Elizabeth Gaskell 200th Anniversary Blog Tour: Sylvia’s Lovers

http://austenprose.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/gaskel-graphic.jpgWelcome to the 7th stop on the Elizabeth Gaskell 200th Anniversary Blog Tour! Please join me and other Elizabeth Gaskell enthusiasts in honoring her on her birthday today with a blog tour featuring  a biography of her life and times, reviews of her books, novella’s and movies, reading resources, and a photo tour of her homes. I cannot say how honored Stiletto Storytime is to be a part of this tour. While my blog may not a period blog, this time in literature holds my heart.  Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my personal favorite authors. She is almost like a friend I curl up with when in need of comfort, North & South is not only one of my top five book books but also one of my top five film adaptations as well. To sum it up…I adore her work.


Here on Stiletto Storytime I was to review Gaskell’s work Sylvia’s Lovers which I am enjoying on my Nook but if I could be enjoying a real copy, above is the one I would choose. It has character and was my favorite of the many covers I viewed. I crave old books and this one is one I long to own. 

“Set in the isolated whaling port of Monkshaven, Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) exposes the tyrannical press-gangs, one of which carries off Sylvia’s lover, the harpooner Charley Kinraid. Sylvia, left penniless and believing Charley dead, marries her cousin; when her first love returns a hero from the Napoleonic wars, treachery is revealed and Sylvia must make a fateful choice in this strange and powerful dramatization of human destruction.”

I say I was to review…because I have a confession…I have not finished. You see this is the last of Gaskell’s works for me. I have read it all. It’s hard when you realize that there will be no more from one of your favorite authors. That her words are limited. And so I have savored every moment of Sylvia’s Lovers, with its rough and yet lyrical dialect, its humorous depictions of characters I can see vividly in my head such as Sylvia’s father:

“He had a strong notion of being a kind of  domestic Jupiter.”

“That’s all t’ women know about it. Wi’ them it’s “coompany, coompany, coompany,” an’ they think a man’s no better than theirsels. A’s have yo’ to know a’ve a vast o’ thoughts in myself’, as I’m noane willing to lay out for t’ benefit o’ every man. A’ve niver gotten time for meditation sin’ a were married; leastways, sin’s left t’ sea. Aboard ship, wi niver a woman wi’n leagues o’ hail, and upo’ t’ masthead, in special, a could.”

As I said I am reading it slowly…and enjoying each of its over 400 pages…at times re-reading passages aloud. To me this better pays tribute to Ms. Gaskell. Better to do it this way than to have rushed through this last treasure for me to get my review up in time. I will not. I will savor every page and sigh when I finish for another great writer will have gone silent. What better review or recommendation can one give than that? For with Gaskell no matter which book you choose, you have chosen well.

In Sylvia’s Lovers I have read as Gaskell does what she does best:  spin a story as if a web, a little love, social commentary of humorous intent, memorable characters and the shining of light upon injustice. In Sylivia’s Lovers, we are to learn about the “press gangs”, emissaries of the King’s Navy sent to take men into their ranks by force. Yet another social injustice of a time before that I was unaware of. Perhaps in my confession there is folly but well….

Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.”

Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters

“Follow this link to the next blog on the Elizabeth Gaskell bicentenary blog tour at November’s Autumn.





  • 14.) Your Gaskell Library – Links to MP3′s, ebooks, audio books, other downloads and reading resources available online: Janite Deb – Jane Austen in Vermont
  • 15) Plymouth Grove – A Visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s home in Manchester: Tony Grant – London Calling


Filed under Audiobooks, Author Interviews & Posts, Classic Literature, Events

27 responses to “Elizabeth Gaskell 200th Anniversary Blog Tour: Sylvia’s Lovers

  1. Linda B

    I had never heard of this one, but I’ll add it the list of books to search for. Thanks for the review.

    • stilettostorytime


      It’s one of the lesser known which is why it is the last I have to read but it’s not to be missed much like almost all her other works!


  2. Pingback: Elizabeth Gaskell Bicentenary Blog Tour: Your Gaskell Library « Jane Austen in Vermont

  3. Pingback: Elizabeth Gaskell Bicentenary Blog Tour: Ruth – A Book Review « Austenprose

  4. Pingback: Elizabeth Gaskell Bicentenary Blog Tour: North and South (Naxos Audiobooks) – A Book Review « Austenprose

  5. “That’s all t’ women know about it. Wi’ them it’s “coompany, coompany, coompany,” an’ they think a man’s no better than theirsels. A’s have yo’ to know a’ve a vast o’ thoughts in myself’, as I’m noane willing to lay out for t’ benefit o’ every man. A’ve niver gotten time for meditation sin’ a were married; leastways, sin’s left t’ sea. Aboard ship, wi niver a woman wi’n leagues o’ hail, and upo’ t’ masthead, in special, a could.”

    Absolutely love this quote. I hope you are keeping your ,”a” vowels nice and flat. Stretch them a little and you’ll’ get int’way a speakin’ lek a true north’ner, a should.

    OOPs sorry. getting a little carried away then.

    Now listen lass, you’s shouldna go on aboot gettin t’end a Gaskills werds like. Ye can all’ays read em agin like. Now get on with ye lass.

    • stilettostorytime

      Thanks Tony! You make me laugh….I love the dialect…it’s one of the reasons I savor and take my time with Gaskell. That quote just seemed so timeless…I can so see my husband saying something of that type…he is now walking around calling himself “a domestic Jupiter” since I read that quote to him! Too fun!

  6. Felicia

    I have read many of Gaskell’s novels, but I haven’t read this one yet. It is sitting on my night stand in my to be read pile. I will definitley be picking it up soon.

  7. Sylvia’s Lovers is the “only” book I’ve never been able to complete, I’ve tried twice. I feel it maybe the dialect I’m getting hung up on and then cannot finish. My copy is Penguin Classic.

    • stilettostorytime

      Keep trying! Just take your time…the dialect is full of priceless gems although it does take some extra time! Well worth it!


  8. This is an interesting theme. Believing your love is dead and marrying another, and then he returns a war hero. Tragic. I am of course curious who it all turns out, but have to read it myself to discover the ending. Thanks Courtney for participating in the blog tour. It is always a pleasure to work with fellow literature lovers.

    Cheers, Laurel Ann

    • stilettostorytime

      Thanks Laurel Ann…I did so love being part of the tour…even though my post became somewhat unconventional! =) The theme is quite tragic…I have heard Gaskell called it “her saddest book”. But as I said I am savoring it….

      Thanks again,

  9. I enjoyed Sylvia’s Lovers so much that I put Whitby on the itinerary when I visited the UK in 2009–it was so cool to walk along the cliffs and down on the shore and remember the story and Gaskell’s visit to the town while she was researching it.

    I’ve often thought that this should be the next Gaskell novel adapted for the screen. Sylvia isn’t my favorite heroine, but the story itself is so compelling.

    Enjoy the rest of the story–I’d be interested in hearing how you like the ending.

    • stilettostorytime


      I so agree…I have wondered why it has not been adapted…I think it would be a great work for the screen. Fingers crossed!

      Thanks so much for your visit and comment!

  10. Pingback: Book Synopsis: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell « November's Autumn

  11. AprilFool

    I see Sylvia’s Lovers on my bookshelf, its spine pristine and unbroken (edition published in 1982); on the back cover it says that Mrs Gaskell called it the saddest book she ever wrote. I guess that’s why I haven’t read it!

  12. I think I would feel like savouring every moment of the last book by Gaskell as well. (I did not read all of your review as I plan to read this soon-ish). And North and South is definitely one of my all-time favourite books and adaptations.

    • stilettostorytime


      I just always get kind of sad when I read the last of an author’s works and want to savor every bit…I know I can re-read but it’s just not the same. Cannot wait to hear what you think of it!


  13. Lynne

    I haven’t read this one either, but I will plan to this winter…it sounds like a good book to snuggle up with and enjoy a lovely slow read.


  14. RegencyRomantic

    You are a evidently a lover of words and literature, Courtney! Your review is certainly compelling me to seek out this novel the next time I’m in the book store.

    The part that you quoted puts me in mind of the ‘dialect’ that Gaskell used for Higgins in ‘North and South’. I’m sure someone will correct me and say it’s not from the same part of the country, but it has such a specific flavor and rhythm that, indeed, one has to take the time to read it, to savor it. I had a hard time understanding Higgins the first time I read N&S, but upon repeated readings (and listening to audiobooks), I’ve really come to appreciate the nuances of his character more from his particular dialect.

    Sounds like I will have to read Sylvia’s Lovers the same way… =)

    • stilettostorytime

      I too love Higgins and Bessie in N&S for their dialogue…In reading dialect like this I find that if I read out loud…I get so many more of the subtle humor and nuances. I may look odd but it adds to my experience with the book! Lucky we now have a dialect coach in dear Tony….and he makes me giggle when he calls he “lass”! I will absolutely post a review when I completely finish “Sylvia’s Lovers”.

      Thanks so much for visiting…glad to meet another Regency lover!


  15. Pingback: Friday News & Web Round Up « Elizabeth Gaskell Blog

  16. Along with Ruth, this is the other Gaskell novel that I have still pending to read and the comments in this entry are definitely placing the balance in favour of Sylvia’s Lovers for my next Gaskell reading

  17. Pingback: Gaskell Blog Tour ~ Comment deadline « Jane Austen in Vermont

  18. Pingback: Winner announced in the Naxos Audiobooks recording of North and South giveaway « Austenprose

  19. Thanks for this blog post. I love Gaskell and am afraid, like you, of reaching the end – finding no more works of hers to read. I enjoyed N&S and W&D so much I can hardly imagine loving anything else as much. I have Ruth on my shelf to be read, but not Sylvia’s Lovers. And I can enjoy a sad story if it gives much to ponder over. I loved Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbevilles.

Let's Talk....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s