I believe that this book was a more relevant book, back in the time it was written. It is about Ruth, a fallen woman, and how she has to live with her reputation. It is a very, very sad book, and as with all of Gaskell's books, filled with illness and death.
It dragged in the middle and got more exciting as the book went on. The ending was a horrible, "happy" ending.
I guess I would say that I am glad I read the book, but I really didn't like it.