Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “North and South” as Want to Read:
North and South
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

North and South

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  92,530 Ratings  ·  4,948 Reviews
NORTH AND SOUTH (1854) by Elizabeth Gaskell is both a social commentary and the romantic story of a young lady, Margaret Hale, who is relocated with her family from the affluent South of England to the industrial North. Margaret comes in contact with the difficulties of the working class and her sympathies are engaged. She also encounters the fascinating John Thornton, a w ...more
Hardcover, 516 pages
Published November 12th 2007 by Norilana Books (first published May 1st 1854)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about North and South, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Trudy Brasure Mr. Thornton performs a hell of a lot of self-sacrifice as well. Why doesn't he also grow a spine? I'm acting as devil's advocate here to some degree,…moreMr. Thornton performs a hell of a lot of self-sacrifice as well. Why doesn't he also grow a spine? I'm acting as devil's advocate here to some degree, but I'm curious how working oneself to the bone for the sake of others can be interpreted as self-righteous and wimpy. Thornton and Margaret are a lot alike: they both struggle to support their families.(less)
Trudy Brasure Just for the record, that's a brilliant quote from the screenplay - the BBC mini-series. It's not in the book at all, but this quote helps summarize…moreJust for the record, that's a brilliant quote from the screenplay - the BBC mini-series. It's not in the book at all, but this quote helps summarize for the film viewers Margaret's loneliness and distraught feelings about the suffering she sees in Milton. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Barry Pierce
It's Pride and Prejudice for Socialists.
Blacky *Romance Addict*

Image Hosted by

This will be a quote/pic review, I don't have time for a long one, and this is such a classic, that whatever I write won't be good enough :)
There will be spoilers as some of my fav quotes, just so you know :)

Thornton and Margaret <3

"He almost said to himself that he did not like her, before their conversation ended; he tried so to compensate himself for the mortified feeling, that while he looked upon her with an admiration he could not repress, she looked at him with proud indifference, taki
Aug 29, 2011 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of pride and prejudice
I have just completed reading this book for the second time and it has been even better then the first time.

I'd already seen the BBC series before reading the first time so I already knew the story, and I wish I'd come to the books afresh in a way though I do not think that would have altered in anyway, the way I perceived them. Though Richard Armitage certainly does help and I swooned over Thornton even more.

What I love about North and South is the passion and the realness of the characters, th
Mar 19, 2015 Ailsa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 19th century lit in general
I can't quite put my finger on why I love this book quite as much as I do. And even for someone who does re-read books as much as I do, to get through 3 copies of one book is quite a feat. For me, the most remarkable achievement of Gaskell is that she is able to combine so many elements of various 19th century novelistic traditions and yet not have the novel collapse into incomprehensibility.

The broad scope of the novel, coupled with insightful depth and comment means that each reading of the bo
Feb 18, 2008 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because I'd seen the BBC production, and wondered if Margaret Hale would be less silly in the book. North and South sounds like it should be about social and geographic divisions, but it's actually about finding balance amidst constant change. Although I found her character annoyingly reactive, the Miss Hale of the novel is decidedly less silly than she of the movie.

I've read comparisons of Mr. Thornton to Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, but I don't personally see much likeness--aside from
Duchess Nicole
"And yet, yo see, North and South has both met and made kind o' friend in this big smoky place."

I almost feel like a fraud reviewing books like this. I know that there are probably many details that I miss entirely, some nuances that go straight over my head, but these are my thoughts...however scattered they are.

Margaret Hale's father has been the spiritual leader of his community of Helston for decades. Now he questions his faith...not necessarily his belief in God, but maybe the infallible c
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

So about 5 years ago a friend and I were fangirling about Jane Austen generally and debating the merits of the various film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice--Colin Firth and Elizabeth Garvie (from the 1980 BBC version) FTW, by the way--and she says, "You have to watch this!" and hands me a couple of DVDs of North and South. And I say "thank you" but I'm thinking to myself, well, Patrick Swayze was pretty hot back in the day, but why the heck is she giving me DVDs of a U.S. Civil War miniseries
Dec 02, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

I came to this novel, as is the case for many readers, through the BBC television adaptation, which I watched for the first time earlier this year. While I had not consciously avoided the novel and its adaptation until now, it's probably the case that I have been unconsciously avoiding Victorian fiction for some years, preferring the less ponderous novels of the earlier 19th century (particularly Austen) and the leaner style of 20th century fiction.

However at the moment I’m in the mood for Victo
Tea Jovanović
Apr 24, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prelepi klasik po kome je pre nekoliko godina snimljena nova serija koja je bozanstvena, onako kako samo Britanci umeju da urade serije i filmove po svojim klasicima... Ova autorka je kod nas uglavnom ignorisana od izdavaca ... Ali ko zna... mozda se i to promeni jednog dana... cuda su moguca... :)
Jason Koivu
Jun 20, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where Austen leaves off, Gaskell picks up.

There is a great similarity in the style of these two 19th century writers. Both wield language with elegance and strength. Call it muscle-bound eloquence!

Gaskell was born during the time in which Austen set most of her books...well round about then anyway. It's hard to tell exactly when most Austen novels are set, but generally they're meant to be prior to or during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). Gaskell was born in 1810.

However, Gaskell's writing
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Caution: Spoilers and Snark abound!

I’m afraid this review will not be popular with fans of the author, or those who see classic literature as unassailable. But after slogging through this book (especially so soon after discovering Villette, a truly excellent classic!), I feel obliged to warn potential readers, and let those who were disappointed with the book but wary about criticizing a classic know that they aren’t alone.

So, then: a recipe for North and South:

- Add one romantic plotline borrow
Jun 19, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit that until about a month ago, I had never heard of Elizabeth Gaskell. I stumbled on her work after watching the BBC's miniseries North & South, which I loved. (All of you Pride & Prejudice fans out there should check out North & South. It's wonderful.)

Anyway, I read up on Gaskell and found that she's a hidden gem of 19th century British literature. Her books have romance, but also strong social themes. North & South focuses on the factories and industrial workers in no
Oct 08, 2016 Madelyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"I wish I could tell you how lonely I am. How cold and harsh it is here. Everywhere there is conflict and unkindness. I think God has forsaken this place. I believe I have seen Hell and it's white, it's snow-white"
This is certainly a favorite classic of mine that I have enjoyed time and time again. The multi-layered plotline and political, as well as societal, elements, place this novel far ahead of its time.

One of the reasons
Oct 11, 2016 Carmo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglaterra
Norte e Sul é isso mesmo; um livro que nos mostra os contrastes entre o Norte e o Sul da Inglaterra vitoriana em meados do sé. XIX.

Um norte industrializado a braços com as primeiras greves e reivindicações por parte de uma população laboral explorada, frente a um patronato que ia enriquecendo às custas da fome de homens e mulheres que viviam numa evidente pobreza. Do braço de ferro e dos consequentes confrontos surgiram as primeiras negociações entre patrões e empregados, naquele que iria ser um
Jun 26, 2013 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Why have I not come across Elizabeth Gaskell's work before?! I have been missing out. I came across North and South through a recommendation from my good friend to watch the mini-series. So, eventually I did watch the mini-series and I absolutely loved it! I was intrigued by the characters and the story and I really wanted to read the novel. So in a few short days I began reading the original novel. And I really, really loved it.

The novel did seem quite daunting, being one of the longer classic
I've been having conversations with my sister over the various articles being written on McDonald's unethical procedures of late. It's not the first time the topic has come up, but it is the first time since she was hired at said company's behest to earn her pocket money. I'll talk about employees cleaning their uniforms off the clock, she'll point out the ease of our home bound washing machine, I'll comment on the level of her paycheck, she'll speak of the guarantee of college, I'll bring up ni ...more
Anneliese Bennion
On Sunday evening I finished reading Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. It's the book they based the wonderful BBC movie on, in case you were wondering. It took me three weeks, maybe four to read this novel. I think that's the longest time I've spent with a book this year (not including when I've reread some of my favorites). A couple of years back I remember starting this book, but for some reason or another I didn't finish it. Just recently I came upon a website that posted pictures from the ...more
Jul 12, 2016 Desislava rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Desislava by: Dolors
“But the future must be met, however stern and iron it may be.”

If I had to describe North and South with one sentence, it would probably be something like “Everyone is stubborn and lots of people die”. The novel is a story of contrast: the conception that people in the north are rough, ignorant and rude - nothing like the cultured and educated people in the more well-bred south of England.

Instead of the quiet peaceful of the English countryside, this story is set in the heart of the industri
Dec 10, 2015 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
I shall always remember ‘North and South’ as one of the last books that my mother and I discovered together. She loved books all her life, and even when her short term memory and her ability to follow a story faded she still appreciated lovely prose, being told about the books I was reading, and watching costume dramas on television. She loved the BBC adaptation of ‘Cranford’, and was able to recall studying the book and school and talk about how what she watched and heard compared with what she ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never really considered reading any Elizabeth Gaskell novels until I watched, and greatly enjoyed, the BBC adaptation of North and South.I have to say, I love both the book and the miniseries equally!

Mr Thornton has definitely acceded to the post of best literary hero in my mind (sorry, Mr Darcy!). I couldn't help but swoon over his thoughts. What a man!

One of the things I really loved about this book was how real the characters were. They had their insecurities, weaknesses and petty jeal
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
May 12, 2010 Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) by:
I just finished reading North and South. I had immediately preceded my read of Gaskell's North and South with a reading of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley; as they both tend to address the issues of life and love in the north of England and the interactions and differences between the gentry, the manufacturers, and the working class. Both novels involve quite serious romantic themes between gentlewomen and generally self-made Middle-class men struggling to forge prosperous businesses in the age of in ...more
Five Glorious Stars, and despite what I am about to say, this book is rated G for general audiences.

This is the novel that has forever changed the way I think about the Victorians, and particularly about Victorian women. We all have this picture in our heads of blushing innocents, swathed in great layers of petticoats, repressed, oppressed, and when forced to it, lying passively while thinking of England and all that.

Nope, I don’t think it was like that at all.

North and South is so richly comp
Penny Reid
Have you read this book?
If not, you should.
I wish I could read it again for the first time.

How he loves her will make an inescapable impression on you. If you are at all a romantic, this book is a must read.
May 28, 2007 Zeina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You could call this the industrial revolution version of Pride and Prejudice: woman of lesser means meets stern, rich man; she hates him; he loves her; she rejects him then learns to appreciate him and finally falls in love with him.
However, the roles are a little more complex.

John Thornton is a wealthy cotton manufacturer in Milton, but he's worked hard to get to the top. He's a nouveau riche with worn hands. Margaret is an ex-parson's daughter, fresh from the idyllic south, transplanted to di
Sep 24, 2007 Leanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book.

The writing is nineteenth century and may not be accessible for all readers, but I find this style soothing and rhythmic. More than anything, though, the book touches the romantic inside me.

A vast majority of the story has little to do with romance. Gaskell focuses much of the text on industrialization, unionization, and the human condition. These topics are not too terribly interesting to me, and I would normally feel impatient with these passages. But I was more than willing t
I was dusting my bookshelves the other day and decided to leaf through North and South in search of my favorite parts, and ended rereading it.


Oh, that Mr. Thornton! The things he makes me do.
To tell the truth I don't do rereads so often anymore, especially if I rated them anything under five stars. There are so many promising unread books on my shelves, that I give in to rereads, maybe once or twice a year.


Margaret Hale is a strong young woman. Her father, in a crisis of conscience, leaves his p
The Big Misunderstanding trope is quite popular, overused even, and yet it still seems to work for most books graced with a good plotline. Perhaps because, in life, misunderstandings big and small are omnipresent as air and sunlight, “little things lead people to misunderstand each other” as L. M. Montgomery would say.

In North and South, the misunderstanding that drives a wedge between the protagonists comes from prejudice on one side and from touchy pride on the other, traits that if combined w
Sherwood Smith
Reread yesterday. Gaskell is at her best with the tiny details of life that make the characters and the setting come to life: Margaret sitting on the worn carpet before the fire, the candles unlit until her parents appear. The observation about how two people, left alone in an enormous room, will speak in low voices as if "unwilling to awaken the unused echoes."

Gaskell's side characters are delightfully rounded, even if her hero and heroine are a tad too uprightly conventional: Mrs. Thornton's c
I loved this book. I found it a hard read because it is written as a narrative and as such it had so many details. I loved all the details. The dialect of the Higgin’s family was so alive with personality. I found it hard to read, but made the book even more perfect.

Mr. John Thornton in the book was just so emotional and seeing his heart open on the pages made me love him all the more. He was a good man and had such a way about him that sometimes came across as hard, but we could see his heart.

Oct 21, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Um. Everyone who enjoys a good book!
Recommended to Anne by: Becca, Hana, Tadiana, Soph, Marquise & many others!!

What's wrong with me?!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • He Knew He Was Right
  • Lady Audley's Secret
  • Daniel Deronda
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • Little Dorrit
  • Evelina
  • Belinda
  • No Name
  • Sylvester
  • The Making of a Marchioness, Part I and II (Emily Fox-Seton #1-2)
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
  • Catharine and Other Writings
  • Desperate Remedies
  • Shirley
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to socia ...more
More about Elizabeth Gaskell...

Share This Book

“I wish I could tell you how lonely I am. How cold and harsh it is here. Everywhere there is conflict and unkindness. I think God has forsaken this place. I believe I have seen hell and it's white, it's snow-white.” 703 likes
“I know you despise me; allow me to say, it is because you don't understand me.” 338 likes
More quotes…