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Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
If you are interested in complex, colorful and multi-faceted accounts of mid-Victorian life and you like romantic stories, too, you will surely love Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters. The character development novel follows the life of two girls - Molly Gibson and her step-sister, Cynthia - as they journey towards womanhood, an exhilarating account spiced with lots of wit and social criticism of the Victorian age.
Gaskell's masterpiece is a coming-of-age story, the lives depicted having everything you can possibly expect of a good read. There is romance, there is comedy, tragedy, drama and everything in between, making the novel a very human story, close to any of us at any age, in any era. The story has plenty of well-shaped, complex characters, especially after the point when Molly meets her step-sister. Wives and Daughters is, indeed, a coming-of-age novel, but it is also much more: it is a sensitive account of the dynamics of changing relationships inside and between closely knit families, so it is just as much about daughters and wives as it is about sons and husbands or brothers and sisters.
The book is not simply and only entertaining. It transmits important messages even today, having a lot to tell about the role of women in society and what it means to be British - small wonder it has had so many editions since it was first published in 1865.
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