Sunday, May 5, 2013

North and South

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I downloaded a free ebook copy from Project Gutenberg.

My review:

A rather privileged young lady from the agrarian, rural southern England suddenly finds herself considerably less privileged and forced to move with her parents to a textiles manufacturing town in the north. Cultures, priorities, and personalities clash, illnesses and financial problems strike, and Margaret's mettle is tested... and sometimes found wanting.

This is a Victorian "issues" book. The story line and plot were unoriginal but engaging and grew more compelling as the story unfolded. The long discussions of societal theory were longer than necessary, however. The discussions and perspectives had to be included and debated in order to develop the plot and characterizations, but tangents were often over-long. Characters grew and learned throughout the book, but the ending felt hasty in a manner reminiscent of Louisa May Alcott's "romance" books.

Fans of Victorian novels will enjoy this portrayal of two English cultures of the day, but there is a reason that it is a B-list classic instead of one of the big titles that everyone recognizes. It will not have the broad, era-transcending appeal of Anne of Green Gables or Frankenstein.

Stars: 3


As a modern American from a region with a manufacturing heritage, I found myself frustrated with the impractical and elitist attitudes of some of the characters, even though I know that it was an accurate representation of many good people's views in that time and place.

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