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A Dark Night's Work

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Book Overview: 

Love, murder and class commentary in Mrs Gaskell's usual brilliant style! She chose to avoid melodrama and concentrate on psychological realism to produce a moving story of people meeting and parting across class divides.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .bove him,” “claiming connection with the De Wintons of --- Castle, who, as she well knew, only laughed when he was spoken of, and said they were more rich in relations than they were aware of”—“not people papa would ever like her to know, whatever might be the family connection.”

These little speeches told in a way which the girl who uttered them did not intend they should.  Mrs. Corbet and her daughters set themselves violently against this foolish entanglement of Ralph’s; they would not call it an engagement.  They argued, and they urged, and they pleaded, till the squire, anxious for peace at any price, and always more under the sway of the people who were with him, however unreasonable they might be, than of the absent, even though these had the wisdom of Solomon or the prudence and sagacity of his son Ralph, wrote an angry letter, saying that, as Ralph was of age, of course he had a right to please himself, t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This was a very nice tale about a young lady who is quite devoted to her father. She is practically blind to his faults. She falls in love with a rather cold hero. Before she can marry her lover, though, a terrible tragedy strikes her family. The rest of the novella dwells on our heroine's ability t

This was an entertaining read. It had a bit of a slow start while it introduced us to the characters, then you get knocked with something out of left field and the novel goes on with this event and how it effects the characters and how life goes on for them.

I thought the suspense good, the story wa

Delitto di una notte buia è un romanzo breve di Elizabeth Gaskell che fino a poco tempo fa era ancora inedito nel nostro paese. Pubblicato a puntate nel 1863 sulla rivista diretta da Dickens, “All the year around”, il romanzo si apre sul villaggio di Hamley, un piccolo borgo della campagna inglese,

Elinor Wilkes seems to have an enchanted life. Her father is a prosperous attorney and he dotes on her as his only surviving child, his wife also being deceased. She meets, through her vicar, a young man, Ralph Corbett, and becomes engaged. Her happiness seems assured, then, with the events of one f

This confirms for me that Gaskell’s sweet spot is novella-length fiction.

Other than Mary Barton (which I really liked), I have a history of difficulty finishing her long-form novels. And my enjoyment of her short stories has been uneven. But boy, her novellas have consistently been my happy place!

A

Overall I think I prefer Gaskell's longer novels to her shorter works. As much as I loved some of the darker elements explored in this work, I was not invested in the characters and thought the plot was drawn out to the point of losing the suspense and tension of the story.

It is hard to review this story because it originally was serialized. And because of that there were plenty of repeats to keep new weekly readers of the story a prized of the story line.

If Gaskell had edited the story after the serialization, the narrative might have flowed better.

Una sensation novel tipicamente gaskelliana, cioè poco sensazionale e molto umana e introspettiva, dove il male, sempre in agguato, che sopraggiunge e sconvolge la vita di un uomo debole ma integerrimo non ha connotazioni soprannaturali ma è un qualcosa che riguarda particolarmente i tormenti interi

This was an real treat to discover - a truly brilliant Elizabeth Gaskell novella that, while short, beats many of her longer novels for me. It is a fascinating tale of morality and guilt, of family and love and loyalty. Absolutely worth a read.

“Oh my God! one little hour ago I was innocent of this man’s blood!“

Thus speaks Edward Wilkins, a successful country lawyer, after he has struck down his business partner in a temper, thereby causing the man’s death. However, ill-luck will have it that his own daughter Ellinor, the only family membe

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