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

by Elizabeth Gaskell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,841177956 (4.11)3 / 614
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)

  1. 211
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    Shuffy2: Mr. Darcy and Mr. Thornton are both of the same cloth, a love story you can really sink into!
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    Shuffy2: If you like 'sequels', I recommend this one!
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English (170)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  All (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All (177)
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
Such was the impression this book left on me that I completely forgot I'd read it. I made no note of it in the list of completed books I keep, ready for review, and only recalled it when someone mentioned it recently.

Gaskell is not one of my favourite authors although she does have the right to some credit. I'm glad to have closed my attempt at her output with this novel as I shall not be going back.

What does Gaskell contribute that future generations should be grateful for? Well, she does give us a good profile of the social issues facing her generation. The rise of industrialisation had created misery for millions. Gaskell portrays this honestly, if not skilfully. Although that's about it as far as I'm concerned, I'd say that's enough. Her work was as important for her own need to remain true to her beliefs as it was for her generation to hear. And the relentless tide of technology has not made her observations any less valid. Here though, I feel disappointed.

I'm disappointed because Gaskell quite obviously can't write tremendously well. Had she only produced "the trivial wittering rubbish of Cranford", she would have been forgotten long ago. Her saving grace was that she used her literature as a medium for the message of social justice. I just wish she'd done it better.

North and South suffers from the stain on subsequent literature left by Austen.

Quite why Gaskell felt fettered to Austen is a mystery to me. This distraction only serves as a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Distressed at the thought of the handsome mill owner being responsible for the murder of many through the conditions he imposes? Have no fear, the next chapter will cast him as a love-smitten sop and make you feel all warm and gooey.

Unfortunately, the cure for the complaint of social injustice lies in a full understanding of just how disgusting the medicine really is. While Margaret is able to exert some influence on Thornton, and he eventually comes round to the idea that his workers' lives actually matter, there's no desperate struggle with his conscience once he sees the light. His struggle with his feelings for Margaret gets far more air time.

Now, it's no secret that I feel Austen is vastly overrated and that her influence has not been entirely helpful. This is a good example of why. Had Gaskell stood on her own two feet and told it like it is based on her own experiences of injustice, North and South would have been far more important and had a far greater impact. It's a pity that she wasn't able to.

( )
  arukiyomi | Jun 28, 2017 |
I think this book could be significantly shorter. It started off interesting, but I'm 140 pages in and it's dragging. I think I may just watch the BBC version and call it good.
  Emma_Manolis | Jun 27, 2017 |
This is a classic, Austen-esque romance. The main protagonist is a proud young lady from the south of England who finds herself uprooted with her family to live in a manufacturing town in the north. She learns a lot about herself and teaches a lot to the inhabitants there, as well. Misfortune strikes, there is a miss-communication among lovers (as is wont to happen in such novels), and in the end, a happy ending.
I was a bit put off by the inelegance of the descriptions. There was much "tell" without "showing" in them. They were awkwardly put in and rather interrupted the story as a whole. It was all rather over-romanticized. The best relationship, and most character development that was not explicitly spelled out, but which actually developed, was between Higgins and Thornton. For this reason I give the writing as a whole 3 stars.
The written dialect made things more difficult to read than necessary. It didn't have to be so very obtrusive in order to get its point across.
There is absolutely nothing inappropriate about this - no foul language, adult content, or violence. Reading level required would be upper-level high school into adult. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
The recent mini-series is much-beloved in my family, prompting the reading of this book. Margaret Hale is a little bit perfect and any sense of "flaw" or trial is more from the circumstances surrounding her than character complexities, but I let it pass because everything else is so good. Far more interesting (and readable) treatment of mills and mill-workers than [b:Shirley|31168|Shirley|Charlotte Brontë|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1299948983s/31168.jpg|2685457] and a book I'll definitely return to after reading more Gaskell. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Warning: This review contains spoilers

****

This is an interesting book to read for those who like other classics by female authors. It discusses issues of trade and capitalism and portrays both sides of the workforce in a sympathetic manner. I preferred these parts to the romance between Margaret and Mr. Thornton; so much of the conflict between the two of them could have been avoided if they had just talked to clear up the misunderstanding. This was especially exasperating at the end, when Margaret wants Mr. Bell to pass along her message to Mr. Thornton, and then Mr. Bell dies before he has the chance to do so! I could see that coming. She had every right to accompany him on his visit and explain the circumstances herself.

Overall, this was a good book, and I especially liked reading it in Serial Reader format, which broke it up into manageable chunks. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 11, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Gaskellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collin, DorothyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dodsworth, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Easson, AngusEditorsecondary 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
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vonghizas, ConstantinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Edith!" said Margaret, gently, "Edith!"
North and South is one of the most intricately structured novels of the Victorian age. (Introduction)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434240, 0141028122, 0141198923

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