Milton is a sooty, noisy northern town centered around the cotton mills that employ most of its inhabitants. Arriving from a rural idyll in the south, Margaret Hale is initially shocked by the social unrest and poverty she finds in her new hometown. However, as she begins to befriend her neighbors, and her stormy relationship with the mill-owner John Thornton develops, she starts to see Milton in a different light.
Various friends, bloggers and professors have been nagging me to read North and South, and eventually while talking about the mini-series on Twitter, Gail of Ticket to Anywhere decided to fix this problem by hosting the North and South read-a-long. I cannot believe I waited this long to read this novel. Beautifully written and filled with multi-dimensional characters, North and South now has a place on my favorites shelf.
Maybe it’s the fact that I hang out with so many Austen lovers, but I’ve heard a lot of people compare this novel with Pride and Prejudice, so I wanted to clear the air in regards to this. Don’t get me wrong, the two novels definitely have their similarities. However, the two female protagonists are very different. Margaret Hale is expressive of her opinions, but she’s also very religious. North and South also deals much more with the industrial class and issues surrounding trade, which was really interesting. I think I’d absorb it better if I re-read the novel.
The entire novel was wonderfully paced, especially the romance. Gaskell kept throwing in plot twists, and I never quite saw them coming. I found Thornton to be a dynamic and entertaining as a love interest, yet still attractive. Mrs. Thornton, his mother, is a character who I enjoyed hating throughout the novel. By the time the story ended, I loved how everything tied together.
North and South has been one of the most fantastic books I’ve read this year. I’ve met characters who I look forward to revisiting in future readings. Fans of Austen will love North and South. I can’t wait to read more by Gaskell.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.