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Cousin Phillis

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Book Overview: 

Cousin Phillis is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell about Paul Manning, a youth of seventeen who moves to the country and befriends his mother's family and his second cousin Phillis Holman, who is confused by her own placement at the edge of adolescence. Most critics agree that Cousin Phillis is Gaskell's crowning achievement in the short novel. The story is uncomplicated; its virtues are in the manner of its development and telling. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
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'It was not quite, sir,' replied I, vanquished by his manner; 'but it shall be in future.'

'Come, that's right. You and I shall be friends. Indeed, it's not many a one I would bring in here. But I was reading a book this morning, and I could not make it out; it is a book that was left here by mistake one day; I had subscribed to Brother Robinson's sermons; and I was glad to see this instead of them, for sermons though they be, they're . . . well, never mind! I took 'em both, and made my old coat do a bit longer; but all's fish that comes to my net. I have fewer books than leisure to read them, and I have a prodigious big appetite. Here it is.'

It was a volume of stiff mechanics, involving many technical terms, and some rather deep mathematics. These last, which would have puzzled me, seemed easy enough to him; all that he wanted was the explanations of the technical words, which I could easily give.

While he was looking. . . Read More

Community Reviews

After loving the BBC miniseries, it was a delight to read the source material! Cousin Phillis was an unexpected treasure. I highly recommend this particular edition for that reason. The notes were very useful as well.


Two tonally different but equally marvelous stories. Cranford includes some genuine belly laughs alongside some tragedy and heartbreak. There is almost too much going on but somehow it stays the right side of mawkish and the silliest characters are rightfully beloved and the most pompous of neighbou

I really enjoyed this collection of Elizabeth Gaskell's novellas. Cranford is without a doubt my favourite and solid four stars, while Cousin Phillis is a bit too usual for my taste. The novellas create a contrast between themselves; while Cranford is absolutely hilarious, Cousin Phillis is a tragic

Cousin Phillis is as good a short novel you'll ever read.

I came to Cranford without having seen the recent television adaptation but somewhat wary because it had been dismissed as "women gossiping." One might as well describe Romeo and Juliet as "families squabbling."

Perhaps no English village in the time of sedan chairs and candlelight was quite as idyl

Cranford is one of the better-known novels of the 19th century English writer Elizabeth Gaskell. It was first published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words, which was edited by Charles Dickens. The fictional town of Cranford is closely modelled on Knutsford in Cheshire, which Mrs. Ga

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