6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully told tale of Romance & Other Things.
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,...
Published on 14 Jan. 2010 by Yorkie's Mum
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty enjoyable - but could have been better
The cover has changed since I bought it - this one is much more appropriate (even though the Thornton character does look far too caddish) than a picture of what appears to be a scantily clad fifteen year old girl - but it is the right edition. To be honest I was expecting something better after "Wives and Daughters" and "Cranford". I think the problem is that the novel...
Published 20 days ago by DB
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6 of 6 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!!
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate novel, exploring love within a changing society,
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.
53 of 56 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 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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic love story packed with grit, romance, tragedy and a whole lot of heart...,
I can't believe it's taken me so long to finally read this! I fell in love with the story when I first saw the adaptation on TV, bought the book (and the DVD!) soon afterwards... and it has been sitting on my shelves for FIVE YEARS waiting for me to finally get my act together! Anyway, it was definitely not a short read, but so very worth it.
Basic storyline: Margaret Hale and her family move to the Northern industrial town of Milton from their sweet Southern village. The whole family is uprooted and struggles to settle into the smoky, noisy, dank atmosphere of their new home. Their earliest acquaintances there are the Thorntons - dignified Mrs Thornton, her silly daughter Fanny, and her handsome son John, wealthy master of the Marlborough Mills and a famous name in cotton. Despite Mr Thornton's best efforts, Margaret believes Milton society to be inferior to their status as gentlefolk, and so the scene is set for a 'Pride and Prejudice'-esque story of wounded egos, longing glances, misunderstandings and, finally, true love.
Despite the similarities between this novel and the Austen favourite, there are big differences. This book is much more complex, and much grittier, leaning further towards Dickens in some respects. The poverty of the Milton workers, in which Margaret takes a philanthropic interest, is a major focus of the novel. The misfortunes of the Higgins and Boucher families, and their constant struggles against injustice, illness and uncaring employers, are carefully explored and movingly rendered. At the same time the progressive ambitions and difficult decisions made by the masters are never overlooked, providing a balanced view of industrial progress in the mid-19th century. And alongside all this Gaskell pointedly shows the contrast between the frivolity of the London social scene and the harsh life of Milton, as well as slowly drawing the reader deep into the lives of the Hale family, who have their own preoccupations, hardships and tragedies to bear.
All in all, this is a wonderful novel. It provides a fascinating insight into a time and an existence very different to modern life, while never losing the intimacy that draws the reader into the lives of these characters. I cried several times over the course of the novel, and had the HUGEST smile on my face at the inevitable and well-deserved happy ending. These characters burrowed their way into this reader's heart over the course of the book, and I've learned a little to boot. A fantastic read - and if you haven't seen the BBC adaptation with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, you should! It's what started my love affair with this story and I've been watching it very happily as I've been reading... Highly recommended.
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story which still has resonance today,
By A Customer
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.
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Good,
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than just a period romance,
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This review is from: North and South (Kindle Edition)
In the days before my kindle my favourite reads were period romances and while now my kindle has opened up a whole new world of books, in fact I'm spoilt for choice with MC's, shifters, vampires...the list goes on and on but you really can't beat a good classic.
I originally read North and South years ago and while I enjoyed the relationship between Margaret and John it was the poverty and suffering of the mill workers which really caught my attention. After the BBC drama I read the book again and this time it was the romance I felt drawn to, the difference age makes, I suppose.
This is an interesting read which covers the struggle and social injustice of the workers, it has great interesting characters and the relationship between John and Margaret builds and simmers throughout the book. I'm glad that I now have this on my kindle since even though I was adamant that I wouldn't give up 'actual' books in reality I find I read them less and less these days.
I always thought of 'North and South' as the industrial northern version of 'Pride and Prejudice' less ribbons and balls and more poverty and suffering and while I like both books 'Pride and Prejudice' is I think my favourite book of all time maybe because it's the book that made me fall in love with reading.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read,
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.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and strife in Victorian times,
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!
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars North & South! An Absolute Must!,
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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