• by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Narrated by Eve Matheson
  • 16 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible
The orphaned heroine Ruth, apprenticed to a dressmaker, is seduced by wealthy Henry Bellingham who is captivated by her simplicity and beauty. Their affair causes her to lose her home and job to which he offers her shelter, only to cruelly abandon her soon after. She is offered a chance of a new life though shamed in the eyes of society by her illegitimate son. When Henry reappears offering marriage she must choose between social acceptance and her own pride. Ruth ultimately finds a path that affirms we are not bound to repeat our mistakes.
A social audiobook of love, family and hypocrisy, it examines the Victorian views about sin and the social stigma of illegitimacy. Gaskell is compassionate in her portrayal of Ruth who would normally be outcast from respectable society.
Ruth was the first mainstream novel to cast a 'fallen woman' in the role of heroine and inevitably caused controversy when published. It predates Hardy's own such heroine in Tess of the d'Urbervilles by nearly 40 years.
Gaskell was an accomplished writer and had much of her work published in Charles Dickens' magazine Household Words. She was also friends with Charlotte Brontë and after her death, her father, Patrick Brontë, chose Gaskell to write The Life of Charlotte Brontë.
Narrator Biography
As well as a substantial portfolio of voiceover work, Eve Matheson's career spans audiobooks, theatre, television, film and radio. She has narrated several audiobooks, including Tracy Chevalier's Falling Angels and Erica James' Act of Faith, and documentaries including Fermat's Last Theorem (1996) which won several awards including a BAFTA. On screen, she is best known for her roles as Becky Sharp in the 1987 BBC adaptation of the novel Vanity Fair and as Zoe Angell in May to December (1989-1990). She has frequently appeared at the Royal National Theatre and in the West End, playing roles such as Cordelia in King Lear, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream and as Lady Anne in Richard III. From 2005-2006, she appeared as Mrs. Milcote in the original Royal National Theatre production of Helen Edmundson's Coram Boy. Her recent television appearances have included roles in Silent Witness (2015) and Call the Midwife (2014).


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


In some ways this is a deeply sentimental, predictable story, in which Ruth, like Tess D'Urberville, is hung out to dry by her author. Compared with the much feistier heroines of the Brontes,Ruth can seem implausibly passive. But it is still a fascinating and gripping account of Victorian mores, and one that makes the listener all the happier to be living in the 21st century. Beautifully read by Eve Mattheson who at least doubles the pleasure.
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- Lisa

A window into Victorian Britain

Elizabeth Gaskell?s excellent 3-dimensional characters (Mr. Bradshaw, whose inflexible adherence to his interpretation of the bible make him tragically mistaken in his belief that he is good whilst his actions make him cruel and heartless; Mr. Benson, who believes, erroneously ? also because of rigid Victorian religious views ? that he is evil, whilst in reality he is charitable and Christ-like in his attitude to ?sin?) give a true insight into Victorian society.
Apart from some seemingly endless ramblings in sections of Ruth, in the main, it is a thoughtful, skilfully structured novel which gives a vivid portrayal of how it was to live in Victorian times.
Eve Matheson is quite brilliant in her narration and portrayals of all the characters. I highly recommend this audiobook.
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- Nancy Bowring

Book Details

  • Release Date: 30-01-2008
  • Publisher: Audible Studios