ode to four years of the long commute: how will the story end?

See that street sign down there?

I see it every time I drive south to DC and every time I head north to PA.

And every time, I think about the book by Elizabeth Gaskell (and about the movie).


I saw the movie before I read the book. I love both. I am of a mind to read the book again and then watch the movie. Let me know if you’d like to join me in either.

Once upon a tome, I bought Wives and Daughters by Ms. Gaskell, fully intending to read it. I think I even started it at some point.

Then I got married and moved to PA (read: the long commute started) and put the book down.

Some months later I got my hands on W & D in audio form. The books’ characters kept me company on my drive for several weeks. (It’s a long book, okay.) Although I must admit I don’t remember their names and situations now, I was quite involved in their world then. Especially the young lady whose prospects any reader (listener) worth her salt was meant to be most concerned about.

[Okay, I looked it up. Her name was Molly Gibson.]

A nice English gentleman was reading the book to me and was on the verge of telling me that everything was going to work out for Molly. I could sense it.

Much to my surprise and dismay, instead of starting a new chapter, he said something like, “And this is where the book ends because Elizabeth Gaskell died. So we’ll never know what would have happened to Molly because EG didn’t live to tell us. But isn’t this a great book? And isn’t EG a talented writer?”

Now. EG’s death is probably a sadder thing than Molly Gibson’s fictional unfinished love story. Probably. But come on. If I had known before I started the book that I was going to be left hanging, I might not have started.

Maybe you’re wondering how in the world I made it into my 30s without knowing that W & D is an unfinished work. I could wonder that, too. If it mattered.

The fact remains:  I didn’t know and was shocked and awed by the abrupt non-ending. I might go so far to say that there was trauma that, if not for my exceptional coping skills, could have left me unable to function in such a cruel world.

Do not fear. I coped. I told myself that Molly did live happily ever after with the love of her heart. And all was well.

Still, I feel a lot better knowing (now that I looked at the wikipedia entry for the book) that Andrew Davies and the BBC did a mini-series in 1999 that included an ending for Molly and her father and the Hamleys and Lady Harriet.

May seems like the perfect month to find a copy of said mini-series and put the trauma behind me once and for all. (Anybody have the DVD?)

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One Response to ode to four years of the long commute: how will the story end?

  1. ann says:

    I wish I could watch any and all of EG’s novels-made-into-movies with you.

    I didn’t know that about W & D either.


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