About the book: While Mary Barton is literally a murder mystery, it is also an abundantly detailed and sympathetic view of the nineteenth-century English weaving village of Manchester and some of its people. Mary Barton is young, kind, and beautiful - perhaps dangerously so. John Barton, her hearty and intelligent but grievously uneducated father who "could never abide the gentlefolk," pours fierce love and courage into his family and work. When Mary's beautiful Aunt Esther disappears, her beauty is blamed: "Not but what beauty is a sad snare. Here was Esther so puffed up, that there was no holding her in." Mary's love - for her father, her friends, her charming rich suitor (the son of a factory owner), and his rival, her faithful childhood friend Jem who "loves her above life itself" - provides rich texture and suspense in this finely spun tale: will Mary's pride be her ruin? Will Jem pay with his life for his love of Mary? Interspersed with sparse but regular authorial observation, scenes from family life, work, and love in a nineteenth-century industrial village come alive.
About the author: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in Chelsea, London in 1810. She was the youngest of eight children of a Unitarian Minister and Professor. In 1832, she married her husband William Gaskell a young Minister. When her long awaited only son died in 1845, her husband convinced her to write to help alleviate her grief. This book is the result of that. It was a sudden success and catapulted her into famous circles, becoming friends with Dickens and Charlotte Bronte. Elizabeth Gaskell died very suddenly in November 1865.
This number says it's hardback, but it's actually the paperback version. There is a separate number for the hardback version.
Good Story! The plot was slow sometimes but altogether an easy read.
From the back cover:
In her remarkable first novel, Mary Barton (1848), Elizabeth Gaskell portrays city life in the 'hungry forties' of the nineteenth century.
The plot turns on Mary's romantic choice between Henry Carson, the son of a rich industrialist, and her working-class lover Jem Wilson, and the rivalries between them. The class-divide and the widening gap between rich and poor are central themes in a novel originally named after Mary's father, John Barton. A radical trades unionist, his tragedy dominates the book, and in his bitter intelligence and courage he is one of the most compelling heroes in all Elizabeth Gaskell's fiction.
In his introduction to this new edition m
Macdonald Daly discusses the novel's artistry and its liberal politics. 'The revolution urged by Mary Barton is a revolution in the emotional and mental dispositions of individuals towards each other ... a thoroughly idealist enterprise."