Classics Without All the Class discussion

North and South
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May 2014 - North and South > North and South is Open

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Shanea | 358 comments This folder is officially ready for action.
How are you going about reading this month's book?


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Gail Ritter (gail0) Ha! I just took a break after 400-some pages, and read another book. Hope I can finish North and South by the end of the month!!


RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 14 comments I'm reading a lot of books right now. The way I'm reading North and South is by doing 25% a week. I should have it done by the end of the month. :)

I'm only on page 5 right now.


John I'm half way through and I don't like it. It's Jane Austen meets Charles Dickens. But it's not witty like Austen and the characters aren't fun like Dickens. There's so much self pity. I don't get any of the characters. I see that it's gotten tons of good reviews. I'm probably missing something.
I'm putting it down. I'll try to pick it up in a few weeks.


Ebster Davis | 9 comments I this will be thr first time I've read a book twice in a row! Looking forward to it very much.


Ebster Davis | 9 comments @John ita got a bunch of reviews because they made a TV version that was very popular. I'm sorry you don't like it. It took me a bit to get used to the fact that its not satire (it apporoaches the soceio-political issues very seriously) but it still had moments that made me laugh, esspecially with the culture clash.


Daniel Clark I'm "reading" the audiobook--the free one from librivox.org
It is also free as an ebook from Project Gutenberg
I appreciate having seen the screen version. I don't think I would have followed the story line as well without it. I also don't have to make up my own picture of the characters in my head :)


Shanea | 358 comments Daniel wrote: "I'm "reading" the audiobook--the free one from librivox.org
It is also free as an ebook from Project Gutenberg
I appreciate having seen the screen version. I don't think I would have followed the s..."

One of the best parts of us covering classics is at least one in three books is available for free. Although, I did not like all of the narrators for Librivox. Some were good, but one in particular was so droning I tuned out before she even finished a sentence.


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Tuyen I just finished the book and enjoyed it but did not like the abrupt ending.


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Nic (cinnabbomb) I just picked up a free copy from gutenberg.org (thanks! @Daniel). Off to a decent start, though still adapting to the style after just coming off a run of science fiction. I'm pretty excited to be reading a classic that's entirely new to me.


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Alex Willis (fightingokra) | 7 comments I jumped on this at the beginning of the month but my attention has wandered to other books in the past week. I am not sure this will be my thing but I am determined to finish by the end of the month.


Carolina Morales (carriemorales) | 32 comments I'm loving it, but it is kind of tiresome reading because the chapters are short but so full of details and you have to pay attention to evert thing in order to compose the mosaic of Margareth's dramas.


Valerie Brown Out of a year and a half's worth of classics I've read with this group, this is one of two that I really wonder why it is a classic. Perhaps as Ebster said above it's because it was a TV show?? I don't think this book measures up to being considered a classic.


RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 14 comments I'm having a hard time picking up the book. I'm avoiding it, big time. It just doesn't catch my interest but at the same time I would like to read it just because. Then again I feel like why force myself to read it when I don't want to? It's a struggler for sure.


Shanea | 358 comments RachelvlehcaR wrote: "I'm having a hard time picking up the book. I'm avoiding it, big time. It just doesn't catch my interest but at the same time I would like to read it just because. Then again I feel like why for..."
Lately I've not been sure if I'm bored with the book, or just easily distracted. Good luck keeping it up. A page at a time will still get you there.


Karen It has been very slow going for me too but I feel like I will be glad I have read it should I ever finish it. I find it interesting but repetitive - or maybe just too wordy. I am at about the mid-point where the strike is heating up so maybe the action will begin to move forward.


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Margaret | 2 comments Wives and Daughters is such a richer Gaskell , with plenty of wit and sparkle , and endearing as well as maddening characters . As full of comment on society and manners as any Dickens or Austen , without the caricature characters of the first. Read it instead of N and S , even if it DOESNT have Richard armitage in its filmed version!!


Lauri | 151 comments Margaret wrote: "Wives and Daughters is such a richer Gaskell , with plenty of wit and sparkle , and endearing as well as maddening characters . As full of comment on society and manners as any Dickens or Austen ,..."

Thank you Margaret, I am enjoying North and South, I am going to make sure Wives and Daughters is on my TBR list.


RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 14 comments I gave up on North and South. It's just not a book that is drawing me in and it's a chore for me to read. I'm going to re-shelf it. Perhaps in another time but I'm thinking this one will collect dust.


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Gail Ritter (gail0) RachelvlehcaR wrote: "I gave up on North and South. It's just not a book that is drawing me in and it's a chore for me to read. I'm going to re-shelf it. Perhaps in another time but I'm thinking this one will collect..."
I agree!! I seem to be reading anything else but this.
(very embarrassing that I left it for a zombie book...)


Karen I'm sticking with it but it is going frustratingly slow. Doesn't help that it is the book on my nightstand so I fall asleep two or three pages in every night! Looking forward to The Maltese Falcon.


message 22: by Pam (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pam Not the most interesting book I have read, but I will keep on reading, hoping it gets more interesting.


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Lisa (lisainnortheast) | 2 comments There were a lot of characters in the book so I had to look up who was who on the internet to keep things straight. Overall, this was a great read, albeit a bit sad with Margaret’s parents and Mr. Bell dying and with her brother being forced to live so far away. It was an undeniable page turner until the very end, because the romance between Margaret and Mr. Thornton was not acknowledged until the final words. However, I would like to have seen more of an open discussion or acknowledgement of their affection for each other rather than just hand holding. I would also like to have heard the reactions of Aunt Shaw and Mr. Thornton’s mother even though there was little doubt about how shocking they would have found it. I just would have liked to have seen how their shock was resolved. Also, the issue of Margaret’s brother seemed unresolved. Was she ever going to visit him and his wife?

Some of the discussions on class got a little monotonous for a romance novel, but I understand why that theme was central to the novel (hence the title). However, I liked the point that disdain for class went both ways. For example, Mr. Thornton’s mother hated Margaret for her status, just as the Shaw’s looked down upon those without rank and money. My last thought on the class issue is that at the time of the novel I think it was more palatable for the reader to accept Margaret as marring a “commoner” because she did not have the type of ‘exquisite’ beauty that would have rendered her less suitable for such a match. So even though this novel was progressive (for the time) on the issue of intermarriage between classes, it seemed to need to give an element of plainness to the main character to allow it to occur.


message 24: by Pam (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pam I kept on reading this book, thinking the whole time that there must be more interesting classics we could rea in the future. I was glad that Margaret and John finally got together.


Shanea | 358 comments Lisa wrote: "There were a lot of characters in the book so I had to look up who was who on the internet to keep things straight. Overall, this was a great read, albeit a bit sad with Margaret’s parents and Mr...."

Please put spoiler warnings on your post!!!


Karen Hallelujah! I am finally finished with this one - what a marathon this has been. I liked it; I'm glad I read it - stuck with it to the end. I think there were many better books written in the 19th century, but Mrs. Gaskell can certainly turn a phrase with the best of them. It was a very long way to go to get to a one page resolution which, though anticipated, still leaves you scratching your head. The North and South of the title pits the rural, agricultural south of England against the urban, industrialized north. The beginning of the book provides some edification on the politics and prejudices of both but that begins to fall away as the story progresses and focuses more on the characters and their personal relationships although, to be fair, the novel is also concerned with "the duties of man to his fellows" (dustjacket). I enjoyed the verse at the beginning of each chapter - that added an interesting touch. I am forced to wonder what Gaskell would have done without the word "languid." The book may have been quite a few pages shorter if everyone had not been so "languid" or been behaving so "languidly." It was definitely a favorite word of hers!

The ending was a train wreck. (Spoilers ahead although I am probably the last to finish this one!) She came into her fortune ridiculously conveniently - as do many orphaned and penniless female protagonists of 18th and 19th century literature - and I had to read the last page a few times trying to figure out what/where the turning point was. She offers him a business deal and after every other misunderstanding they have had he reads this as a confession of her true love for him and professes his own love for her? Wouldn't our proud John Thornton have told her to keep her money and walked out? I found it to be out of character at best and shady and suspect at worst.

In all it was good for what it was - a novel written for serialization with all of the time and space constraints that come with it. It sounds as if it was a ghastly experience for Gaskell and she herself says that, "at last the story is all huddled and hurried up." I would read other works by Gaskell, but not right away. On to The Maltese Falcon!


Shanea | 358 comments Karen wrote: "Hallelujah! I am finally finished with this one - what a marathon this has been. I liked it; I'm glad I read it - stuck with it to the end. I think there were many better books written in the 19th ..."
You're definitely not the last to finish, as I have read that a lot of people decided it was not worth it, so thanks for putting in a spoiler warning. The last chapter was a bit befuddling, combined with the rest of it.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments I just finished this one and I really liked it. Yes, it's Dickens meets Austen, but I thought it was the best of both of them. It's much better thought out and has more depth than an Austen story, but it has the lightheartedness that keeps many Dickens novels from being as enjoyable.

It's a great look at humanity and the differences between groups....or rather, their similarities, if you look deep enough. It's one I would read again.


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