In this Victorian novella we have a very early piece of Elizabeth Gaskell’s works. Our heroine Maggie Browne is
a familiar in Victorian works, poor with a mother who is overly critical and a mean-spirited brother who of course is doted upon by the mother. The father has passed away, having been a clergyman, and the family has nothing but itself to get along. Gaskell uses the down-trodden frequently as characters in her work. Maggie comes to fall in love with the son of the wealthy estate owner and, of course, not all receive that development happily, his father in particular. What follows are the twists and turns the couple endure and the caprices of Maggie’s errant brother.
This is Gaskell at an early age, yet her writing is lyrical, and you see what she will hone to perfection in her later novels. Being a novella, there is fast plot development and the ending comes together nicely. If the story seems familiar, it may be because George Eliot used it virtually as a template ten years later in writing The Mill on the Floss, even so far as to use the name Maggie as her heroine. A very nice read to add to those who enjoy Gaskell. This is re-printed by Hesperus Classics as part of their large catalog of out of print stories now available as novellas.
Rating: 4 stars