Home > Fiction, Fiction: Historical > North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Fiction: Classics. Paperback from Penguin Classics. Originally published beginning in 1854 in Dicken’s Household Words as a serial. This edition was published in 1995, edited by Patricia Ingham and is 425 pages. Purchased at Half Price Books.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had not heard of North and South. One of my daughter’s friends said that she “just had to” watch the recent BBC production, and so I thought I’d see what the fuss was about. I definitely enjoyed the DVD and thought it was very well done. So, as I am wont to do when I’ve enjoyed a movie that is adapted from a book, I started researching a bit on the author and began looking for a copy of the book when I was out at Half Price Books. (I did not realize that Gaskell was also the author of Wives and Daughters which is also a BBC production that I have on DVD.)

As with many books, the film adaption is different in many ways from the original North and South. Things are added, left out, rearranged, and so on to be able to fit the book into the four hour time slot of the BBC Mini-Series. In general I felt like the changes were true to the book, except for the way that the scene where the heroine sees the leading man for the first time was done. After reading the book I did not feel like that scene was true to his character. But, perhaps I missed something in the text that would have indicated that he would have acted in that way. Until I find it though I’ll have to stick with my objection to the adapted scene.

It’s amazing to me that I had missed this book for so long. I’m not a rabid reader of romance novels, but enjoy Jane Austen, and this book would certainly fit in the same category. (As a matter of fact, it bears a striking resemblance to Pride and Prejudice in many ways.)

Publisher’s Summary:
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 plights of workers with that of women and probing the myth and reality of the ‘north-south divide’.

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