North and South, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (6 ratings)


'she tried to settle that most difficult problem for women, how much was to be utterly merged in obedience to authority, and how much might be set apart for freedom in working.' North and South is a novel about rebellion. Moving from the industrial riots of discontented millworkers through to the unsought passions of a middle-class woman, and from religious crises of conscience to the ethics of naval mutiny, it poses fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience.

Through the story of Margaret Hale, the middle-class southerner who moves to the northern industrial town of Milton, Gaskell skilfully explores issues of class and gender in the conflict between Margaret's ready sympathy with the workers and her growing attraction to the charismatic mill ownder, John Thornton. This new revised and expanded edition sets the novel in the context of Victorian social and medical debate.

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Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

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Review by

I waited sometime after reading this book to figure out what I thought of it, but I'm still not sure. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. I think I was subconsciously comparing it to Wives and Daughters, which was my first Gaskell read - and so far, my favorite.North and South started out good enough. With the moving to Milton, the early interaction with Thornton. The subtle arguments between Margaret and Thornton were thoroughly entertaining.I found that I was comparing Margaret and Thornton to Elizabeth and Darcy, but minus the witty dialogue.I remember thinking when the riot hit, "Oh! This is getting good!" However, I felt myself getting bored soon after, only picking up when Frederick came home and then dying again soon after.The dialogue by certain characters made me want to bash my head against the desk. It was excruciating to try to read. I get that they have a thick accent, but egads! And in the second half of the book I felt Margaret became thoroughly irritating, and I can't fathom why.I'm sad that I didn't love this book, after all the positive, glowing reviews I've heard. Perhaps that's what did me in? I did like it, but it's by far not Gaskell's best work.I look forward to watching the mini-series, which I feel will be more enjoyable.

Review by

Do you ever read the Introduction to a book and then wish you hadn't? Or not, at least, until you had read the book? The intro in my edition was no less than 26 pages long. It discussed, among other things, the "question of rebellion: how far is the individual justified in pursuing individual freedom of thought or action in defiance of social authority?" This question clearly colored my reading of the story itself.I was surprised really at how many of the characters of the story were essentially very weak. The strong characters of the book were people we met in Milton - the Thorntons and Higgins. Margaret goes through great trial and struggle, and ultimately does become stronger. She is also supported along the way by many people, though she often seems alone. The great question of the story regarding defiance of social authority is one we still struggle with today, and probably will forever. The public opinion pendulum swings back and forth between the "workers" and the "masters". I appreciated the way Gaskell answered the question in her story. She pointed out that there are gaps in understanding between the two groups, and that if the masters and the workers could learn to know each other and to work together toward a common goal, it would be better for everyone. Thornton attempts these changes in the end, and when asked whether he thinks his reforms will end the strikes, he says "Not at all. My utmost expectation only goes so far as this - that they may render strikes not the bitter, venomous sources of hatred they have hitherto been." An interesting idea, clearly still in reality, a work in progress.

Review by

This is an excellent novel. I try not to read too much about a book before I read it because I want to be surprised by everything. So, if you're like me and reading this I'll tell you this: Just read it. Don't expect action packed and mysterious. If you enjoy a nice leisurely stroll through a story of love developing out of nowhere, a girl growing up and changing, then you'll enjoy this.

Review by

Liked it--didn't love itThe only things I knew about Elizabeth Gaskell was that she was Charlotte Bronte's close friend (she even laid Charlotte out to be buried) and that she was one of the few women Victorian novelist who had what might be called a "normal" life. It ws a refreshing change to get away from Home Counties drama , but I can't help comparing Gaskell to George Eliot--which is unfair of me, I know. Nobody else is George Eliot, either. Margaret was a great snotty heroine, and I loved John Thorton's mother. (No spoiler here--wow--is Margaret going to have problems later!) but John himself wasn't that interesting. The details about life in the mills were more fascinating than the hero. This is a problem, no? My biggest complaints--way too many deaths even for a novel of this era and the minor characters had an irritating habit of ruminating about Margaret. I can't stand it when an author is so heavy handed in telling the reader what to think. Still a worthy read. I look forward to the mini-series.This was the first book I read on an e-reader--courtesy of "Beam it Down" and my iouch--it did take a while to adjust to the automatic scroll but then I enjoyed reading one-handed.

Review by

Margaret Hale has been educated in London but when her cousin Edith marries, she moves back to Helstone in Southern England, where her father is a vicar. When Mr Hale becomes a Dissenter of Church of England, he gives up his parsonage and moves his family north to the industrial town of Milton where he is to work as a tutor.John Thornton is the owner of one of the local cotton mills and is proud of Milton and its reputation for fine manufacturing and increased industrialization.Thornton and Margaret clash over their opposing views on the way of life in the slower, wealthier south and the faster, industrialized north. Margaret finds herself sympathetic to the plight of the workers and the poor in Milton. She befriends Bessy Higgins and her father Nicholas, who is a factory worker and union leader. Margaret is frequently in Thornton's company as he and her father become good friends. Thornton falls in love with Margaret but she rejects him as she does not think him a gentleman and that he is only interested in making money at his worker's expense. But Margaret gets an education in Northern ways and starts to appreciate Thornton for the man that he review: I read North and South after watching the BBC production, after reading about it on Tasha's blog: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books. Richard Armitage plays John Thornton and he is so sexxxyy!So I read the book.There has been some comparison to Pride and Prejudice but other than the relationship, it is not so similar. Gaskell focuses on more of the social aspects with the increased industrialization of Northern England. Margaret is the outsider and Thornton is the insider. Margaret is smart, strong, and independent. She is the one that has to break the news to her invalid mother that Mr. Hale has broken with the church and is moving them up North. She helps her father and many of the poor in Milton. In this way she does remind me of Elizabeth Bennett. Thornton is somewhat like Darcy in that he is headstrong and devoted to his family, but Thornton is not sulky and quiet. He is opinionated but fair.Gaskell also writes from Thornton's perspective as well as Margaret's. So we know what he is thinking and therefore THERE IS NO NEED FOR SOMEONE TO WRITE A BOOK CALLED THORNTON'S DIARY. Just saying.A blogger compared this book as a mix of Austen and Dickens and I agree with that. It really is an excellent novel that is much more than a love story and really delves into the social aspects of workers versus masters and unions and strikes. Watching the BBC production did not ruin the book for me and it helped to imagine Richard Armitage as Thornton. Yummy! This book is much better than my review and I highly recommend it. I also recommend watching the movie!my rating 5/5

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