Top critical review
I was so happy to have this book over and done with
on 14 February 2017
I was so happy to have this book over and done with. There's nothing quite like sitting there and reading a book that drags on and on and you just want it to end! This isn't the worst book I've ever read, but when stuck with something that bored me so bad for so long . . .
This is one of my five special challenge books for the year, which is why I didn't want to give it up. I also watched the movie and loved that. So I really did go into this predisposed to like it. As in a lot of cases, the book was nothing like the movie. In an unusual twist, I'll say for only the second time in my life that the movie was better than the book.
The scenes are different, the conversations, the personalities in a lot of cases, the chain of events, etc. If I had to go every point that was different, I'd be here all day. But I'm judging the book, not the movie, so I'm not going to be posting pictures from the movie or let that tint my judgement.
The plot is dull, the characters are dull, the writing style was atrocious and made me feel like I was swimming through a sea of molasses with the only enticement to reach the other side being that I could leave.
The Hale's are an annoying family. The father is a weak-willed, selfish, lousy father/husband. He uproots his family without even asking for their opinions, waits as long as can be to tell them, then tells his daughter so she can tell the mother because he wants to put that unpleasant task on her because he's too cowardly to do it. He gave them hardly any time to reconcile to the idea or to plan and he didn't plan at all so the whole moving out was chaos.
Then he moves them to a place that's the exact opposite of where they lived so that he won't ever be reminded of their home, not even considering that maybe his wife and daughter would like a place that was like home.
The mother does nothing but mope and whine and ends up sick. The father continues to be oblivious and leave any unpleasantness up to Margaret. The mother spends most of the book cooped up in the house as an invalid imposing on everyone around her. She even throws this major hissy fit and cries like a spoiled child to get her way at one point. She guilts Margaret into writing to her brother despite it being dangerous for him to return. Not only is her manipulation of Margaret disgusting, but her lack of concern over the death sentence her son faces if he returns sealed her in my mind as a horrid person.
Dixon was the nosiest busybody who was way to uppity for her own good and I believe her friendship with Mrs. Hale did more harm than good in concerns to Mrs. Hale's relationships with her daughter and husband and her own petulant attitude.
Margaret was the most emotionless, doormat of a character you could ever hope to meet. She's snobby and aloof but we must always talk about her like she's this angel who's presiding over everything. She never does anything wrong and supposedly the fact she's such a snob who barely condescends to speak or look at people makes her desirable as a fine lady.
Thornton is the only interesting character of the lot. He was actually a character I could relate with. He had a personality, he had good and bad points, he treated people well, had a practical head on his shoulders, and was probably the only reason I could continue.
The romance is one-sided with Thornton being smacked over Margaret. The ending was unsatisfactory as I hoped that maybe we'd see a shift in Margaret's thoughts towards him as being someone she loved and then maybe some romance. Instead it's more like Thornton asks again and she reluctantly says okay, maybe we can have something.
I don't understand why he liked her.
I stopped reading at 35% percent to read Oliver Twist and after getting sucked into that, I was again faced with picking this back up and realized just how badly I didn't want to. I knew I wasn't enjoying it before that point, but only when you get to the point of not wanting to pick a book back up do you sometimes realize how much you're dreading it. I had gone too far to quit, especially because it's one of my special challenge books, but also not so far as to feel near the end. I think I read 5 other books before I hit the end of this nightmare as I had to keep switching to something else out of sheer boredom.
I'll never read another Gaskell book. If nothing else the droning, monotonous writing style is to be avoided at all costs. I couldn't face that again, not even if there was a decent plot with better characters.
Stick to the movie!!! SO MUCH BETTER! The setting and names of characters are about all that's the same. Scenes cut, scenes added, new dialogue, characters personalities are changed, etc.