Feathzzz's Reviews > North and South

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
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's review
Aug 04, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: romance, socially-political, classics, victorian-era
Recommended for: Anachronmistic Romantics
Read in August, 2011 , read count: 1

The romance in this novel is top-notch, some of the best (which I think is the reason for the Darcy comparisons.) It's seriously on that level. I'd say that I found the book's greatest acclaim to be how believable Mr.Thornton's emotions and passions were. Romance can so easily become cheap, silly, or unrealistic but both his and Margaret Hale's characters were masterly developed.

Kudos to Gaskell for writing so clearly about social class issues of her time. For 1855 it must have been a rather forward-thinking and intellectual novel (for the time, for the time), which wasn't as in vogue as now a days.

Now Margaret Hale's character.... what can I say? She's just WAY too angelic, and it's actually made far worse by the fact that the character is subtly believable. If her patience and sweet, obliging, temperate nature was over the top and vacuously written I could laugh and dissent. I honestly didn't dislike her while reading but neither was I evoked, she drew an emotional blank for me; I never cheered for her through the story, the Thornton’s were actually the ones who kept me most engaged, and let's admit Mr. Thornton is the real star this novel even though he gets less ink and paper time then Margaret. She's just too selfless, dutiful, and bearing. I represent for my bad girls and anti-heroines, and just don't feel a kindredness with her and the novel's sprit.

This probably accounts for the lower rating, but I acknowledge that's personal and not reflective of everyone. Although I also found that Gaskell uses far too many words, she has no idea of the benefits of being economical in writing. Often a statement is made more powerful by its concision. I'd more generally criticize that wordy style of writing combined with too much detail into the Hale's quaint life doesn’t make for an engrossing read. That said the book isn't terrible and I definitely enjoyed the usually high quality of romance.

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