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on 31 March 2007
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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on 30 November 2004
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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on 14 January 2003
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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on 3 February 2005
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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on 14 January 2010
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!!
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on 29 November 2004
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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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 31 October 2014
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.
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on 20 November 2004
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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on 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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on 21 November 2004
Having watched the first episode of the BBC drama I enjoyed it so much that I was compelled to buy the book and read it before the 2nd episode hit the screen. As with many TV adaptations the storyline is altered to please modern day tastes.
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.
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