Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book Review: North and South


I don't know how on earth I missed writing a review of North and South but I did. I read this two months ago people! Knowing how much you've been waiting for this exemplary review.... I'll try to make it exemplary. ;)
So here's the synopsis from Goodread to start us out: When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction. In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.
A few years ago I first watched the miniseries of North and South and enjoyed it quite a bit. In this review I will be having some comparison between the miniseries and the book. Later on my mother read it. She told me that the first scene where Margaret and Mr. Thornton meet in the movie doesn't exist in the book! I was mad! I hate that scene in the movie so I'm really glad it isn't in the book and mad they had to put it in the movie. I think it was to make you dislike Mr. Thornton more so you could relate with Margaret's dislike of him. In my opinion though that just was not necessary. As you read the book, you begin to realize that Margaret is really very rude and prejudiced against Mr. Thornton. You still like her though, despite her faults, as you like Mr. Thornton despite his faults. In my opinion, in the movie Margaret's faults aren't as clear shown as his in the miniseries, which I think is unfair as Margaret works through a lot and matures a lot through the story.

North and South has strong characters that drive the story. While the main cast is great, it is the side characters that make the story in some ways so interesting. Nicholas Higgins is one of the most interesting characters in the novel and he gives a lot of perspective as to the mill workers situation. Dixon is another great secondary character. Margaret's parents leave me conflicted. Often I am frustrated with her mother and I feel sympathetic to her father but sometimes it's the other way around. They are both good people though and Margaret cares for them, you care for them.

I think North and South is a really great story much in the same vein as Jane Austen's novels. In fact, it has many similarities to Pride and Prejudice though I read that it also has likenesses to Charlotte Bronte's novel Shirley but I have not read that novel yet so I personally couldn't speak to that.

Besides my above complaint with the miniseries, I do like it. There only a few other minor differences from the book otherwise. The ending is slightly different but I've learned to get over that. The casting is well done and the scenery is magnificent as well. :) I think Richard Armitage was perfect for the role... especially now having read the book.

All in all I recommend you read the book and then enjoy the miniseries. :)

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4 comments:

  1. I remember watching this series in school and it was always something we complained about. I didn't know until relatively recently that it was a book. I'll have to add this my next classics list. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. :)

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  2. Her father is working through theological problems which I don't think are fully explained in the book. Of course the author herself disagrees with the Church of England and perhaps this is her way of dealing with it.

    I do like how she tells the story of the difficulties of factory work. The reader comes away with a better understanding of the plight of both the workers and employers.

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    1. I wish the theological problems her father was working through were more fully explained. I didn't realize Elizabeth Gaskell disagreed with the Church of England but that does explain a lot.

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