Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I began this book while I was studying English Literature, and the Condition of England Novel. It was towards the end of semester and I didn't finish it. My mind was exhausted and so it was set aside, half finished, with a number of other books. I went on a bit of chick lit binge and finally returned to it a year later.
I could remember the story (essentially) but I had forgotten some. Characters were vague, as were some of the finer plot details. I muddled through (thank you Wikipedia) and ultimately I finished rather enjoyably. I mean, it is considered a classic for a reason.
It is a wonderful reflection on society at the time - the unions, the extreme poverty, and the extremes people living precariously can be driven to. Its all very tragic. All interwoven with a thread of romance. What more could you ask for?
Gaskell is a wonderful writer, despite this not being the best example. Her later novels show a much more developed voice.