Elizabeth Gaskell’s last novel, a tender story of parents, children and step-children, mistakes, and secrets, is considered her masterpiece Set in the watchful, gossiping society of Hollingford, this warm tale of love and longing centers on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, the spirited, loyal daughter of the local doctor. Their peaceful, close-knit home is turned upside down when he decides to remarry. While Molly struggles to adjust to her snobbish stepmother, she forms a close relationship with her glamorous new stepsister Cynthia. The strength of this friendship is soon tested as their lives become entwined with Squire Hamley and his two sons. Far more than a nostalgic evocation of village life, this novel offers an ironic critique of mid-Victorian society.