Wise as he is, Mr. Gibson makes one wrong move in his life, marrying a fizzy, dizzy woman, causing grief and dismay to his daughter Molly. Worse, Mrs G takes it upon herself to refine her step-daughter whom she feels has been allowed to run wild with the lack of a mother’s guiding hand. The author’s gentle mockery is lovely.

‘She wants the refinement which good society gives in several ways,’ said Mrs Gibson, returning to the attack on poor Molly. ‘She’s very apt to come upstairs two at a time.’

Source: Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters (London: Penguin Classics, 1986 (1866)), p. 276

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