I’m finished the audio version. It’s pretty boring until about half way. After that it’s really rather interesting. The story is okay, standard Victorian fiction about love, marriage, class and gender roles, but with its own internal twists. I suppose the idea is to make for “uplifting” literature for the female mind.
But all that said, the female characters are varied and well done – Molly is quite bright but her step-sister, Cynthia is a bit wild and emotional. The males kind of run together a bit but that may be deliberate as the main males are brothers. Still, they are quite different in some ways.
The story ends rather abruptly as Gaskell died before she finished. She left word with someone about how she foresaw the book ending and the narrator reads the analysis by Frederich Greenburg in 1866 about idea what could have happened but it doesn’t really matter – it’s just a matter of winding up the last chapter. There’s also a bit of character analysis there – great addition to the book, btw.