Ruth Hilton is an orphaned young seamstress who catches the eye of a gentleman, Henry Bellingham, who is captivated by her simplicity and beauty When she loses her job and home, he offers her comfort and shelter, only to cruelly desert her soon after Nearly dead with grief and shame, Ruth is offered the chance of a new life among people who give her love and respect, even though they are at first unaware of her secret an illegitimate child When Henry enters her life again, however, Ruth must make the impossible choice between social acceptance and personal pride In writing Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell daringly confronted prevailing views about sin and illegitimacy with her compassionate and honest portrait of a fallen woman


10 thoughts on “Ruth

  1. Kristina Kristina says:

    It s funny Gaskell s novels seems to me to be what everyone thinks of as a Victorian novel, and yet she is not really read or taught widely Just a thought.Unlike some of the other readers, I did not love the character of Ruth A lot of people say that Victorian heroines are always too good to be true, and I can see that point, but Ruth seriously is too good in my opinion, too good to be very attached to as a reader The narrator and Mr Benson keep saying she has faults, but her faults se It s funny Gaskell s novels seems to me to be what everyone thinks of as a Victorian novel, and yet she is not really read or taught widely Just a thought.Unlike some of the other readers, I did not love the character of Ruth A lot of people say that Victorian heroines are always too good to be true, and I can see that point, but Ruth seriously is too good in my opinion, too good to be very attached to as a reader The narrator and Mr Benson keep saying she has faults, but her faults seem to be that she is too proud to accept gifts or handouts and that she is overprotective of her son These are the kinds of faults that you give when you re asked on your job interview what your shortcomings are they are, in a sense, strengths disguised as faults Or maybe one reason I don t like Ruth as a character, though, is because of her masochistic insistence on beating herself up over one mistake, a trait that is uncomfortably familiar to me Of course, her real fault is that she is a fallen woman, which is exactly why Gaskell made her so unrealistically good and pure she had to make Ruth perfect in order to show that she was unfairly punished for one mistake she made in her youth I understand this, but it makes it hard for me, as a modern reader, to be interested in her as a character My favorite characters are Jemima, Ruth s younger,rebellious,flawed friend, and Sally, the housekeeper who seems a bit like a Dickens character.One thing that was really interesting about this particular fallen woman story, though, is that Ruth is not raped like Tess , nor is she flirtatious like Hetty Sorrel She seems to really love Bellingham at the beginning, and though Gaskell does hint that Ruth s romantic fantasies are part of her mistake, she is not a silly girl, only innocent Ruth really doesn t seem to see anything wrong with living with Bellingham as a kept woman until other people make her feel it s wrong, and she never suggests or seems to think they will marry In addition, unlike Hetty, Ruth is able to be taken back into society in a way though certainly she can never have another sexual or romantic relationship In her own way, Gaskell makes a stronger case for the fallen woman than Eliot or Hardy, despite the fact that the latter two are arguably, I suppose superior stylists Well, and Hetty is, to me, ainteresting character because of her flaws and especially her crime Another interesting thing is to see the various jobs Ruth has in her life she is a seamstress, a governess, and a nurse At one point, she loses her job and Jemima wonders how Ruth will support her son I ve said it before and I ll say it again anyone who thinks the working woman or single mother is a modern phenomenon has never read 19th century novels or nonfiction This isn t my favorite Gaskell, but I enjoyed it


  2. Chrissie Chrissie says:

    I went into Ruth having been told that this was a depressing story Well, it both is and it isn t It is a tale about a fallen woman in the Victorian era She is also an orphan She is not a prostitute, not even flirtatious, but she is pretty What the book does remarkably well is put you there in her shoes More than simply looking at how others see her, this is clearly made evident too, but the reader also experiences her world from her perspective which is of course strongly influenced by her I went into Ruth having been told that this was a depressing story Well, it both is and it isn t It is a tale about a fallen woman in the Victorian era She is also an orphan She is not a prostitute, not even flirtatious, but she is pretty What the book does remarkably well is put you there in her shoes More than simply looking at how others see her, this is clearly made evident too, but the reader also experiences her world from her perspective which is of course strongly influenced by her personality This woman is the eponymous Ruth of the title If the story is to be in any way realistic, it has got to be grim There are, however, a wide array of subsidiary characters They add depth to the story Through them one sees events through different angles There are characters that are kind and wise Others are ordinary Others amusing Their presence lightens the story What some say are at times extremely funny Listen to this Faith is speaking to her brother, Thurston, a good, kind dissenting minister We watch as one little lie gets bigger and bigger As explanation and excuse Faith tells us this I do think I have a talent for fiction It is so pleasant to invent and make the incidents dovetail together, and after all if we are to lie, we might as well do it thoroughly or else it is of no use A bungling lie may be worse than useless, and Thurston, it may be very wrong, but I believe I may enjoy not being fettered by truth I like books that mix humor with the sad and wisdom with foolishness and stupidity Such is reality This is what Gaskell delivers in her book.Each character has a different personality, and each seems to me to be true to who they are What they do and what they say fit Ruth, poor Ruth, she is so meek and so alone in the world, and so the mistakes she makes seem understandable and yeah, forgivable Her tears well up, again and again No matter what you think of her, what she does makes sense given her predicament, her situation and her temperament That she falls for view spoiler Henry hide spoiler is understandable The love she feels for her view spoiler son hide spoiler may seem excessive but he is ALL she has Each and every one of the characters make sense to me Further, as one event follows another, characters morph, they are molded by the events that occur I was convinced that this was in fact how things could very well happen There are good things that happen and there are bad things Some people change and some people don t, and this is exactly how life really is Some readers may complain that there is too much talk about religious beliefs Not being religious myself, this is a complaint I might easily have made, but it didn t feel this way to me at all What is being stressed are not religious precepts but instead moral, ethical behavior Neither is it unreasonable that a minister thinks in the religious way he does.Eve Matheson narrates the audiobook The narration is topnotch, superb, excellent She uses different intonations for the different characters, and each and every one is perfect Maybe my favorite intonation was Sally s Sally is the Bensons maid Thurston and Faith are the Bnsons There are arguments and fights, weeping and cajoling, young characters and old all are performed with panache Basically, I liked this book for two reasons Elizabeth Gaskell has a way with words She knows how people talk and she invents good dialogues She can draw a beautiful description of nature She has the ability to accurately capture a situation and places and people as they really are The result is that what is drawn is realistic and convincing The book s realism is the second reason I like the novel so very much I came to feel convinced that events could roll out just as they did Another reason I so like this book is that I saw and felt and experienced another person s reality, and that person is very different from myself Wives and Daughters 4 stars Ruth 4 stars North and South 2 stars Cranford 2 stars Mr Harrison s Confessions 1 star Cousin Phyllis TBR


  3. Sarah Sarah says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Others might have found this book problematic because of all the scriptural references that Mrs Gaskell quotes but I found it refreshing and loveable Her writing is very sympathatic towards Ruth although not all of the characters in this novel are near being as Christ like as Mr and Miss Benson Sally the housekeeper kept the humor and a few tears in the book for me but Ruth s character was unmistakable of pure love for all mankind even at her death and her forgiving heart to nurse back the l Others might have found this book problematic because of all the scriptural references that Mrs Gaskell quotes but I found it refreshing and loveable Her writing is very sympathatic towards Ruth although not all of the characters in this novel are near being as Christ like as Mr and Miss Benson Sally the housekeeper kept the humor and a few tears in the book for me but Ruth s character was unmistakable of pure love for all mankind even at her death and her forgiving heart to nurse back the likes of the scoundrel Mr Donne and his stupidity and lack of propriety and respect to the opposite sex and towards his own son which I was so glad stayed with the Bensons who could give him the care and education that he deserved whether he be a child born out of wedlock or not Besides Ruth my other favorite character was Mr Bensonhe had all the right ideas of true christianity even when his whole parrish made the decision to leave his congregation because of Ruth And he stood by her like a true christian would


  4. Katie Lumsden Katie Lumsden says:

    Gaskell as always is brilliant I love her characterisation and dialogue and Ruth is a fascinating, interesting read, especially in terms of its discussion of morality, gender and sexuality in Victorian society.


  5. booklady booklady says:

    Apparently Elizabeth Gaskell took a lot of flak for her heroines, some at least who were less than ideal ladies of their era Mary Barton of Gaskell s first novel made some poor choices and Ruth here seems to have been a bit naive as well What the author got in trouble for, faced social censorship for, in her fiction seems tame by today s standards Reading other reviews here on Goodreads,than a few didn t like our little Ruth either but for different reasons That puzzled me as I guess Apparently Elizabeth Gaskell took a lot of flak for her heroines, some at least who were less than ideal ladies of their era Mary Barton of Gaskell s first novel made some poor choices and Ruth here seems to have been a bit naive as well What the author got in trouble for, faced social censorship for, in her fiction seems tame by today s standards Reading other reviews here on Goodreads,than a few didn t like our little Ruth either but for different reasons That puzzled me as I guess it never crossed my mind to like or dislike her I was just concerned with how she was going to survive her predicament Ruth is a The Scarlet Letter type story Without giving too much of the plot away, she is the proverbial fallen woman, and like Hester Prynne, she is a very good woman despite her one error in judgement The story is an exploration of society s grappling with this her sin Can they be like Jesus and forgive or do they want to hang on to and throw stones Those are the questions So I guess I don t see expect the character of Ruth as needing to be fully developed for the purpose of this novel The characters around her are VERY interesting indeed It s a good read and accomplishes what the author set out to do Highly recommended Her husband was a minister


  6. Resh (The Book Satchel) Resh (The Book Satchel) says:

    I was moved by the book But I would recommend North and South if you are a newbie to Gaskell.What to expect Ruth portrayed as the extra angelic girl with no vices made her seem less realistic underlying commentary on whether good looks good character view points about illegitimacy social period where the whole burden sin falls on the mother brisk pacing But Vol 2 was extremely dragging and very preachy at times, the plot has abrupt jumps Perhaps this is because I was expecting s I was moved by the book But I would recommend North and South if you are a newbie to Gaskell.What to expect Ruth portrayed as the extra angelic girl with no vices made her seem less realistic underlying commentary on whether good looks good character view points about illegitimacy social period where the whole burden sin falls on the mother brisk pacing But Vol 2 was extremely dragging and very preachy at times, the plot has abrupt jumps Perhaps this is because I was expecting something similar to North and SouthReadon


  7. Issicratea Issicratea says:

    I like Elizabeth Gaskellandas I begin to engage with her novels beyond North and South.


  8. Viv JM Viv JM says:

    Poor, poor Ruth.In Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell takes on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality with regard to fallen women Sixteen year old Ruth is an orphan and very trusting and naive when she is seduced by the charm of Mr Bellingham The book tells of her mistreatment by society when he callously discards her afterwards Mr Bellingham, of course, receives no such mistreatment This is, at times, a very sad book but Ruth is also treated with great kindness by some, and she is such a graceful and d Poor, poor Ruth.In Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell takes on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality with regard to fallen women Sixteen year old Ruth is an orphan and very trusting and naive when she is seduced by the charm of Mr Bellingham The book tells of her mistreatment by society when he callously discards her afterwards Mr Bellingham, of course, receives no such mistreatment This is, at times, a very sad book but Ruth is also treated with great kindness by some, and she is such a graceful and dignified character, that it is also quite uplifting at times Gaskell s characters are very well drawn I especially loved the servant, Sally, with her down to earth Northern ways.By modern standards, this story does feel a little heavy handed, but I imagine it was quite controversial at the time it was written.I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Eve Matheson The narration was very good, but be aware that the chapters in the audiobook are not the actual chapters of the book which can be confusing


  9. MomToKippy MomToKippy says:

    Writing style was torture for me Could not do it So sorry


  10. MichelleCH MichelleCH says:

    3.5 Ruth drove me crazy women who are vulnerable and have such terrible obstacles thrown at them should gain empathy Gaskell seemed to go to the extreme with Ruth tragedy, poverty, isolation and no fight Her character felt one dimensional.Ruth starts alone in the world working as a dressmaker, at the beginning she shows empathy towards a fellow dressmaker and some spunk which does make her likable She meets a Mr Bellingham, who is completely narcissistic and infatuated with her innocence 3.5 Ruth drove me crazy women who are vulnerable and have such terrible obstacles thrown at them should gain empathy Gaskell seemed to go to the extreme with Ruth tragedy, poverty, isolation and no fight Her character felt one dimensional.Ruth starts alone in the world working as a dressmaker, at the beginning she shows empathy towards a fellow dressmaker and some spunk which does make her likable She meets a Mr Bellingham, who is completely narcissistic and infatuated with her innocence beauty sex appeal, and they end up in a compromising situation which changes her life forever Eventually alone and abandoned by Bellingham she meets a Mr Benson who takes her under her wing He lives with his sister and they both protect and care for Ruth.Many things happen to eventually bring Ruth into a position of respectableness and she finally finds her way in the world Unfortunately, her past is rekindled and she is exposed as a corrupt and fallen woman Some of the wonderful things that I found in Mary Barton were not to be found with Ruth This novel was a story that was too extreme in its tragedy, Ruth had no fight and by the end I couldn t sympathize with her situation any longer On the other hand, I thought Mr Benson s character was incredibly interesting He had a physical challenge with his health but I thought he was strong and a plausible potential love interest Gaskell did a nice job in showing us the depth of his character and his struggles between his religious beliefs and Ruth s past He is so muchthan a black and white character and he sees the shades of gray that make it so difficult to judge others.If Gaskell wanted to impress upon the reader the double standard and incredible unfairness to women at that time, she could have been a little less heavy handed For me, giving Ruth a bitstrength and depth would have drawn me to her