Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Short Story: The Squire's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell


I spend so much of my time reading the latest releases that I rarely have time to dip back into the classics. Admittedly, I often find the classics a bit harder to read...the language forces me to think harder and reread sentences more often than in my normal reading. But I do want to read certain authors and Elizabeth Gaskell is an author I have very much wanted to read. So I was excited she was going to be on the classics circuit!

I signed up to read a short story because I know the reality of my time. I didn't realize I would have even less time, though, than I originally thought! So I confess...almost as if this was a class assignment, I chose one of the shorter stories in my book.

And....that was probably not the wisest choice. Because to be completely honest, I have no idea what the point of this short story was.

The story is of the squire who meets a nice man who his daughter ends up eloping with. And not everyone approves of this situation. And then there's a murder! And maybe there's still some money hidden in the house of the murderer. The end.

I felt a bit like the story rambled on introducing a chain of characters and then one quick event and it was over. And that's not really my style.

That doesn't make for a very interesting post so I went back to gather information from the introduction in Gothic Tales the short story collection I bought for this tour. It turns out this is a retelling of a local legend! The Knutsford local legend Edward Higgins. And I found out in this context that Gaskell "borrowed" quite a lot for her stories.

So...this is my first experience with Elizabeth Gaskell, but it's unlikely to be my last. I still want to read Wives and Daughters and North and South. At some point.

A very special thank you to the Classics Circuit for allowing a Classics loser like myself to give it all a try!





Amy

19 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I am really sadly lacking in the classics department. I think I will probably hit 110 or 120 books this year, and only a few of them have been classics. What on earth have I been doing? Short stories are a tricky sort. Some of them are wonderful, but you have to be one heck of a writer to get your point across in a short number of pages.

FYI, also I should tell you that Caite @ A Lovely Shore Breeze wrote a tear-jerking review of "I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This" and "Lena" this morning. She credits the both of us, and Natasha. I swear if I die today, I will just be happy that one more person has read these books because of something I said!

Beth Kephart said...

Here it is, 5:30 AM in the morning, and you have me laughing. I know that probably isn't why you wrote this post, but your description of the story is priceless. And through it all, you maintain your sweetness. I've had many reading days like that, when I wonder what it is that I am missing.

On another note — did you get my holiday song notes? My email has been whacky and uncooperative.

Rebecca Reid said...

Oh dear, a short story without a point! I think even the best of writers have stories like that. I'm sorry it ended up being a disappointing read -- and I do hope you give Gaskell another chance sometimes. The title "Gothic Tales" sounds so promising...

And there is no such thing as a Classics loser, I say! I hadn't read any Gaskell or Collins until this fall either!

Chris said...

I have no experience with Gaskell (except I'm reading her non-fiction this week) but it doesn't sound like this is a place to start.

jennysbooks said...

I've had such a hard time with Elizabeth Gaskell in the past - I'm hoping the Classics Circuit will help me decide to give her another try!

Memory said...

I often have the same problem with 19th century stories. Some of them are really, really good, but others leave me wondering why the author even bothered.

Nymeth said...

I'm reading the collection this story's in for the Classics Circuit, and it's absolutely my least favourite so far. So I'm glad you said you won't give up on her for good!

Vasilly said...

I'm with Beth, your description did make me laugh! I need to read more classics and being a college student, I'm slowly catching up. I hope the author's other reads are much better.

bermudaonion said...

I think that's why I struggle with short stories - they're not developed enough for me to understand them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

Why don't you try Slyvia's Lovers, it is my favourite Gaskell novel. It is long, so takes time and commitment, but it is definitely worth it. A beautiful story with an unhappy ending.

JoAnn said...

Too bad this one didn't work for you. I read Gaskell's ghost story "The Old Nurse's Story" last month and loved it. It's available on line if you'd like to give her another chance.

Gypsy Rose Creations said...

Wives and daughters and north and south - 2 of my favourites. But yes i know where youre coming from with the 'harder to read' comment.

Brian - Kafkacotton said...

Thanks for the heads up on The Classics Circuit, Amy! I go for classics whenever I can - as Thoreau said, "Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I am reading Gothic Tales by Gaskell as well. The first one went right over my head. I am hoping to have better luck as I go on.

JaneGS said...

I read The Squire's Story last year and also thought it pretty dismal. The Old Nurse's Story in the same collection is much better--a classic Victorian ghost story

Mollie said...

I'm slowly reading North and South. I LOVED the BBC mini series and the book is good. I pick it up in between other books.

Amy said...

Sandy...yeah, I haven't read many classics either. They DO take more time for me and are more work for the payoff.

Beth..yes got it! I'm glad I could make you laugh!

Rebecca...that makes me feel better! I think of you as the queen of classics! :) I do hope to do another Classics Circuit next year.

Chris...I think you're right. ;)

Jennysbooks..such optimism!

Memory...I think I have that problem with books in general!

Ana...well she has a good reputation, so I figured it must be an off one!

Vasilly...me too!

Kathy..some work for me, this one did not!

Anon...thanks for the recommendation!

JoAnn...thanks I may do that!

Gypsy Rose..I do hope to read North and South at some point and thanks for understanding!

Brian..true and I hope you enjoy the classics circuit!

Nicole...you my friend, are my friend and always make me laugh!

Jane..another for the Old Nurse's Tale! I'll have to check it out!

Mollie...that might be the way to go....slowly but surely!

Mark said...

Appreciation for the heads up on The Classics Circuit, Amy! I am reading the collection this story's in for the Classics track, and it's completely my least favorite so far.

Have a good day.

------------------
Hendlin Books

Alfy said...

I found "The Squire's Story" in a book titled "Classic Victorian And Edwardian Ghost Stories". Loth though I am to admit it, I must confess my ignorance here. I cannot understand how it is a ghost gtory. Could sombebody here please enlighten me?


PS I had the oddest feeling that the narrator asking if any of the readers would become tenants was meant to be understood as a character in the book or his/her phantom?

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