July Group Read: Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
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Since we'll be reading at different times and different paces during the month, it would be helpful to include chapter numbers with comments. The relatively new spoiler tag is useful for hiding plot details from those who haven't yet reached that point in the novel.
I thought it started out a little awkwardly, with much made about Esther's disappearance, then nothing more about her until near the middle of the book. The romance started out a lot like The Small House at Allington, but it took a different twist that I liked better.
The ebook that I downloaded from Project Gutenberg included a lot of notes about terms or phrases used as part of the local dialect. I found that I didn't need most of those notes. Either the terms were familiar to me (possibly a lingering influence from immigrant ancestors many generations ago), or the meaning seemed obvious from the context.
I think Gaskell succeeded at highlighting the social problems of the working class in England's industrial region in a story with entertainment value. This book is very different from Cranford and Wives and Daughters, but in some ways I liked it better.
I read the first two after seeing the adaptations, both very good, but she does get so much detail into her work. I actually find her less clunky than Dickens, as her dialect seems natural rather than there for comedic effect.
I spotted this in a charity shop not long before it was suggested as a readalong, perfect timing.