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Archive: Other Books > North and South - Gaskell - 4 stars

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message 1: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2942 comments North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South - Gaskell
Audio performance by Juliet Stevenson
4 stars

I enjoyed Cranford, the first book I read by this author. I’d been meaning to read more of her work ever since. I knew a bit about this book before I started, although I had not seen any of the small screen adaptations. North and South is a social novel and was originally published episodically in a literary magazine that was edited by Charles Dickens. This lead me to constantly compare this novel to Dickens’ work. Gaskell’s literary relationship to Charlotte Bronte had me contrasting Margaret Hale to Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

I should have been an English major.

I understand the 19th century importance of this novel. Gaskell is confronting the evils and benefits of growing industrialization. She’s attacking class prejudice and painting as least the possibility of a middle ground between industrialists and their workers. ( She seems to have written off the upper, aristocratic class as completely useless.)

I enjoyed the story and I like her characters. However…. Dickens did it better. Hard Times was published a year before North and South. The satire and humor of the Dickens’ book delivers a stronger social message while being more entertaining to read.

And then there’s the love story. Margaret Hale was such a shrinking violet! I tried to give her credit for turning down a man she did not love, but really she was just avoiding a situation that made her uncomfortable. I much prefer Jane Eyre’s “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” to Margaret’s “Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!' .


message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments I really enjoyed your review and literary comparisons.


message 3: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6194 comments Jgrace wrote: "North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South - Gaskell
Audio performance by Juliet Stevenson
4 stars

I enjoyed Cranford, the first book I read by this author. I’d been meaning to read more ..."


Nice review. I'm not sure if it inspires me to read it. Although I used to love Dickens.


message 4: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2942 comments Booknblues wrote: "Jgrace wrote: "North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South - Gaskell
Audio performance by Juliet Stevenson
4 stars

I enjoyed Cranford, the first book I read by this author. I’d been meanin..."


I enjoy Juliet Stevenson, and this one was a free overdrive download. I don't think I would have paid for it.


message 5: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6194 comments Jgrace wrote: "Booknblues wrote: "Jgrace wrote: "North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South - Gaskell
Audio performance by Juliet Stevenson
4 stars

I enjoyed Cranford, the first book I read by this auth..."


I've read raves about this book, but you didn't seem to think it was rave worthy and I trust your judgement.


message 6: by Jgrace (last edited Mar 30, 2018 09:07AM) (new)

Jgrace | 2942 comments Booknblues wrote: "Jgrace wrote: "Booknblues wrote: "Jgrace wrote: "North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South - Gaskell
Audio performance by Juliet Stevenson
4 stars

I enjoyed Cranford, the first book I re..."


I think it's an important book, given its place in time. It just doesn't compare to my first loves in 19th century fiction. I kept thinking of Margaret Hale in relation to Jane Eyre, and I'm definitely on team Jane. But I've read similar comparisons of the male protagonist; John Thornton compared to Mr. Rochester or worse, Heathcliff. I'd agree that Thornton is a more likable partner!

But for general readablility, I think the story was slow and too preachy for my taste.


message 7: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1365 comments I wish I had liked this one, but I didn't, especially the ending. The ending was so abrupt! Fortunately, the BBC miniseries makes up for it. :D


message 8: by Anna (new)

Anna Schoner I love this book and the BBC miniseries!


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