Wednesday, August 1, 2012

North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

'Edith!' said Margaret, gently, 'Edith!' But, as Margaret half suspected, Edith had fallen asleep.

I really enjoyed this book; I got on recommendation from Becky (you can read her review of it here), and while I didn't love it as much as she did, it was an interesting book. North and South is not only the story of an unlikely romance between two very different people, but also of the industrial revolution, which was rapidly changing England, and the middle class. Our main character is Margaret Hale, from the south of England, who moves to the northern industrial own of Milton. She deeply sympathizes with the millworkers, but she is also attracted to the mill owner John Thornton. Margaret grapples with her outlook on life, while also missing her old home in the south. She and John debate often about the relationship of the mill owner and the worker. A lot of ethics is discussed in North and South; you see, Frederick, Margaret's older brother, was involved in a mutiny and now cannot come back to England, on pain of death. And the industrial revolution, which is changing the world.

I really liked the two main characters of the novel, John and Margaret. They're both strong-minded, independent people. My favorite thing about the book was probably the descriptions of the beautiful southern country town in which Margaret lived, and also the descriptions of Milton. Though the book doesn't mention slavery, I was also reminded of the fact that the factories were getting all their cotton from the South of the U.S. (from slavery.) I kind of wished that Gaskell would talk about that a little, but it was probably too controversial. In any case, North and South is an entertaining classic. There is also a television adaption of it.

Read North and South:
  • if you like Elizabeth Gaskell
  • if you like Victorian literature
  • if you like classics with strong romance and a bit of tragedy (borrowing from Becky here)
  • if you like books with strong characters
436 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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