ISBN-13: 9780141442365
Publisher: Penguin Group
Published: April 2010
Source: Personal Library

The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories is a collection of gothic tales written by various well-known writers during the 19th century to early twentieth century. Elizabeth Gaskell's The Old Nurse's Story is the first story of this anthology and this was first published in Charles Dickens' weekly periodical Household Words in 1852.

The Old Nurse's Story is unlike any other gothic tales I have read, for its first opening line started with a second person narrative, in which I confess it is not my favourite narrative mode to read, but yet I find it works quite well here. Here is the opening line:
You know, my dears, that your mother was an orphan, and an only child; and I dare say you have heard that your grandfather was a clergyman up in Westmoreland, where I come from.
This is a tale of an old nurse named Hester (which does not disclose until towards the middle) as she recalls her experience working as a charge to a young Miss Rosamond in Furnivall Manor. Hester plays a huge role in Miss Rosamond's life since she is an orphan; and the house where they are moving in happens to be some old relatives of Miss Rosamond's family. Despite the huge and isolated manor, the household consists only of the ageing Miss Furnivall and a few housekeepers.

Hester and Miss Rosamond are quite adjusted to their new life there, until one evening she hears someone playing the organ despite that it is all broken and destroyed inside. However, that is not all to it as she is also curious about the east wing of the house that is always stayed locked. The true terror only begins when Hester found Miss Rosamond has gone missing one day and this allows her to learn of the old secrets that has been tormenting Miss Furnivall for years.

The Old Nurse's Story has all the right elements of a great gothic tale - an atmospheric setting of an old manor no doubt, a dark secret and the strange behaviour among the Furnivall's household.

As much as this is a ghost story, I think it is more appropriate to say this is also very much a sad and tragic story and this is where I need to put an end to this post. My verdict? I loved it!
11 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    The story sure does sound scary! I'm glad to see that you like the book, Melody :) Does this mean you'll be reading more books from this author? :)

  2. Anonymous Says:

    ooooh...ghost stories, I love the sound of this one. I love reading horror.

  3. The Bookworm Says:

    sounds so good! I always enjoy a ghost story.

  4. Ana S. Says:

    I'm so glad you loved this! I read an anthology of all her Gothic stories last year and this was one of my favourites.

  5. Veens Says:

    I LOVE this... I gotto get this too!

  6. I have one of Elizabeth Gaskell's books in my TBR pile and your review of this story makes me want to pull it out and read it right now.

  7. bermudaonion Says:

    This looks like the perfect book for October here in the US.

  8. Terri B. Says:

    I just read and reviewed this story myself. I loved it! I thought it was interesting that Mrs. Gaskell managed to address (in a minor way) some of the social issues of her day (as her novels do) even in one of her supernatural tales. Happy reading!

  9. Kailana Says:

    I really want to read this, but my library doesn't have it. Since I have been saying that a lot lately, it will probably take me a while to get to it!

  10. Shelley Says:

    I would love to get my hands on this collection! This story by Gaskell sounds good.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Gaskell is a favorite novelist, but I have not read any of her short stories. This one sounds worth seeking out. Is the rest of the Penguin collection as good? - Fay

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