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Round the Sofa

Round the Sofa is the title of a two-volume collection of short stories by the famous nineteenth-century English novelist and writer Elizabeth Gaskell. It includes “My Lady Ludlow,” “The Half-Brothers” and “An Accursed Race.” The latter is in the form of a historical essay that condemns the racism and the persecution exercised on a group of people named the Cagots in the west of France. “Round the Sofa” is also the title of the first short story of the collection. Narrated in the first person, “Round the Sofa” takes the form of a preface to the longer “My Lady Ludlow.” The young female narrator is ill and is sent to live near the house of her doctor, Mr. Dawson. After a number of visits, the narrator befriends Mrs. Dawson and expresses her true love for her: “But that Mrs. Dawson! The mention of her comes into my mind like the bright sunshine into our dingy little room came on those days; — as a sweet scent of violets greets the sorrowful passer among the woodlands.” It is Mrs. Dawson who, after long instance from the narrator, will tell the story of Lady Ludlow, the widowed Countess of Hanbury.
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