Beth's Reviews > North and South

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
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Apr 01, 2008

it was amazing
Read in March, 2007

I like to describe this book as a combination between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Gaskell has Austen's sense of the plight of women -- and also Austen's romance. She also has Dickens' social reformer tendencies, with a keen awareness of class issues and the perils of poverty. This book is very earnest about its social issues, and the herione's life during this book is chock-full of tragedy, so there is not as much wit and satire in this novel as in some of Gaskell's other work, or in Austen or Dickens. But it is a lovely, wonderful novel for all of that.

It's definitely a multi-dimensional story. Comparisons with Pride and Prejudice are unavoidable, and in my opinion, the most significant similarity is that both the hero and the heroine have to overcome significant prejudices and misunderstandings in order to fully appreciate each other. They are both evolving characters who you like much better at the end of the book than at the beginning.

This novel deals with culture clashes (rural south vs. industrial north) in the midst of the industrial revolution, labor and union strife, the relationship between the rich and the poor and the new mobility between riches and poverty. And, of course, it's a lovely romance. What more could you ask of a novel?
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Mimi And I finished Wifes and Daughters and it was wonderful. I was afraid it would feel too Austen-ish but not so at all. I am more and more a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell.


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