An Elizabeth Gaskell For All Seasons

I am obsessed with Elizabeth Gaskell’s stories. I haven’t read as many as I want to yet, but I love the way she writes, the characters she creates, and the romances she weaves. The other thing I love about Elizabeth Gaskell is the way her novels have been adapted brilliantly to television. I have never seen a Gaskell adaptation I didn’t like; they all make me think and cry, which I love.

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The other day, I realized there are some books and movies that fit better during different seasons of the year. I read Ray Bradbury in the fall, Anne of Green Gables in the spring, and a lot of Jane Austen in the winter. Then I thought about Elizabeth Gaskell and realized there is a story for every mood, and, of course, a Gaskell for every season, if you will. With that, here are four Gaskell tales and which season I prefer to read/ watch them.

Winter

My favorite Gaskell work is North and South. I love it more than Pride and Prejudice. The characters, the stories, the message… I just love it. The 2004 mini-series starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe is fantastic. When it’s cold and gray, this is the book and film I reach for. Plus, the scenes in the mini-series that stand out the most take place during the winter.

An Elizabeth Gaskell For All Seasons

Daniela Denby-Ashe in a chilly North and South. Photo: BBC

I also chose this for winter because of the scene in the mini-series when Thornton walks through the mill and the cotton flies all around him. It just gives me a lovely wintery-vibe.

Spring

An Elizabeth Gaskell For All Seasons

Justine Waddell, Keeley Hawes, and Anthony Howell in Wives and Daughters. Photo: The BBC

My favorite spring-time Gaskell is Wives and Daughters. I think this is mainly because of the TV version with that wonderful romantic scene in the rain. However, I also love this as a spring story because of the themes of rebirth and second chances. Molly and Roger are also serious about studying and learning about the natural world. It has serious moments, but I think this is certainly a wonderful spring-time story.

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Summer

Judi Dench in a summery Cranford. Photo: The BBC

When it comes to summer, there’s one Gaskell story that stands above the rest. That is Cranford. To my shame, I have not seen the miniseries with Dame Judi Dench, but the story is one I can imagine reading in a hammock, if only because it’s a little smaller. If I dropped Cranford on my face, it wouldn’t hurt too badly. Cranford’s also a fun, witty story, and just the type of book I like to read during a hot summer day.

Fall

An Elizabeth Gaskell For All Seasons

This one was hard for me because during the fall I tend to reach for stories that are a bit darker and sadder. But then I discovered the Gaskell tale Sylvia’s Lovers, and while I haven’t read it yet, this story is perfect for my fall reading needs (although Mary Barton would do in a pinch). Gaskell herself thought this book was tragic, and it sounds like the type of book that requires cocoa or tea and a warm blanket. For me, that makes it perfect for fall.

What are your favorite Elizabeth Gaskell stories and/or miniseries? Do you read certain books during certain seasons, or is it just me? Let me know in the comments section! 


Photo Credits: BBC, BBC One

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