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North and South (Penguin English Library) by…
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North and South (Penguin English Library) (original 1855; edition 2012)

by Elizabeth Gaskell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3761331,126 (4.11)3 / 555
Member:esme-rose
Title:North and South (Penguin English Library)
Authors:Elizabeth Gaskell
Info:Penguin Classics (2012), Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:Read in 2012, Fiction, Eng-Lang/EV

Work details

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1855)

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When her father decides to leave the church over a matter of conscience, Margaret Hale is forced to move from her quiet, tranquil life in the south of England to the northern industrial town of Milton. Not only does Margaret have to adjust to new surroundings and reduced circumstances, she must also adjust to a new way of life, for the the ways of the North are vastly different from those she grew up with in the South. These differences are especially pronounced in her exchanges with John Thornton, the wealthy owner of one of Milton's cotton mills who Margaret seems determined not to like. It is not until circumstances dictate that Margaret return to the South to live that she realizes that perhaps it isn't everything she remembered it to be, and that maybe her heart really belongs in Milton after all.

North and South paints a vivid picture of life in an industrial town during the 1850s, as well as shows the differences between the bustling but grey North and the placid and pretty South. In Margaret Hale and John Thornton, Elizabeth Gaskell has created two truly remarkable characters. The secondary characters, especially Mrs. Thornton and Bessy and Nicholas Higgins, are equally strong and memorable. North and South is a great read. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
Margaret Hale is a pretty young woman growing up in her aunt's fashionable London household alongside her cousin, Edith. Due to the impending marriage of Edith to one Captain Lennox and subsequent move to Corfu, Margaret is to return to her father's vicarage in the English countryside. She arrives there just in time for her father to draw her into his confidence regarding his inability to continue in his position. He takes a job as a tutor in the northern manufacturing town of Milton during a time of industrial unrest between the mill-owners on the one hand and the mill-hands on the other. The Hales find themselves in a curious position, befriended both by the powerful manufacturer, Mr. Thornton, and Nicholas Higgins, a Union leader. Coming from the South, they are ignorant of the adversarial relationship between the hands and the masters and find themselves in an interesting position of trying to make each side understand the other.

This is my first novel by Elizabeth Gaskell and I was quite favorably intrigued by her treatment of the industrial revolution and how it played out. I found the best parts of the book to be those that depicted the antagonism of the masters and the hands to be of particular interest, most especially the riot in the midst of the strike. I also thoroughly enjoyed the numerous discussions between Mr. Thornton, Mr. Hale, Mr. Higgins, and Margaret regarding the merits of their positions regarding industry and economy.

On the other hand, the the romance aspect of the novel, felt thrown in, as if she felt she had to include it in an attempt to emulate other well-known women authors of her time and those that came before, particularly the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen. I don't feel that it really added much to the story and it seemed completely unnecessary.

Interestingly enough, it seems to me that Ms. Gaskell gave far better depth and personality to her male characters, particularly Mr. Thornton and Mr. Higgins than she was able to give to the women. The women read to me as cookie-cutter characters while the men seemed to fairly leap off the page.

I think her treatment of the Industrial Revolution and the interaction between the workers and the masters and it's treatment of social issues of the time is a unique one and what earned the book it's place on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. If it weren't for the romance and uninspired female characters I would certainly have rated this book higher. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
The story of Margaret Hale and her parents, how their move from the affluent south to the industrial north changes their perspective of life.

Set during the industrial strikes of the early 1800's Gaskell explores the ideals behind unions and the belief that sticking together can improve life for everyone.

A strong cast of characters draws you into the plot and it is hard to know at times who is most deserving of your sympathy. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Audio book performed by Clare Wille
3.5***

Richard Hale, a vicar at a country parish in southern England, has had a crisis of faith, and decides to leave the church to become a tutor in an industrial city in northern England. This might be fine, except that he is married and has waited until two weeks before they are to move to let his daughter and wife know that their lives are about to be turned upside down. His daughter, Margaret, has had a clearly defined role as the clergyman’s only daughter in the rural surroundings of Helstone, and now struggles to find a place in the very different society of Milton. Accompanying her father in the hunt for a suitable dwelling, she meets Mr John Thornton, the wealthy mill-owner who has engaged Mr Hale as a tutor in the classics. Thornton is immediately smitten with the lovely Margaret, though she does not return the feelings. Can opposites attract? Can the self-made Thornton woo and win the refined Margaret?

Gaskell’s book is more than just a romance. She spends considerable time exploring the changes wrought on England’s economy and her people by industrialization. We learn of the difficulties of the laborers vs the excesses of some owners. For a short time I thought Gaskell was going to completely discount Milton as a dirty, factory town, but she balances this with a warning Margaret gives about the harsh conditions of the agricultural workers in the South – toiling in all kinds of weather for low wages, and dependent on the squire for their living.

I loved how Gaskell gave us so much insight into the thoughts and feelings of Thornton, Mr Hale and Higgins (one of the labor leaders). We really come to learn about them and, therefore, care for them. I wish she had spent more time expounding on Margaret’s thoughts; to me, she was rather one-dimensional. Yes, she was kind and also spoke her mind when pushed too far by Mrs Thornton, but she was so passive! I realize that women in her situation at that time had few choices but to sit and wait for a suitable man to come along and propose marriage, but I think Margaret did too much “waiting.”

Still, right up to the ending I was ready to give it four stars. But that ending – abrupt hardly covers it. I actually exclaimed aloud, “Is that it!?”

Clare Wille does a superb job performing the audio book (produced by Naxos AudioBooks). Her facility with accents and skill as a voice-over actress breathed life into the work for me.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
I saw a list of Best Novels of the 19th Century and found I had read the first 31 listed and this was no. 32 so I decided to read it. I had read Cranford on 8 Apr 1956 and Mary Barton on 21 Aug 2002 and liked both. But North and South is very ploddingly written and all things proceed at a snail's pace as the 'heroine, Margaret Hale,' moves from a lovely southern rural community to a northern England manufacturing town, where she meets Mr. Thornton. For pages they interact adversely but finally there comes a time when there is some excitement and tenseness. But it quickly dies away and the story plods on and on and not till the very end do we learn that the expected conclusion indeed occurs. I found the book a failure and its insight into profound sociological facts is very limited. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jan 2, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Gaskellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collin, DorothyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dodsworth, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome 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
Shelston, AlanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shuttleworth, SallyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sorbier, Françoise DuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sorbier, Françoise DuIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vonghizas, ConstantinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:43 -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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» see all 12 descriptions

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3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434240, 0141028122, 0141198923

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