why, elizabeth gaskell, i had no idea….
for some reason, i had always equated elizabeth gaskell with well-behaved women in fancy dress sipping fizzy lemonade in english gardens talking about their suitors or something, but this is a bona fide gothic novella with a little of the old “life’s little ironies“—vintage thomas hardy included to kick your heart in.
and it’s pretty great, because not only is it doing all this work as a spooky, entertaining supernatural gothic tale of curses and tragedy and revenge, but it is using the gothic style to make some pretty cutting social commentary, which is subtle at first, but explodes into a last-act scenario in which there is no mistaking her message.
and not all the ladies are well-behaved.
it was definitely a nice surprise for me; i love having my illusions shattered, and i am always impressed when something as slim as a novella manages to pack so many layers of meaning into so little space. i admire economy.
but to sum it up as a life lesson for you: do not kill an old lady’s dog. not ever.