Originally published as a serial story, Wives and Daughters is told with an episodic narrative, following a young woman named Molly Gibson as she comes of age. Molly is the only child of a widowed doctor. Raised in an English provincial town, Molly's childhood is filled with trips to aristocratic mansions and bonding experiences with her father. As she grows older however, men become more interested in her because of her attractive appearance. When Dr. Gibson discovers a creepy crush one of his apprentices has on his daughter, he sends her away to live with another family. Though she misses her father, Molly enjoys her life with the Hamley family. Treated as if she were their daughter, Molly grows very close with Mrs. Hamley and the youngest son, Roger. Meanwhile, as domestic drama unfolds at the Hamley's, Dr. Gibson entertains the idea of remarrying. Thinking that another woman would have a good influence on Molly, Dr. Gibson decides to marry Miss Claire, who Molly had met once as a child. Though he had good intentions, Dr. Gibson was mistaken in his assumption that Molly and his new wife would get along. Already shy and a little awkward, Molly does her best to keep the peace, but feels that her stepmother is selfish and too social ambitious. Even though Molly misses living with the Hamley's, she soon finds joy in her new homelife as she grows close to her stepsister, Cynthia, who has a nearly opposite personality compared to Molly. Despite their differences, Molly and Cynthia form a unique bond that they must nurture as they grow together, enduring the unfair social expectations of 19th century England.
With secret proposals, family drama, abusive men, and hurtful gossip, Wives and Daughters is a thrilling account of life as a woman in 19th century England. While Gaskell provides fascinating insight on home life and societal expectations during this period, Wives and Daughters also features strong and intriguing characters that have captured the hearts of readers for centuries.
Regarded as one of Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell's most popular novels, this edition of Wives and Daughters features an eye-catching cover design and is printed in an easy-to-read font. With these accommodations, modern readers are able to experience this gripping classic with ease.