Wednesday, December 9, 2009

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Genre: Fiction

Publication Date: 1854

One Word Review: Somber

First Line: “Edith!” said Margaret, gently, ‘Edith!”

Synopsis: When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill-workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

Kathy’s Review: My husband was so excited when he saw me reading North and South…he thought it was about the Civil War. Anyway, I started out really excited to read this book, the story sounded like something right out of an Austen novel. Unfortunately, it lacked the charm and romance of Austens work. The first hundred pages or so I really enjoyed and was eagerly looking forward to when Margaret would move to Milton and meet Mr. Thornton. Unfortunately, once Margaret arrived in Milton the story really started to drag. There was more talk about the millworkers and the injustices they face than anything else. The best parts of the book for me, were when Mr. Thornton was present, which wasn’t as much as I would have liked. I liked Mr. Thornton quite a bit, he was completely in love with Margaret and even though she didn’t return those feelings he still cared about her and did things to help take care of her family.

The last part was really tedious for me; I skimmed over a lot of the story in an effort to finally finish. Although I found the second half rather slow, I felt the ending came too quickly. Some things were resolved, but I would have preferred if some aspects would have been given a little more time and attention. I enjoyed the attraction between Margaret and Mr. Thornton, and even the overall story. I just couldn’t get over the slow parts and felt at times that it was a never-ending book.

Okay, so a side note. I think I first became aware of this while reading a post on Angieville's site about the movie verison of this book (click here to read). Even re-reading it now actually makes me like the book a little more (Angie is a great writer). I'm excited to watch the movie version as soon as my library gets the copy in...if it takes too long I may just buy it.


  1. Gaskell is hard to read. The only book I really liked of hers is Wives and Daughters - which was also made into a movie. The movie version of North and South is fantastic. You'll love it, I think. The ending love scene is so awesome - even if the movie sucked it would be worth watching just to see that scene. Also Cranford was made into a movie which I couldn't read, but the movie was charming - Cranford is the movie that has the guy who I said I didn't like as Mr. Bingley, but I really like him in Cranford.
    Anyway hope that all made sense.

  2. Hey Mary-my library doesnt have it so now I'm debating about buying it at Borders (for $30!), I think I'll just call it a Christmas present. I'll probably take a little break from Gaskell, but maybe down the road I'll give her other books a try.

  3. There's and Elizabeth Gaskell set that has all three movies - Wives and Daughters, North and South and Cranford - I want it to have it. I think you should splurge and get it.

  4. I just looked it up and the collection is on sale at Amazon for $41.49. Normally it's $80.00. I think I'm going to get it. I think you won't regret getting it either.

  5. Okay - I just ordered it and I got free shipping and everything - I'm so excited. I've wanted this collection for awhile, but it was too expensive. Your post reminded me and I'm so happy I found a good deal.

    Thanks Kath

  6. Mary-lol! I'm kind of pathetic, but I went and bought the DVD from Borders today!! I watched the first half so it. I love the casting of Mr Thornton!! I have class so I'll have to wait and finish the rest later tonight, I cant wait!

  7. This is one of my all time favorite movies. SO delightful.


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