This is supposed to be her masterpiece. It's mostly about a girl and her father and what happens when he decides (after being a widower for many years) to remarry. It's very slow-paced, which is fine in the beginning when you're still getting a feel for the characters and the setting. It starts to drag, though, when the action gets going, and you want to know how things are going to resolve themselves and she takes 300 pages to do it!
The main problem: Gaskell died before she finished the book! No one told me and the story ends with only a chapter or two to go. It was really frustrating after investing myself for 650 pages. Maybe other versions have added an ending, but mine didn't.
But I've got my name in for the DVD at the library. I've heard the movie version is very good, so if you don't want to slog through the text, that is another option because it really is a good story. :)