Book Talk: Wives and Daughters

by Kelsey Norwood

in Making Good


Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell, is my book club’s selection for April. I’ve just finished and I really enjoyed the story. I love books set in this place and time period (19th century England). The social differences between now and then are so fascinating to me – for example, the way that the upper class treat everyone. It’s ludicrous! The aristocrats act like they are of completely superior race and intelligence and what’s more shocking is how the bourgeois accept it! Throughout this book I was particularly paying attention to those relations – the middle class are so enthralled and enamored by the aristocrats, it’s ridiculous! I have a hard time imagining living in a society like that.

Though I find that portion of English society ridiculous, I love the formality and elegant language they use. I think we could use more of the respect and social courtesy that was expected in those days. Also, I love the way they go visiting and have tea parties and balls. Their social gatherings were much more refined and frequent! I would like a bit more of this in society today – I think technology has been the death of this kind of social interaction.

Reading books like this remind me how thankful I am for the rights that women have gained over the years. I am so glad that, as a woman, I am able to own property and vote and be treated as an equal to men. Frankly, I think we’ve actually gone a little too far in this direction. It seems that the numbers of men graduating from college are now fewer than women, as one example. I feel that many men are sitting back and letting the women run the show a little too much, which I also do not think is right. I’m a traditionalist and think that men should be educated and retain their masculine role as provider/breadwinner in society. I believe in strong women, but the coming generation of males need to be just as strong and intelligent as their female counterparts. Some men are stepping down and giving up, it seems. Just my opinion…

As you can see, this book brought up some interesting thoughts. It was a very enjoyable read!

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