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North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South (original 1855; edition 1970)

by Elizabeth Gaskell

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3,883None1,327 (4.14)3 / 477
Title:North and South
Authors:Elizabeth Gaskell
Info:Penguin Classics (1970), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, 19th century, Manchester

Work details

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1855)

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English (106)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
I've been having conversations with my sister over the various articles being written on McDonald's unethical procedures of late. It's not the first time the topic has come up, but it is the first time since she was hired at said company's behest to earn her pocket money. I'll talk about employees cleaning their uniforms off the clock, she'll point out the ease of our home bound washing machine, I'll comment on the level of her paycheck, she'll speak of the guarantee of college, I'll bring up nightmares of corporation instigated welfare, she'll counter with the fact that the staff is 'nice'. A few bouts of this narrows it down to some variation of the phrase of "Yeah, it's bad, but it's not affecting me." And such.

North and South touches upon this issue to a wonderful extent, workers and Unions and heads of manufacturing galore with a particular discussion between Margaret and Mr. Thornton, the former for social justice while the latter operated through an ableist paradigm, earning four stars right off the bat. If you were wondering about the tone of that previous sentence, yes, it means that I had issues that required a great deal of balancing before I settled on the stars. When Gaskell's good, she's very very good, but the fact that this work was originally a serial shows in the blocks of authorial insight that don't quite meld perfectly together. Also, N&S was published in 1850's Britain, and it shows to a disappointingly seedy extent.

What ties the aforementioned blocks together is main character Margaret Hale, and I am pleased to say that I was pleased with her. Barring all the enraptured talk about her eyes and hair and stoicism, this book is known as a romance, and when I read romances, what I'm interested in is the well-handled rejection scene that both displays the gal's brains and gives the guy his comeuppance if he's being a moaning twit about her lack of acceptance. Beyond that, her character was superbly crafted enough for me to forgive the cut-outish aspects of the others. I was particularly impressed with her after the death of her mother, when her father and brother were rendered utterly helpless, or "feminine", leaving her to handle all the practical necessities in the midst of her own far more subdued mourning. The gender stereotypes were switched, and none of the characters suffered any loss of inherent structure for it. I love things like that.

Now, the issues. The plot was going along well enough up until the worker's strike, but every subsequent dramatic event in the form of the death afterwards was a seeming blow to the solar plexus of cohesive drive. I understand that Margaret wasn't going to be as active or engaging due to concurrent stretches of mourning as in the beginning, but it got to the point that I have to wonder if Gaskell was conscientiously chopping off plot tendrils in the interest of time and lack of other reasonable conclusions. I'm not one for story, but when a particular device , aka death, is repeated four times and hastier in its wrapping every repetition and all in all has nothing remarkably memorable to show for it, it gets stale.

However. The plot I can forgive. The hate for the Irish I can't, what with the insinuations of "bloodline corruption" and weak-willed nonsense and lines such as"If the world stood still, it would retrograde and become corrupt, if that is not Irish.That's Margaret talking, and it's Margaret and her beloved father putting forth all of the previous without a hint of authorial condemnation that accompanies their servant's distrust of poor folk and other flavors of small character bigotry. Regarding the book, I truly "really liked it" as displayed in the hovering block, but lines such as the one above have ruined books for me, especially when so obviously of the author's own personal prejudice.

On the one hand, real women and workers combining efforts with the company owners and all that jazz. On the other, discombobulation and bigotry. I'll let you be the judge. ( )
1 vote Korrick | Mar 30, 2014 |
I adored this book. It felt like a grittier Jane Austen, or as Ilana put it: the romance of Jane Austen with the social commentary of Charles Dickens. Margaret Hale is the daughter of a country parson. She has lived in London society with her aunt and cousin, but at the opening of the book returns to Helstone, her beloved home. Her joy of simple country life ends soon, however, as her father suffers a crisis of conscience and leaves the church. They relocate to Milton in the industrial north so that he can work as a tutor. The removal to this very different place is jarring to Margaret, and she is not predisposed to like it or any of its inhabitants. She starts off on quite the wrong foot with her father's principal student Mr. Thornton, who is a wealthy, self-made mill owner. Her (and her mother's) ideas of ladylike propriety and decorum come off as haughty and disdaining to Mr. Thornton (and his mother), and their proud directness and passionate defense of the town and its industry is off-putting to the Hales. Margaret comes to appreciate Milton as she gets to know unlikely friends: Nicholas Higgins, a desperately poor mill-worker, and his consumptive daughter Bessy. When Higgins and other mill workers strike, Margaret's sympathies are with them, which strain her relationship with the Thorntons even more. Margaret gradually comes to recognize the basic goodness and decency in both Higgins and Thornton and contrives to help them understand each other better as Ms. Gaskell writes a poignant examination of the age-old conflict between labor (hands) and management (masters). The conflict of two disparate entities is a recurring theme in the book: masters and hands, girlhood innocence and serious adulthood, frivolous society pursuits and impoverished desperation, religious faith and suffering rejection of it, north and south. I was very sorry to finish this book.

This was my first Juliet Stevenson narration. Oh my -- all of the praise is well-deserved. She is incredible!
  AMQS | Feb 18, 2014 |
I was compelled to read this novel after seeing the excellent miniseries, and I loved the book even more. Pretty much every scene with John Thornton set my heart aflutter in some way or other--he is an irresistible character. The only thing I didn't like very much was the chapter epigraphs. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
In Gaskell’s novel, Margaret Hale is uprooted from the home she loves after her father leaves the Church following a crisis of conscience. Upon settling in Milton, she becomes acquainted with industry and poverty in a way she never anticipated. Self-made man, John Thornton is at the heart of Milton and as time goes on, Margaret and John develop tenuous relationship that masks an unexpected deeper attraction.

Elizabeth Gaskell has penned an amazing story with an original and heroic heroine in Margaret Hale. ( )
  debbieaheaton | Feb 2, 2014 |
I had relatively low expectations for this book, as I'd attempted to watch the BBC special before and found it pretty dull. But the the book itself (actually the audiobook) was a very different experience. While I found myself feeling a bit impatient with the heroine and perhaps sympathising a bit more with Mrs. Thornton than the author probably intended, the characters and their stories were so finely drawn that I fell right into this book. I was continuously impatient to know what would happen next, even though the outcome of the story (typical romance in its plot) was a given. Juliet Stevenson gives an excellent performance in reading the story. Highly recommend. ( )
  PortM | Nov 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Gaskellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Easson, AngusEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingham, PatriciaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingham, PatriciaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jong, Akkie deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kwiatkowska, KatarzynaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leyrer, GindaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pérez, ÁngelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shuttleworth, SallyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sorbier, Françoise DuIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sorbier, Françoise DuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vonghizas, ConstantinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Edith!" said Margaret, gently, "Edith!"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140434240, Paperback)

"How am I to dress up in my finery, and go off and away to smart parties, after the sorrow I have seen today?"

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 fused individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale created one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

In her introduction Patricia Ingham examines geographical, economic and class differences, and male and female roles in North and South. This edition also includes a list for further reading, notes and a glossary.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:39 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

From her home ground, her father's comfortably middle-class living in Hampshire and her aunt's establishment in Harley Street, Margaret is exiled to the ugly northern industrial town of Milton. Surprisingly, her social consciousness awakens. It is intensified by a relationship with the local mill-owner, Thornton, that combines passionate attraction with fierce opposition. The novel explores the exploitation of the working class, linking the plight of workers with that of women and probing the myth and reality of the 'north-south divide'.… (more)

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Fourteen editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434240, 0141028122, 0141198923

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