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Round the Sofa

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Book Overview: 

A collection of short stories. Round the Sofa, a short story which she uses as a device to stitch together six previously published stories into a single work. It introduces us to a set of characters who take turns to recount stories to one another during their weekly soirée. My Lady Ludlow tells the story of the widowed, aristocratic Lady Ludlow and her fierce resistance to change. It is told through the eyes of one of her young charges. Incidentally, it was one of the books used to create the TV series Cranford. An Accursed Race is actually an essay about a persecuted minority group, the Cagots in Western France. The Doom of the Griffiths. A Gothic short story about a cursed family and set in Wales. Half a Life-Time Ago. A novella set in the Wiltshire Dales. The Poor Clare. A Ghostly short story! The Half Brothers. A sad short story about brotherly love and a sheep-dog dog named Lassie!

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . which he gave, and from letting the rooms that we took, a drawing-room opening into a bed-room, out of which a smaller chamber led. His daughter was his housekeeper: a son, whom we never saw, supposed to be leading the same life that his father had done before him, only we never saw or heard of any pupils; and there was one hard-working, honest little Scottish maiden, square, stumpy, neat, and plain, who might have been any age from eighteen to forty.

Looking back on the household now, there was perhaps much to admire in their quiet endurance of decent poverty; but at this time, their poverty grated against many of my tastes, for I could not recognize the fact, that in a town the simple graces of fresh flowers, clean white muslin curtains, pretty bright chintzes, all cost money, which is saved by the adoption of dust-coloured moreen, and mud-coloured carpets. There was not a penny spent on mere elegance in that room; yet there was everything considered necessar. . . Read More

Community Reviews

“Round the Sofa” consists of seven short tales, of which the title story features different characters who relate the other six.

Three of these I’ve read elsewhere, so skipped over them here. A third one was a non-fiction account that didn’t appeal to me, thus I bypassed this one too.

I started three

The best writer.

This book greatly increased my respect for Elizabeth Gaskell.
Her knowledge of history is incredible.
Her consistently compassionate treatment of the all her characters pleased me. She emphasizes the humanity of refugees, invalids, the impoverished, illiterate, ne'er do wells, the mentally ill, the a

This book contains some of my favorite Elizabeth Gaskell short stories: "Half A Life-Time Ago," "The Doom of the Griffiths," "The Poor Clare," and "The Half-Brothers." "The Accursed Race" is unique in that it is not fiction, although the history of the Cagot is so incredible I was compelled to Googl