Literary Knitters: Wives and Daughters

Miss Browning and Miss Phoebe (from the BBC adaptation)
"You seem to have seen a great deal of Mr. Roger, Molly!" said Miss Browning, in a way intended to convey a great deal of meaning to her sister and none at all to Molly. But—

The man recovered of the bite;
The dog it was that died.

Molly was perfectly aware of Miss Browning's emphatic tone, though at first she was perplexed as to its cause; while Miss Phœbe was just then too much absorbed in knitting the heel of her stocking to be fully alive to her sister's nods and winks.

"Yes; he was very kind to me," said Molly, slowly, pondering over Miss Browning's manner, and unwilling to say more until she had satisfied herself to what the question tended.

"I daresay you will soon be going to Hamley Hall again? He's not the eldest son, you know, Phœbe! Don't make my head ache with your eternal 'eighteen, nineteen,' but attend to the conversation. Molly is telling us how much she saw of Mr. Roger, and how kind he was to her. I've always heard he was a very nice young man, my dear. Tell us some more about him! Now, Phœbe, attend! How was he kind to you, Molly?"

I love this quote from Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters. I think that Mrs Gaskell must have been a knitter, as she really catches Miss Phoebe's absorption in her knitting, and the frustration this can have for people you are living with. 

I greatly enjoyed reading Wives and Daughters for a number of reasons, not least the knitting, but also because there is a good character in the book who shares my name. Much as I love Jane Austin, I've never quite forgiven her for Harriet Smith, who I fear is not the best person to share a name with. Lady Harriet in Wives and Daughters, however, is someone I'm much happier sharing a name with.

Molly and Lady Harriet (from the BBC adaptation)

Mrs Gaskell has a great sense of humour throughout the book, even poking fun at her own profession as a novelist;

Mrs. Goodenough, privately thought reading a great waste of time, that might be much better employed in sewing, and knitting, and pastry-making,

Hum ...  a bit of balance is needed I think, there is time for reading as well as sewing, knitting and pastry-making. As I hope this blog, in a small way, shows :)


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