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The Grey Woman

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Book Overview: 

A “Bluebeard” story in which a young woman marries a man whom she discovers has killed his previous wives and is trying to kill her as well.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .r his housekeeper, and repeating how often she had spoken of the happy life she led with him. The men might have their doubts, but they did not wish to offend the miller, and all agreed that the necessary steps should be taken for a speedy funeral. And so they went out, leaving us in our loft, but so much alone, that, for the first time almost, we ventured to speak freely, though still in a hushed voice, pausing to listen continually. Amante took a more cheerful view of the whole occurrence than I did. She said that, had the old woman lived, we should have had to depart that morning, and that this quiet departure would have been the best thing we could have had to hope for, as, in all probability, the housekeeper would have told her master of us and of our resting-place, and this fact would, sooner or later, have been brought to the knowledge of those from whom we most desired to keep it concealed; but that now we had time to rest, and a shelter to rest in, during the. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Having read half of these stories in other collections, I only read the four from this one that were new to me.

'Bessy's Troubles at Home' revolve around a fatherless family of six children and an ailing mother. When the mother is sent - on doctor's advice - to Southport for three weeks, fifteen-y...more

I've encountered some of these tales before in a Virago collection titled "Curious, If True" which contained examples of Gaskell's ghost stories. This collection, however, is a little different, being as it contains two tales with a supernatural element and the rest are either ones which were pub...more

Some very nice short stories, a real pleasure to read.
The Grey Woman stands out as a Gothic tale, in the tradition of Ms. Ann Radcliffe's novels.

I am mainly rating this book for the first tale - The Grey Woman, a Gothic tale of a meek, beautiful woman, Anna, is rushed into a (well, saying bad would be quite an understatement) marriage. When faced with death Anna fortunately has a resourceful handmaid to help escape, but her life is foreve...more

2,5/5 stars

The Gray Woman short story was surprisingly gripping, about a woman falling into and escaping from an abusive relationship. This edition has versions of the short stories that have been "translated" into modern English. The originals are in appendixes.

The Gray Woman was by far the strongest story. Unfortunately the bulk of the tales feel rather dated or are simple moral tales more along the lines of children fiction.

The first story, "The Grey Woman" is a standout. Many of the other stories were pieces of their time and haven't remained contemporary. I wonder if when many of these stories were written when Gaskell was tired out from childbirth and not a her full writing prowess.

These lovely little stories, many of which are about children or young people, are more often than not morality tales. They often feature kindness and generosity in the face of great difficulty. The characters are well rounded and I enjoyed the description of life (usually of the lower classes) i...more

This book contains 8 stories, and was a good example of the subjects that stirred the imagination of this important author and spurred her on to take up paper and pen to create a story. In this collection the tales are all completely different and some have the personal thoughts of the author or...more

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