as the extra angelic girl with no vices (made her seem less realistic) -underlying commentary on whether good looks = good character - view points about illegitimacy - social period where the whole burden (sin) falls on the mother - brisk pacing. But Vol. 2 was extremely dragging and very preachy. - at times, the plot has abrupt jumps. Perhaps this is because I was expecting I was moved by the book. But I would recommend North and South if you are a newbie to Gaskell. What to expect? - Ruth portrayed as the extra angelic girl with no vices (made her seem less realistic) -underlying commentary on whether good looks = good character - view points about illegitimacy - social period where the whole burden (sin) falls on the mother - brisk pacing. But Vol. 2 was extremely dragging and very preachy. - at times, the plot has abrupt jumps. Perhaps this is because I was expecting something similar to North and South Read more on http://www.thebooksatchel.com/ruth-el...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Issicratea

    I like Elizabeth Gaskell more and more as I begin to engage with her novels beyond North and South. Sylvia's Lovers, which I read last year, I thought genuinely one of the great Victorian novels. Ruth is an earlier work (dating to 1853, Gaskells second novel after Mary Barton), and you can tell that she is less sure of her art. What courage, however! Gaskell tackled head-on in this novel the compromising theme of the fallen woman, and she did so in the full knowledge that she would attract I like Elizabeth Gaskell more and more as I begin to engage with her novels beyond North and South. Sylvia's Lovers, which I read last year, I thought genuinely one of the great Victorian novels. Ruth is an earlier work (dating to 1853, Gaskell’s second novel after Mary Barton), and you can tell that she is less sure of her art. What courage, however! Gaskell tackled head-on in this novel the compromising theme of the “fallen woman,” and she did so in the full knowledge that she would attract opprobrium in the process (there are even accounts of a few copies being burned in moral protest.) Gaskell took on this challenge with a coolness that still impresses today, writing in a letter to a friend the year the novel came out, “I think I must be an improper woman without knowing it; I do so manage to shock people.” In terms of critical assessment, I would say I loved the first two thirds or so of the novel, and found its rhythm rather faltered towards the end. The tale of the eponymous heroine’s “fall” and its aftermath is handled with great sensitivity and moral boldness. Gaskell paints very vividly the hypocritical horror with which Victorian society responded to evidence of female sexual transgression, and the courage of those prepared to challenge the moral dictates of the day. Gaskell expertly sets up a contrast between the splendid, eccentric-yet-respectable household of the Bensons, in which the fallen Ruth finds shelter, and the stiffer, more disfunctional family of the wealthy industrialist Mr Bradshaw, with whom the Bensons are tied by patronage links. For a substantial portion of the novel, there is a genuine suspense and tension, as you wait to see whether Ruth’s secret will be exposed. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won’t describe what happens later in the novel. Suffice to say that the novel takes an increasingly “Victorian” turn towards the end, which many modern readers will find unappealing. Gaskell also starts leaning on creaky coincidences to move her plot forward: the kind of thing that a breezier novelist like Wilkie Collins can carry off, but which seem out of place in a serious character-driven and issue-driven novel of this kind. A few things I liked in the novel. Gaskell’s portrait of the fictional, semi-industrialized, midland town “Eccleston” is a nice anticipation of later, more fully realized “social novels” like her own North and South, and George Eliot’s Felix Holt: The Radical. There are some engaging minor characters, such as the Bensons’ rough-diamond servant Sally, and the Bradshaws’ complex, flawed, impetuous daughter Jemima. The wealthy, spoilt seducer and abandoner, Bellingham, is less appealing, but I thought very well drawn. The character I found most distinctive, however, was that of the brave and thoughtful dissenting minister Thurston Benson, the first figure in the novel with the intellectual boldness and religious empathy to hold out a hand to the outcast Ruth. Benson first appears during the most dramatic episode in the novel, set in the Romantic heterotopia of tourist Wales. He is a striking figure physically: a disabled man, “of the stature of a dwarf,” who appears mysteriously at Ruth’s side, helps her across a set of stepping stones, and starts speaking to her about Welsh legends of fairies. She is struck by his “gentle, pensive manner, and his “very singular, quite beautiful” face, although Bellingham scornfully dismisses her “little hunchback” as “not a gentleman” on account of his seedy lodgings and clothes (“he must be a traveller or artist, or something of that kind.”) Benson is used later in the novel to embody a model of free-thinking, radical Christian morality, capable of challenging the smug bigotry and unthinking cruelty of conventional mores. He gets some great lines in that capacity: when it is put to him that “the world has decided how such women should be treated,” he replies, “I stand with Christ against the world.” Although this is never spelled out in the novel, Gaskell clearly suggests that Benson’s “Christ-like” sensibility may be rooted in his experience of physical disability, which gives him an unusual degree of empathy for the weak and the ostracized. This seems to me an interestingly “modern” intuition for the time. By sheer serendipity, I have found myself reading two Victorian novels over the past few months that include a disabled man of notable facial beauty as one of their main characters: this and Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady, published some two decades later, in 1875. You could hardly find two characters more different than Gaskell’s saintly Benson and Collins’s magnificently bizarre Miserrimus Dexter, yet I found myself wondering whether Benson might have provided the seed of inspiration from which Collins’s remarkable Gothic conoction grew.

  8. 4 out of 5

    MomToKippy

    Writing style was torture for me. Could not do it. So sorry!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Viv JM

    Poor, poor Ruth. In Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell takes on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality with regard to "fallen" women. Sixteen year old Ruth is an orphan and very trusting and naive when she is seduced by the charm of Mr Bellingham. The book tells of her mistreatment by society when he callously discards her afterwards. Mr Bellingham, of course, receives no such mistreatment! This is, at times, a very sad book but Ruth is also treated with great kindness by some, and she is such a graceful and Poor, poor Ruth. In Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell takes on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality with regard to "fallen" women. Sixteen year old Ruth is an orphan and very trusting and naive when she is seduced by the charm of Mr Bellingham. The book tells of her mistreatment by society when he callously discards her afterwards. Mr Bellingham, of course, receives no such mistreatment! This is, at times, a very sad book but Ruth is also treated with great kindness by some, and she is such a graceful and dignified character, that it is also quite uplifting at times. Gaskell's characters are very well drawn - I especially loved the servant, Sally, with her down-to-earth Northern ways. By modern standards, this story does feel a little heavy handed, but I imagine it was quite controversial at the time it was written. I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Eve Matheson. The narration was very good, but be aware that the "chapters" in the audiobook are not the actual chapters of the book which can be confusing!

  10. 4 out of 5

    MichelleCH

    3.5** Ruth drove me crazy; women who are vulnerable and have such terrible obstacles thrown at them should gain empathy. Gaskell seemed to go to the extreme with Ruth: tragedy, poverty, isolation and no fight. Her character felt one-dimensional. Ruth starts alone in the world working as a dressmaker, at the beginning she shows empathy towards a fellow dressmaker and some spunk which does make her likable. She meets a Mr. Bellingham, who is completely narcissistic and infatuated with her 3.5** Ruth drove me crazy; women who are vulnerable and have such terrible obstacles thrown at them should gain empathy. Gaskell seemed to go to the extreme with Ruth: tragedy, poverty, isolation and no fight. Her character felt one-dimensional. Ruth starts alone in the world working as a dressmaker, at the beginning she shows empathy towards a fellow dressmaker and some spunk which does make her likable. She meets a Mr. Bellingham, who is completely narcissistic and infatuated with her innocence/beauty/sex appeal, and they end up in a compromising situation which changes her life forever. Eventually alone and abandoned by Bellingham she meets a Mr. Benson who takes her under her wing. He lives with his sister and they both protect and care for Ruth. Many things happen to eventually bring Ruth into a position of respectableness and she finally finds her way in the world. Unfortunately, her past is rekindled and she is exposed as a corrupt and fallen woman. Some of the wonderful things that I found in Mary Barton were not to be found with Ruth. This novel was a story that was too extreme in its tragedy, Ruth had no fight and by the end I couldn't sympathize with her situation any longer. On the other hand, I thought Mr. Benson's character was incredibly interesting. He had a physical challenge with his health but I thought he was strong and a plausible potential love interest. Gaskell did a nice job in showing us the depth of his character and his struggles between his religious beliefs and Ruth's past. He is so much more than a black and white character and he sees the shades of gray that make it so difficult to judge others. If Gaskell wanted to impress upon the reader the double standard and incredible unfairness to women at that time, she could have been a little less heavy-handed. For me, giving Ruth a bit more strength and depth would have drawn me to her more.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I had a hard time getting into this book at first. When I finally gave up trying to get through the laborious introduction criticizing Mrs. Gaskell's work, then I could hardly put it down. This book evoked many emotions in me -- I laughed, I cried, I disliked certain characters, and loved others. I believe that is a sign of a good book! The story takes place in the mid-1800's and revolves around the main character, Ruth, who has been orphaned and through some innocently-made poor choices, finds I had a hard time getting into this book at first. When I finally gave up trying to get through the laborious introduction criticizing Mrs. Gaskell's work, then I could hardly put it down. This book evoked many emotions in me -- I laughed, I cried, I disliked certain characters, and loved others. I believe that is a sign of a good book! The story takes place in the mid-1800's and revolves around the main character, Ruth, who has been orphaned and through some innocently-made poor choices, finds herself abandoned, alone and pregnant. Two kind souls take her in to live with them and provide a safe haven for her. How other people around her respond to her -- and particularly when they find out "the truth" -- is great seed for discussion: the perils of judging others, honesty, forgiveness of self and others, to name just a few. There is a definite religious bent to the book -- which is another thing that I liked about it. My favorite quote from Mr. Benson: "I take my stand with Christ against the world." I loved the language of the book -- Jane Austen-ish. There were many passages that were quite profound. This was the first Elizabeth Haskell book I have read but it will not be the last!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marquise

    This tragic story was supposed to have moved me? If so, it failed completely because it bored me to death instead. First, it's that the main character, Ruth Hilton, is too kind, too good, too pure, too lame. So non-relatable, not even her sad end elicited anything from me. Second, it's the melodrama and sentimentality Gaskell indulges in that gets tiresome after a few repetitive Poor girl! scenes, since the author seems determined to throw all sorts of disgraces at her character, whilst aiming This tragic story was supposed to have moved me? If so, it failed completely because it bored me to death instead. First, it's that the main character, Ruth Hilton, is too kind, too good, too pure, too lame. So non-relatable, not even her sad end elicited anything from me. Second, it's the melodrama and sentimentality Gaskell indulges in that gets tiresome after a few repetitive Poor girl! scenes, since the author seems determined to throw all sorts of disgraces at her character, whilst aiming to keep her as blameless and pure as the driven snow, so unrealistically stoic that it begs for one single moment where she's allowed to be angry and feel resentful at all that injustice instead of enduring it like a good little sacrificial lamb. What a spineless protagonist, seriously, what a pushover. The writing is old school Victorian classic, by which I mean wordy and ponderous and meandering, rather moralising at times as well, and overall makes it difficult to stay interested and keep your eyes open if you're reading in the night. It's hard to believe the same Gaskell who wrote that masterpiece North and South could've been the author of this novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate Howe

    I need to process... So so good though!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    As one of the enduring Victorian novelists, Elizabeth Gaskell is known for several things: her Northern settings (primarily in Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire), her social activism, and her religious beliefs. All of these came together in a particularly affecting way in her masterpiece North and South. Ruth, although appealing in some ways, is a much lesser accomplishment as a novel - and I think its internal conflicts, not to mention its excessive religiousity - hinders the point that As one of the enduring Victorian novelists, Elizabeth Gaskell is known for several things: her Northern settings (primarily in Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire), her social activism, and her religious beliefs. All of these came together in a particularly affecting way in her masterpiece North and South. Ruth, although appealing in some ways, is a much lesser accomplishment as a novel - and I think its internal conflicts, not to mention its excessive religiousity - hinders the point that Gaskell wanted to make in terms of its protagonist. Although it tackles a controversial topic for its time period, its treatment of that topic doesn't hold up so well for a modern audience. In her charitable work in Manchester, Gaskell came into close contact with many women whose lives had been blighted (or certainly made more difficult) by sex outside of marriage and the resulting (illegitimate) children. Gaskell recognised that women were both blamed and punished for this evidence of their sexuality; and that there was a double standard where men were concerned. In Ruth, one gets the sense that Gaskell is bending over backwards to show how blameless her own heroine is, despite her unforgivable 'sin'. The result of this is that she doesn't leave much room for compassion for the much more ordinary and likely 'sinner' - ie, a woman who is the victim of unfortunate circumstances. Gaskell goes to great lengths to present Ruth as a true innocent - an orphan of gentle birth, without friends or family, who has been apprenticed to a dressmaker. From the beginning, we are told of Ruth's great beauty and her innocence. When a young man, Mr. Bellingham, begins surreptitiously courting Ruth, he only has access to her because her employer is too cheap to feed her on Sundays. (Ruth goes to church and then spends the day wandering around the countryside.) But never mind that; when her employer sees Ruth and the son of one of her best clients walking together, she becomes incensed and dismisses Ruth from her employment. With no one else to turn to, it's no great surprise that Ruth is taken under Mr. Bellingham's protection. But at that point, it's actually quite difficult for the reader to think of Ruth as a sexual creature. Her childlike qualities are so emphasised that it is a bit of a shock when she ends up pregnant - even though that is obviously where the story is heading. On one hand, Mrs. Gaskell knew she was taking on a controversial topic: she wants her middle-class, pious Victorian audience to sympathise with a 'fallen woman'. But here's the rub: Gaskell makes Ruth so pure, so angelic, so self-effacing and so willing to suffer for her 'crime', that it doesn't feel like there is any real woman in the character. Even given the Victorian penchant for angelic women, this is all going a bit too far. If Ruth is so innocent, why is she made to suffer so much? The ending - even if you do believe that death will earn you some 'eternal reward' in terms of heaven and being reunited with God - feels like another punishment. Far from being socially revolutionary, the message of the novel feels retrograde to me. In one of the storylines of the novel, involving the Bradshaw family who employ Ruth as a governess, Mrs. Gaskell makes it clear that no one is without sin: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." It's a very predictable novel in many ways, full of obvious foreshadowing, and you don't have to be that experienced of a reader to realise that Mr. Bradshaw's pride in his (and his family's) own morality will go before a fall. Ruth ends up being taken in by a household of Dissenters: a middle-aged brother and sister and their servant Sally, who has been with them since they were young children. Thurston Benson, a minister of a small congregation, is presented sympathetically - and as a man who strives to live in a way that reflects his beliefs, not just for outer show but from deepest conviction. When he brings Ruth into his household - rescuing her after she is abandoned by Bellingham - he decides to tell a lie, to say that Ruth is a widow, in order to save her and her unborn child from rejection and censure. One of the philosophical questions of the novel is whether the end justifies the means; or in the words of Mr. Farquhar (a secondary character): "Are there not occasions when it is absolutely necessary to wade through evil to good?" Pragmatism and piety really do struggle in this novel, but piety - not always convincingly - wins the day. 3.5 stars

  15. 4 out of 5

    Diane Lynn

    The story of Ruth Hilton is told by an unknown narrator looking back after many years. It takes place during the Victorian era. Ruth is a 15 year old seamstress working long hours as an apprentice. She is also an orphan and very beautiful, and more importantly, she is very naive and innocent. She was little accustomed to oppose the wishes of any one obedient and docile by nature, and unsuspicious and innocent of any harmful consequences. She knew that she was beautiful; but that seemed abstract, The story of Ruth Hilton is told by an unknown narrator looking back after “many years.” It takes place during the Victorian era. Ruth is a 15 year old seamstress working long hours as an apprentice. She is also an orphan and very beautiful, and more importantly, she is very naive and innocent. She was little accustomed to oppose the wishes of any one— obedient and docile by nature, and unsuspicious and innocent of any harmful consequences. She knew that she was beautiful; but that seemed abstract, and removed from herself. Her existence was in feeling, and thinking, and loving. Character is brought up right at the beginning: The daily life into which people are born, and into which they are absorbed before they are well aware, forms chains which only one in a hundred has moral strength enough to despise, and to break when the right time comes— when an inward necessity for independent individual action arises, which is superior to all outward conventionalities. One day Ruth is selected, because she is beautiful, to go to a ball and sit in a back room ready to repair any gown malfunctions that crop up. Well she catches the eye of a 23 year old Mr. Bellingham as he is waiting for his date’s dress to be repaired. They run into each other days later when Ruth tries to save a boy from drowning. Bellingham is obsessed with Ruth. He really is just a bored young man with too much money and no responsibilities or scruples. Ruth and Bellingham start walking after church. He had contrived to find out what she did in her time off and then contrived excuses to meet her. The seamstress Ruth works for sees them out walking on one of these occasions, very far from home, and fires Ruth on the spot. Ruth has no one to turn to except Bellingham and that is the start of Ruth’s downfall. I won’t be saying anymore about the plot. I really liked this book. It reminded me of The Scarlet Letter and I wonder if Gaskell was influenced by it. This story moves along quite slowly but really picks up towards the end. It’s about the “fallen woman,” illegitimacy, and redemption. I did find that Gaskell often went off on heavy-handed asides and they did get to be a bit tiring, but not to the point I ever wanted to abandon the book. I also found Ruth to be just a little bit too good at times. Politics, bribery, poverty and a Dissenting minister all play a part. There is even an interesting older cook/housekeeper named Sally. She reminds me of Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey with just a small touch of Prudie from Ross Poldark thrown in. Since this was my first book by Elizabeth Gaskell I decided to do some reading about her. She was the daughter of a Unitarian minister (gave up preaching) and she married a Unitarian minister. She had a lot of sadness in her young life. After marrying, she and her husband went to live in Manchester where she was very involved in charitable work and very concerned with social issues and visited the prisons. The story of Ruth is based on the life of a woman that Gaskell met and helped during the course of her charitable work. Apparently this book was quite scandalous in it’s day and was even burned by one of the members of her husband’s congregation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I would give this a 4.5, but they don't have that option. I am really loving Elizabeth Gaskell. She is just fantastic. I would say that Elizabeth is like if Charles Dickens and Jane Austen had a child. She has the reality of Dickens, but not quite so wordy. And the romantic sensibility of Austen, yet not so witty. Anyway, "Ruth" was very very good. Very sad, but very good. I borrowed this book from my mom, as always. And when she lent it to me she said, "It's a story of redemption." And that's I would give this a 4.5, but they don't have that option. I am really loving Elizabeth Gaskell. She is just fantastic. I would say that Elizabeth is like if Charles Dickens and Jane Austen had a child. She has the reality of Dickens, but not quite so wordy. And the romantic sensibility of Austen, yet not so witty. Anyway, "Ruth" was very very good. Very sad, but very good. I borrowed this book from my mom, as always. And when she lent it to me she said, "It's a story of redemption." And that's exactly what it is. It is a little bit of Elizabeth getting on her soap box and stating her beliefs. But I like her beliefs and agree with her. I really love the contrast she makes between Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Benson. Their parenting styles were completely opposite and you see the result in the children they raise. I also think Ruth is an amazing character. Such a sweet and good example of how to try and do the best with the lot that you have been given, and doing the best to redeem your self from past mistakes. Loved it!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ophelia.Desdemona

    Ruth. Oh poor, dear Ruth. Many people think that this book is way too sentimental and Ruth too perfect and one dimensional. Maybe it's sentimental but I really liked it. And yes, Ruth is perfect but I think she has to be. This was published in 1853, written by a woman, about an illegitimate child. Ruth is a 'fallen' woman. I'm so impressed by Gaskell, by her courage to write this book and to publish it. Aah I want to say so much about this novel but can't find the right words! Besides raising Ruth. Oh poor, dear Ruth. Many people think that this book is way too sentimental and Ruth too perfect and one dimensional. Maybe it's sentimental but I really liked it. And yes, Ruth is perfect but I think she has to be. This was published in 1853, written by a woman, about an illegitimate child. Ruth is a 'fallen' woman. I'm so impressed by Gaskell, by her courage to write this book and to publish it. Aah I want to say so much about this novel but can't find the right words! Besides raising questions about what should be done with 'fallen' women it also raises questions about humanity. About kindness. About children inheriting their parents 'sins'. About challenging ideologies. About choosing social acceptance or personal pride. And so much more. I so loved so many characters. Mr Benson, Sally, but most of all, Jemima. Absolutely great.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Published in 1853, Ruth is Elizabeth Gaskells second novel and deals with the "theme of the fallen woman in the mid-Victorian era". The story of the long suffering heroine, Ruth Hilton, is almost entirely based on a real life case that Gaskell herself encountered and helped resolve during her many charitable works as the wife of a Unitarian minister in Manchester. Like her first novel, Mary Barton (1848), Ruth is intended as a "social-problem novel". Although Gaskell tried a lesser harsh Published in 1853, Ruth is Elizabeth Gaskell’s second novel and deals with the "theme of the fallen woman in the mid-Victorian era". The story of the long suffering heroine, Ruth Hilton, is almost entirely based on a real life case that Gaskell herself encountered and helped resolve during her many charitable works as the wife of a Unitarian minister in Manchester. Like her first novel, Mary Barton (1848), Ruth is intended as a "social-problem novel". Although Gaskell tried a lesser harsh approach, which Mary Barton was heavily criticized. Orphaned at a very young age, the strikingly beautiful, gentle-spirited Ruth Hilton ends up as an apprentice at a dressmaker’s shop. (A a precarious situation that Victorian readers readily believed exposed women to moral temptation.) The innocent and lonely Ruth falls prey to the attentions of Henry Bellingham, a wealthy and worldly man who is swept away by Ruth’s naiveté. They leave for London and Wales, where she lives with Bellingham as a "kept woman." Bellingham falls ill. His morally strict mother is summoned, and horrified to learn of her son living in sin. She removes Ruth from her son's life, and insists that her son abandon Ruth. He acquiesces, leaves some money, and never looks back. Completely distraught, Ruth attempts suicide, but is saved, and taken in, by the kind and disfigured Thurston Benson, a dissenting minister, and his equally sympathetic sister, Faith. They learn Ruth is "with child." Faith suggests circulating a lie that Ruth is a widow called Mrs. Denbigh to protect her from a society that would surely ostracize her. Thurston, though going against his moral grain, eventually agrees to Faith’s plan. Ruth gives birth to a beautiful boy named Leonard. In the next six years, ever mindful of her sinful past and the sacrifices made by the Bensons, Ruth strives hard for spiritual strengthening and devotes herself entirely to raising her boy in the utmost manner. Ruth matures into a steady figure that draws the attention of Mr. Bradshaw, the town’s richest businessman, who is full of self-consequence and prides himself in being a morally upright man. He is taken by Ruth’s Madonna-like demeanor and decides to hire her as the model companion and governess for his daughters. Unfortunately, fate catches up with Ruth when Mr. Bradshaw decides to enter politics by supporting a certain "Mr. Donne" in the upcoming elections. When Ruth meets him for the first time, Mr. Donne turns out to be the feckless lover that abandoned her six years ago. As events start to unfold, and the lie begins to unravel, the safe haven that Ruth has built around her and her son comes crashing down, with morally disturbing consequences. Ruth is clearly a novel with an agenda. Gaskell bravely tackled single motherhood and illegitimacy in 1853, when Victorian sensibilities were at full swing. By tightly controlling her story, Gaskell got her readers to question: "Was Ruth guilty and thereof redeemable? Or was she innocent and therefore not to be blamed?" It is interesting that Thurston Benson, the most morally upright character in the novel, is physically deformed—a HUNCHBACK. Perhaps it is but part of the novel’s recurring theme: "That it is not the external, physical manifestation of being that matters most, but the internal, spiritual one."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Gaskell succeeds again at writing a captivating story with fascinating characters and thought-provoking themes. All of her books portray her intense social conscience, but each depicts a variety of conflicts, thus creating a fresh experience with each book. "Ruth" describes a society that is self-righteous and judgmental, and Gaskell specifically criticizes her society that keeps women naïve but then punishes them for their innocence. She does this by juxtaposing the self- righteous members of Gaskell succeeds again at writing a captivating story with fascinating characters and thought-provoking themes. All of her books portray her intense social conscience, but each depicts a variety of conflicts, thus creating a fresh experience with each book. "Ruth" describes a society that is self-righteous and judgmental, and Gaskell specifically criticizes her society that keeps women naïve but then punishes them for their innocence. She does this by juxtaposing the self- righteous members of her society with a few merciful and compassionate ones. My only criticism is that the main character is a bit too over the top virtuous, but as I read about her, I was uplifted and edified and desired to be more forgiving and compassionate.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jane Upshall

    Aw Ruth , you were judged and doomed from the beginning. How difficult life was for this poor young 16 year old girl who gets pregnant by a lover gets fired from her position as dressmaker apprentice and is forced to leave town for a new life . Lie upon lie was created to protect the innocent girl but the lies are discovered later . I read a few other books by Gaskell and appreciated them so I thought Ruth would be a great read . I just couldnt get past the judge mental side in this story . Its Aw Ruth , you were judged and doomed from the beginning. How difficult life was for this poor young 16 year old girl who gets pregnant by a lover gets fired from her position as dressmaker apprentice and is forced to leave town for a new life . Lie upon lie was created to protect the innocent girl but the lies are discovered later . I read a few other books by Gaskell and appreciated them so I thought Ruth would be a great read . I just couldn’t get past the judge mental side in this story . It’s very telling of the times though I’m aware. There was so much discussion of sin and judgement which appeared very preachy . It was beautifully written and I generally enjoy Victorian novels . This one left a bad taste in my mouth as I felt so terribly sad for the way Ruth was treated throughout the book. There was no redeeming quality in the end . Just sad! Very sad!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Richards

    4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this story; easy to read and love how Gaskell writes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emma Flanagan

    Im never sure how to describe Elizabeth Gaskell or her books. She is like a cross between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, with her books fluctuating along a spectrum between the too. Some like Cranford and Wives and Daughters with their focus the lives of the middle and upper classes are more Austen. Others like Mary Barton with a focus on social issues are more Dickens. North and South, my favourite, sits somewhere in the middle with its love story and exploration of social issues. Ruth is is I’m never sure how to describe Elizabeth Gaskell or her books. She is like a cross between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, with her books fluctuating along a spectrum between the too. Some like Cranford and Wives and Daughters with their focus the lives of the middle and upper classes are more Austen. Others like Mary Barton with a focus on social issues are more Dickens. North and South, my favourite, sits somewhere in the middle with its love story and exploration of social issues. Ruth is is one of Gaskell’s social novels, exploring the idea of the ‘fallen woman’. The Victorians had a bit of an obsession with the ‘fallen woman’. In a society with a strong focus on the family, and strict moral code heavily stacked against women, a woman who bore a child outside of marriage was a social taboo and irrespective of the circumstances would be shunned by society. Unsurprisingly such woman appear again and again in Victorian literature, and as a general rule the get the shit end of the stick. I’m looking at you Thomas Hardy. I refuse to read any more Hardy after Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and what happened to poor Tess. I can’t take it his books are too depressing. Dickens too examined the fallen woman through characters such as Nancy in Oliver Twist and Lady Dedlock in Bleak House, both of whom ultimately come to sorry ends. Ruth however is different. Gaskell explores how society treats a woman whom society who cast aside and what can happen if she is given a chance. She forces society to question, is there another way, and is the woman always the guilty party. Gaskell’s beliefs would have been rather radical at the time, and indeed even in modern society can make the reader think, are there those we judge more harshly then we ought. In terms of characterisation Ruth is the typical angelic Victorian heroine. She is unerringly good (illegitimate child aside, and really that wasn’t her faulty), with a strong belief in God. I’m not a huge fan of the ‘goody two shoes’ angelic Victorian heroines. I prefer them to have flaws, to have a bit of spunk. However I have to respect Ruth for her strength. Through all that befalls her, she shows great strength of character, and with the benefit maturity is able to stand up for what is right. The most interesting characters are in fact the secondary characters. Jemima in particular stood out. Here was a character who was struggling with the edicts of society, endlessly getting herself into scrapes, and without a doubt a girl with spirit. While undoubtedly North and South remains my favourite, I enjoyed Ruth. I would rank it along side Wives and Daughters and Cranford. Mary Barton remains my least favourite. I wouldn’t recommend it as an introduction to Elizabeth Gaskell, but to those already familiar with her work it is a worthwhile read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    In "Ruth" Elizabeth Haskell dares to cover the subject of an unforgivable sin for Victorians, the fallen woman, by suggesting that even a good girl can call from grace, and still be redeemed. Young Ruth is lonely, overworked and seduced by a wealthy young man, then dropped when his mother disapproves of his plaything. She is left pregnant and very nearly ostracized, but for the kindness of a dissenting minister and his sister. "Ruth" tackles a subject that was not spoken about in the days it was In "Ruth" Elizabeth Haskell dares to cover the subject of an unforgivable sin for Victorians, the fallen woman, by suggesting that even a good girl can call from grace, and still be redeemed. Young Ruth is lonely, overworked and seduced by a wealthy young man, then dropped when his mother disapproves of his plaything. She is left pregnant and very nearly ostracized, but for the kindness of a dissenting minister and his sister. "Ruth" tackles a subject that was not spoken about in the days it was written, and Mrs. Gaskell handled it with taste and compassion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Really enjoyed this ensemble cast - the book really picked up once the Bensons entered the story. This was a really interesting discussion of religion and morality. I was surprised by the relatively progressive ideas toward Ruths sin by the sympathetic characters. Sally was hysterical. I enjoyed seeing Ruths strength of character and bond with her son. I dont know why the book ended as it did.... Really enjoyed this ensemble cast - the book really picked up once the Bensons entered the story. This was a really interesting discussion of religion and morality. I was surprised by the relatively progressive ideas toward Ruth’s sin by the sympathetic characters. Sally was hysterical. I enjoyed seeing Ruth’s strength of character and bond with her son. I don’t know why the book ended as it did....

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I read a lovely old 1887 version of this book which I found on ebay for about £8. The "cheaper" illustrated green cloth, and black and gold gilt versions which are always easy to find for Thackeray, but this was the first one I saw for Mrs. Gaskell. The book had 5 stories Ruth, The Gray Woman, Morton Hall, Mr. Harrison's Confessions, and Hand and Heart. Ruth was very enjoyable. A story that was quite controversial at the time, apparently burned by a member of her husband's congregation. It is I read a lovely old 1887 version of this book which I found on ebay for about £8. The "cheaper" illustrated green cloth, and black and gold gilt versions which are always easy to find for Thackeray, but this was the first one I saw for Mrs. Gaskell. The book had 5 stories Ruth, The Gray Woman, Morton Hall, Mr. Harrison's Confessions, and Hand and Heart. Ruth was very enjoyable. A story that was quite controversial at the time, apparently burned by a member of her husband's congregation. It is interesting to go back and look at the morals and hypocrisy of the time. Gaskell spoke out that a woman who'd "fallen" did not have to be branded for life, and that they could, even after such a "disastrous" start turn into loving Christian women. In the contemporary responses to the book, the biggest criticism seemed to be that the Dissenting preacher came up with the "lie" that Ruth was in fact a widow and let her live that way. While she spent a great deal of time talking about how good Ruth was, and how much she later conformed to the virtuous woman stereotype, Gaskell did also mention that Ruth herself felt no different from when she was younger. To me my favourite time was just before and during her fall when Ruth felt like she was doing no wrong. Just when she decided to give up her virginity to Mr. Bellingham was never addressed, they went from walking after church on a Sunday, to "living in sin" in a hotel in Wales with no explanation, or even any details that they were involved sexually till later when it turned out that Ruth was pregnant. Despite being overtly moral in tone this book was lots of fun. The main characters all had their own strengths and weaknesses and were highly amusing at times, above all they seemed very human. The Gray Woman This story I did not quite like as well as I should have. It was a lovely plot about a young girl married to a murderous aristocrat who had to escape with her maid. While it was quite tense in places, particularly when the girl was hidden under the table next to the corpse, the rest of the tension didn't seem to play out quite so well. Morton Hall This story was brilliant. A short story about the woes and lives of the county squire and his family through several generations. It was hilarious, creepy and tragic. All the things Mrs. Gaskell does best in a short 40 page story. Hand and Heart This seemed to be a children's Sunday school lesson. It was about a little boy who by helping others was able to make the family better and happier. It reminded me of the sort of stories they'd tell us at Bible Camp about how if we were good Christians we'd offer/want to help with the washing up. I never wanted to help with the washing up and therefore thought I wasn't a very good Christian. Needless to say I didn't enjoy this story very much. It was far too over the top. I guess even Mrs. Gaskell can eventually get too religious for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Ruth is 16, recently orphaned and sent to work in harsh, oppressive conditions as a seamstress. She is extremely naive and exceptionally beautiful, and also very lonely, making her easy prey for the rich and self-serving 23-year-old Mr. Bellingham. He endears himself to her with kind words and friendship, but when her employer sees her out walking with him, she is suddenly and unjustly fired from her position. With no means to obtain food or shelter, Ruth is rightly terrified. Mr. Bellingham Ruth is 16, recently orphaned and sent to work in harsh, oppressive conditions as a seamstress. She is extremely naive and exceptionally beautiful, and also very lonely, making her easy prey for the rich and self-serving 23-year-old Mr. Bellingham. He endears himself to her with kind words and friendship, but when her employer sees her out walking with him, she is suddenly and unjustly fired from her position. With no means to obtain food or shelter, Ruth is rightly terrified. Mr. Bellingham takes advantage of the late hour and her fear and uncertainty, promising to deliver her to the village where she was born so she can seek help. Instead, he turns the carriage toward London. Without friends or guardians to take an interest in her welfare and being completely ignorant of sexual matters, she becomes a fallen woman. It is weeks later before Ruth realizes that she has sinned in the eyes of both God and society. Mr. Bellingham abandons her at a hotel in Wales, and the story unfolds from there. This book examines the Victorian double-standard, the treatment/education of women, Christianity and repentance, forgiveness, redemption, family, prejudice and judgment, and the best way to teach moral behavior.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder

    CNF Ch 20 @ 46%. The premise of the story is interesting, but due to the nature controversial subject for the time period that EG wrote this (Victorian era) she has made the MC Ruth so perfect/inoffensive that I find her very boring. I was drawn to this because of the social commentary and subject matter, but due to Victorian morals, EG must make "Ruth" the character, a dead bore.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ayelet Waldman

    I love Gaskell, but in the end what she lacks is humor.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Unfortunately this fell under the shadow of Brontës Villette that I just finished and was still processing - but Gaskells clear, bright and winning writing won me to her. Gaskells beautiful writing turned this time to the topic of the fallen woman which was a controversial topic even in Gaskells own household, but I believed she carried off the tale well. Ruth is a beautiful young woman, aged 15, when she is drawn away from her work life by a feckless young dandy - it quickly becomes clear he Unfortunately this fell under the shadow of Brontë’s Villette that I just finished and was still processing - but Gaskell’s clear, bright and winning writing won me to her. Gaskell’s beautiful writing turned this time to the topic of the ‘fallen woman’ which was a controversial topic even in Gaskell’s own household, but I believed she carried off the tale well. Ruth is a beautiful young woman, aged 15, when she is drawn away from her work life by a feckless young dandy - it quickly becomes clear he cares for nothing but his own comfort and amusements. After living with him for weeks, he falls ill and his mother comes to Wales to collect him and readily leaving Ruth behind, thankfully Mr Benson is there to offer her shelter and kindness. He and his sister take her in, even though Ruth is discovered to be with child, and the idea that the sins of the parents should not be cast on the child is greatly expressed throughout this novel - if it was otherwise I would have found it hard to like this book. Unlike Hardy’s Tess of D’Urbervilles, Ruth is made to constantly repent for her sins rather than accept a illegitimate child as a simple nature. However, I greatly doubt anyone would have accepted such a cavalier depiction of illegitimacy from a woman writer. All in all, I throughly enjoyed Gaskell’s ability to weave the tale and a brilliant ensemble cast.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucie

    Absolutely amazing. This is everything I wanted in a 19th century novel about a 'fallen woman'.

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