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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book with some great moments
I have to admit that I saw the BBC mini-series before reading the book, I know, shame on me for not reading more, but the thing is that I decided to read it to check how good was the adaptation and found in the first place a good book to read, nice characters, some great literary moments and interesting use of dialogue, slang, northern accent that makes it an amazing...
Published on 31 Mar 2007 by AGDA

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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 Rearda


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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book with some great moments, 31 Mar 2007
This review is from: North and South (Paperback)
I have to admit that I saw the BBC mini-series before reading the book, I know, shame on me for not reading more, but the thing is that I decided to read it to check how good was the adaptation and found in the first place a good book to read, nice characters, some great literary moments and interesting use of dialogue, slang, northern accent that makes it an amazing novel, and secondly, the adaptation in this case has been great, fantastic, probably due to the fact that Gaskell creates characters, dotes on them, offering us a complete view into their core, sometimes we get too much information but, I am not complaining. Thornton is one of those characters that will go with you for the rest of your life.

Hope you like it too.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate novel, exploring love within a changing society, 14 Jan 2003
By A Customer
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.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and strife in Victorian times, 1 April 2007
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!
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story which still has resonance today, 30 Nov 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: North and South (Paperback)
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 the rural south of England when circumstances force her to move to a rather grim northern city. The story of how she gets to know some of the people, in particular John Thornton one of the mill owners, and begins to understand their way of life is a compelling one. Anyone who has been watching the BBC adaption of North and South should read this book. The story has been been changed slightly to appeal to modern audiences but the essence is still there. Elizabeth Gaskell has been overlooked for far too long, in my opinion. Hopefully this will bring her to the notice of another generation of readers.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Good, 3 Feb 2005
This review is from: North and South (Paperback)
I would certainly recommend this novel. I read it before the TV series came along, and loved it for itself. I read half the book in one night - so desperate was I to find out what happened - although I later regretted having almost skimmed through parts of it. This is a book with a lot to offer - from gritty portrails of life in working mill town, to the beautiful romance that is entwined in the dirt and grime like a silken ribbon slinking through a brier bush. The contrasts between the supposed ideallic life in the South and the harsh North are blurred and erased, as stereotypes are broken down through personal contact as the pages progress. It is a delight to read, giving delight to anyone with a romantic heart, or the harder feelings of someone interested in dealing with issues of empathy with the Victorian working classes.
Read it. You would a stoic indeed to regret it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for Victorian Lit lovers, 17 May 2010
By 
Boof (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read, 29 Nov 2004
This review is from: North and South (Paperback)
I've never written a review before but reading this novel has moved me enough to do so. After a lacklustre start, it picks up pace and really draws the reader in. I finished this just before the BBC1 adaptation, which although very good cannot convey the richness of the book in four episodes (although the dvd is a must buy)
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.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars North & South! An Absolute Must!, 20 Nov 2004
By 
G. Cooke "Chic-Lit" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: North and South (Paperback)
This book is the tie in edition to the currently aired series of North and South on BBC1! So if you've missed it or simply cant wait till the end, I suggest you buy it!
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still very vivid and satisfying after a hundred and fifty years, 28 April 2011
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
One of the great `social novels' of the mid-19th century, North and South is still eminently readable today. On one level, it's the story of what happens when young Margaret Hale moves from Hampshire with her parents (her father having resigned as a Church of England vicar for reasons of conscience) to Milton-Northern, a thinly-disguised industrial Manchester. In particular, the novel recounts the tale of industrial strife between mill owners and oppressed workers, some of whom Margaret befriends, very much against the middle-class `proprieties' of the time. At the same time, she is gradually - and reluctantly - romantically entangled with straightforward mill owner John Thornton.

But on another level, as Sally Shuttleworth's excellent introductory essay makes clear, this is very much an ideological novel. Its central debates are around the questions of how free - or not - Victorian women were to act on their own initiative, and how much they should be obedient to authority. And although, as Shuttleworth notes, the novel ends ambiguously, with Margaret holding the financial keys to rebuilding of Thornton's fortune while he clearly holds emotional sway over her, Margaret is, for much of the novel, very much her own woman. A strong character set against her brother's and her parents' weakness, she it is who acts at decisive moments in behalf of the workers, defending their cause against the insistence of mill owner Thornton that he be allowed to be `master in his own house'. Through her eyes, we see a far more sensitive and nuanced portrayal of working-class agitation than was typical for the fiction of Gaskell's time. And although the central scene of Thornton's confrontation with the workers is quite melodramatic, Margaret's involvement is again key to its resolution.

A memorable heroine, then; a fine story; and a highly intelligent commentary on the currents of thought and prevailing attitudes of the time. And although guardedly optimistic about the possibilities for something better in place of strife, with a measure of workplace harmony restored and the prospect of marriage beckoning for Margaret at the novel's end, there's enough here to make what must have been a terrifically unsettling novel for the Victorians a very vivid and satisfying read a hundred and fifty years later.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic romance at its best, 17 July 2010
Absolutely fantastic! The TV adaptation starring Richard Armitage made me want to read the book, and although the adaptation was good, the book is marvellous. Wonderfully told, the writing makes you feel a part of the story and all of the characters (even the not-so-nice Mrs Thornton, John's mother) have personalities which make you care about them and their individual outcomes. The lead male character, Mr Thornton, could easily give Mr Darcy a run for his money too!
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