This charming and witty prequel to Cranford is a neglected Gaskell classic with all the period detail, distinctively drawn characters, and a well-knitted plot associated with her works
Enjoying the comforts of his well-kept home, country doctor William Harrison is prevailed upon by his longtime friend Charles, a bachelor, to dispense some advice on the "wooing and winning" of women’s affections. So begins the fascinating and varied recollections of one of Gaskell's best-loved characters. Lured to rural Duncombe by the promise of a partnership in a country practice, William finds himself trapped in claustrophobic provincial life where society is apparently presided over by the scheming of a set of under-occupied middle-aged women. Their supposed matchmaking prowess in fact leaves much to be desired; so much so, indeed, that before long the hapless young physician finds himself betrothed to three women—none of whom is the beautiful Sophy, the woman he truly desires. Chaotic, hilarious, and poignant, this comedy of manners—and of errors—will resonate with Gaskell aficionados and newcomers alike.