Wives and Daughters, ch. 6
Both Mrs. Gaskell's other important novels are removed in time and place from the stresses of the contemporary situation. Sylvia's Lovers is a pastoral love-story set in Whitby at the close of the eighteenth century, nonpolitical, non-industrial, and Wives and Daughters is another excursion into Cranford territory. Its primary concern is the unstriking but eventful lives of ordinary people in a stable society, which for Mrs. Gaskell was as rich in interest for the novelist as any more controversial subject could be. The following passage illustrates the pastoral and archaic atmosphere which the novel breathes, and which is far removed from the strident flavour of the industrial stories:
When she named this to him after the meal was done, and they were sitting together in the drawing-room, waiting for the sound of the wheels of the Hamley carriage, he laughed and said-
'I'm coming over to-morrow to see Mrs. Hamley; and I 4~
daresay I shall dine at their lunch; so you won't have to wait long before you've the treat of seeing the wild beast feed.'