53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story which still has resonance today
This has been a favourite book of mine since I first read it nearly 20 years ago. It has parallels with Pride and Predjudice and many of Dickens' novels. The main theme is a passionate love story involving two very strong people from different worlds. It is set against a backdrop of the Industrial Revolution. Margaret Hale has led a very quiet and sheltered life in...
Published on 30 Nov 2004
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book; but a very poor edition - full of errors
The story is excellent; a really enjoyable read and I would recommend it to Jane Austen fans, though it is set in the Victorian era. A cosseted country parson's daughter finds herself in a northern industrial town where the blunt speech and local customs are unfamiliar to her; and she decides to learn to understand and help her poorer neighbours, which sets her at odds...
Published on 23 July 2011 by Cuivienna
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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story which still has resonance today,
By A Customer
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book with some great moments,
Hope you like it too.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Good,
Read it. You would a stoic indeed to regret it.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and strife in Victorian times,
This review is from: North and South (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)I loved the BBC adaptation but waited a while before reading the book so it would be fresh. And having just finished this book, what a great story! Political strife, supressed passion, women's rights, class conflict. The fact that Margaret Hale is a strong woman with her own mind (albeit misguided at times) made this story much more believable and enjoyable for me. Despite some bits that might be a little drier to read, I couldn't put it down once I got past the first few chapters. Bear with it! I think it helped having a picture of Richard Armitage in my head as Mr Thornton, as you don't really get an idea of how he looks from the story. However, I'm now watching the BBC adaptation again and have noticed that some really key parts of the story are changed from the book and remove some of the more subtle parts of the story. Plus they seem to make Mr Thornton a much less likeable character than in the book. So I thoroughly recommend this book. A much more exciting and believable story than many of the other Victorian novels I've read - or never managed to finish reading!
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars north and south,
However I think that both the book and the series are a must, especially if you are a fan of "pride and Prejudice" as both have very proud strong male and female lead roles.
I only hope the TV series is put onto DVD as this would be another must for the collection.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read,
Gaskell has vividly described the difference between the North and South that existed 150 years ago. You can imagine the beauty of the New Forest and feel the despair felt by the Hales when they move to smoky, dirty yet honest town of Milton (Manchester?)
the cotton mills and the poverty spring to life in your mind, but the one thing that makes this novel what it is is the physical attraction that Thornton feels for Margaret, as well as being attracted by her intelligence. He notices small things like bracelets tightening the flesh of her arm and stops her from having to testify in court.N&S has been unfavorably compared to Pride and Prejudice but P&P, whilst being very good, is not as gritty or as real as N&S. I think Miss HAle is far more likeable than Miss Bennett. It is certainly Gaskell's best novel and if you are a fan of romance or (a little dated) 19th century social commentary, don't let this book pass you by.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate novel, exploring love within a changing society,
By A Customer
This review is from: North and South (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)For me, Elizabeth Gaskell is the Victorian's Jane Austen. She wrote enduring love stories featuring characters the reader cares about, and this novel continues that record. The relationship of Margaret and Thornton is tempestuous and full of twists and turns, with its misunderstandings, unacknowledged passions and fiery exchanges. Gaskell handles the sexual attraction between these characters skilfully, communicating as she does within the far less sexually-open idiom of the Victorian novel (check out the scene where Margaret saves Thornton from the rioters, or the bit when, whilst having tea with the Hales's, Thornton is transfixed by a bracelet tightening the flesh on Margaret's arm).
Adding an extra depth to the novel are the contemporary Victorian social issues which are addressed within its pages - the decreasing social distinction between the classes, the rise in female empowerment - but don't let these put you off. They are so carefully woven in to the inherent fabric of the plot that there is no struggle to understand the significance they would have had.
In short, this is a fantastic book - Margaret and Thornton remind me of Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth and Darcy, with their stormy, unacknowledged passion for one another and their intellectual compatibility. And just like Pride and Prejudice, this novel is filled with the kind of pleasurable scenes that you'll want to read over and over again.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for Victorian Lit lovers,
This review is from: North and South (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)This book has it all: class conflict, politics, religion, women's rights and passion! It makes you think, it makes you reflect on what was and it makes you ponder how we got from there to where we are now. We smile with them, we cry with them.
North and South (originally called Margaret Hale, after the pricipal character, until Charles Dickens made Gaskell change it) starts with a little rose-covered cottage in the countryside in the south of England where Margaret Hale lives with her Pastor Father, her mother and their servants. Margaret loves the outdoors; she loves to sketch nature and spends a carefree and idyllic youth milling around the land and helping neighbours with various acts of charity. Towards the end of Margaret's teens, her father announces that he has abandoned the church and because of this the whole family is uprooted to Milton-Northern (apparantly based on Gaskell's home town of Manchester) to start again.
Milton is an industrial town in the north of England and not only is the landscape the polar opposite of Margatet's hometown of Helstone, with factories, smoke, noise and polution, but also the townsfolk are quite different from those she is used to. I found this very interesting, and this is why I think Dickens was absolutely right to make Gaskell change the title: there is still a divide even today between the north and the south in England, although not on the same scale as back in the Victorian era, no doubt. I am from the north of England (Yorkshire) and northerners, even today, have a reputation for speaking their mind and being somewhat brash. We are also known for being friendly and open, where as southerners are thought of as being unfriendly (even rude) and looking down their noses at northerners. These are all stereotypes, you understand, but there is no smoke without fire, as they say.
The story centres around the town of Milton and, in my opinion, the actual town is the protagonist, rather than Marageret Hale. Margaret is the voice of the book and it is through her eyes that we see this new world that she inhabits; we see her eyes open to the poverty and suffering of her townsfolk, the difference between those who have and those who have not, but it is Milton who is the largest character.
Margaret quickly befriends a local man, Nicholas Higgins, who is a mill worker and struggling to bring up his two daughters, Betsy and Mary, after his wife's death. Bessy is gravely ill from "fluff" which Margaret discovers is a result of working in one of the factories and she is appalled by the conditions that this family, and others around the Higgins' have to live in. She takes it out on John Thornton, a self-made businessman and mill-owner and who is also a pupil of her father (he is studying literature with him) and when the workers start to revolt and strike against the mill-owners she believes that Mr Thornton has done wrong by his workers. Mr Thornton is a proud man, and although he is in love with Margaret, he knows that he will never be good enough for her and he is aware of Margaret's dislike and contempt for him and his ways but he cannot help falling passionately in love with her. When the riots occur at the factory Margaret shields him with her own body when they start to throw things at him and afterwards he confesses his love for Margaret which horrifies her as she has acted upon charity and would have done the same for anyone.
The move to Milton and change of scenery and circumstances affect the whole family very badly, especially Margaret's mother, Mrs Hale, whose health is continuously failing her. Margaret, knowing that her mother doesn't have long left to live, gets in touch with her brother Frederic (whom is a family secret as Frederic is a former officer of the Navy and is in hiding and wanted for having been the ringleader of a mutiny). His return would cost him his life, but Margaret takes the risk for her mothers sake and writes him a letter begging him to return as soon as possible. Frederic arrives and spends some time with his beloved family, but has to leave almost immdiately as he is terrified of being discovered. Mr Thornton sees him & his sister saying their goodbyes at the station and takes them for lovers. That is the first time that Margaret realizes she cares about the possible loss of his good opinion of her and fears that she is now falling in love with him just at the time when she believes that he is falling out of love with her.
Another sad and unforseen event takes Margaret back to London to stay with her cousin Edith and her family, but she doesn't relalise that Mr Thornton is going through a financial crisis that is about to change his world too. Now you need to read it yourself to find out what happens!
I believe this book to be vitally important to understanding how far we have come today in such a short period of time; afterall it was only written 160 years ago. But more than that, for me, it is also a fantastic psychological study of human nature and behaviour and shows us how little that changes over the years: we still have strikes, rebellion, politics change very little, people still love and despair and are proud and passionate - that doesn't change.
For anyone who loves Victorian novels, social commentary, history in the making and love stories - this is for you
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully told tale of Romance & Other Things.,
This review is from: North and South (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)My first foray into the books of Elizabeth Gaskell and certainly not my last as I am already part way through " Wives & Daughters." Set in the mid 1800s it relates the story of the Hale family, father, mother and our heroine, daughter, Margaret Hale. It opens with Margaret being reunited with her parents after living with relatives in London for the previous ten years, being companion to her rich and spoiled cousin, Edith. Edith is now to be married and the Hale family is to be whole once more in the country where the father is a curate in the tiny village of Helstone. Father has a crisis of conscience, gives up his living and moves the Hales to the northern mill town of Milton. Although not by any means a rich family the Hales (apart really from Mr. Hale) almost immediately suffer a culture shock in this, a dirty, smoky, foggy but vibrant mill town. The resultant story is one of disasters, tragedies and the beginning of a will they-won't they get together when we are introduced to what I will call the hero of the story, John Thornton a successful mill owner. Ms Gaskell paints a very exact and intuitive picture of the poverty and hard working "folk" of the North and compares it very dramatically with the goings on in the affluent and snobby South. (Is there much difference today I ask myself?) We are introduced to some wonderful Northern characters together with much Northern dialect, which is a joy to read. The tale is heartwarming and at times very sad as the Hale family and their Northern acquaintances seem to veer from one disaster to another. We are even entertained with a bit of "trouble in t' mill!! For a novel written about days gone by I found much of it a real page turner which I have not found in other books of the same ilk. My only regret and this is not a criticism is that the "ending" did not last another couple of pages....I am ever a romantic at heart!!
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars North & South! An Absolute Must!,
I wont go into a synopsis of the story but give you a reader's opinion...
Unlike most adaptations to television, im happy to inform that the series remains true to the text and it a seriously excellent read!
A huge point would be that you wont require a dictionary to read it! It's right up there with Pride and Prejudice and I can't credit it enough! An absolute must!
The characters have amazing depth, and you really care about them and their situations. Elizabeth Gaskell is a fabulous descriptive writer on the time and setting of this story! Its Pride and prejudice meets the industrial revolution!
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North and South [with Biographical Introduction] by Elizabeth Gaskell