The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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May 1, 2011

The sisters and the cousins and the aunts

Elizabeth Gaskell's cousin Henry Holland
...was married twice...but at various times his sisters Bessy and Mary kept house for him in London. ... As young women Mary was 'clever' (at the age of fifty-four Elizabeth still smarted when snubbed by her), Bessy was 'pleasing' and 'amiable,' while their sister Lucy was 'rather a curiousity, a jumble of untrained ideas, of cleverness in some things, & stupidity in others, no tact, & a simplicity in speaking whatever she thinks, that is very amusing; her perfect good temper makes her take well the laughter, which it is impossible to restrain at her odd speeches, without wishing to make her ridiculous.'
Mary and Lucy have been cited as originals for Deborah and Matty Jenkyns in Cranford and, though the point is debatable since they were only eighteen and ten years older than Elizabeth, these older cousins must seemed more like young aunts...than cousins.
-- from Elizabeth Gaskell:  A Habit of Stories, by Jenny Uglow

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1 comment:

Karen K. said...

I love the screen shot -- those roles were so perfectly cast in the miniseries. I may have to watch it all over again. I'll be reading North and South for a book group this summer and I am really looking forward to it. After I read more Gaskell I'd love to read this biography.

Thank you for visiting!

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