Mary Barton is the first novel by English author Elizabeth Gaskell, published in 1848. The story is set in the English city of Manchester between 1839 and 1842, and deals with the difficulties faced by the Victorian lower class. It is subtitled ''A Tale of Manchester Life''.
The setting of the novel - Manchester between 1837 and 1842, torn apart by industrial strife between mill owners and factory hands - is inherently interesting.
Mrs. Gaskell shows how factory workers lived in terribly squalid conditions and the affect this had on Mary Barton's (The protagonist) father. There is a murder which leads to a thrilling trial. The suspense is skillfully done, and you will be unwilling to put the book down.
Elizabeth Gaskell is a classic writer. Her characters have depth and her descriptions are detailed. She makes it hard to read modern works in which, most of the time, the writing is much thiner.
The author Gaskell lived in Manchester (trade town) and knew the conditions there very well. She does a great job at describing the real living circumstances of the rich and poor. The book is absolutely gripping in its portrayal of the very poor working people.
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