31 January 2020

Book Beginning: Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell


Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

There are some fields near Manchester, well known to the inhabitants as 'Green Heys Fields', through which runs a public footpath to a little village about two miles distant. In spite of these fields being flan and low, nay, in spite of the want of wood (the great and usual recommendation of level tracts of land), there is a charm about them which strikes even the inhabitant of a mountains district, who sees and feels the effect of contrast in these common-place but thoroughly rural fields, with the busy, bustling manufacturing town he left but half an hour ago.

I don't know anything about this story, but have seen it on lists of classic books. Wikipedia tells me: "The story is set in the English city of Manchester between 1839 and 1842, and deals with the difficulties faced by the Victorian working class." One thing I can see is that I'm going to have to concentrate when reading this because of the long, involved sentences so common in Victorian tomes.


  1. I'd forgotten this is how the novel begins. I think the idea is to emphasise the contrast between the grimness of the industrial city in which the characters live and the rural landscape that they rarely get to appreciate.

    1. Yes, I think that is the purpose. I've read the first few chapters now and I am liking it a lot.