North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

4 stars

So this was a tough one to rate and review. First and foremost, this is a book to be read by anyone who loves this classics. The writing is comforting and smooth – like being hugged from 1854. And Margaret Hale is good stuff – strong and funny and sassy. I’m really surprised that it took me this long to read it.

That being said – there are a lot of comparisons btw this book and P&P. So i was expecting something a little lighter – a little sweeter. Having finished it i can only compare it to Charles Dickens – dark and sad and grimy-feeling.

Margaret is the daughter of a minister, but spent her teenage years with her aristocratic cousin. After her father leaves the ministry Margaret and her family move to a manufacturing town. There is a love story, but the main focus of the book feels like unions, and manufacturing and textile companies and the plight of the downtrodden. Lots of bad things happen – and i mean LOTS. I will remain forever frustrated by the dearth of Margaret/Mr Thornton time that we actually get.

The writing had a looseness that i wouldn’t expect from 1854. Also there was a strength to the characters that you don’t frequently see any more. The story-telling was the highlight of the book.

At times i felt it dragged. There was a lot of description. And there wasn’t a lot of romance (but when it was there, hot damn, it was swoony!).

A worthy read – just not exactly what i wanted.

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