North and South captures the social divide and how the manufacturing and trading industries were revolutionizing in the 1850s. Margaret Hale, the daughter of a respectable clergyman, and her family move from the south of England to the industrialized northern town of Milton after her father leaves the church because of his conscience. Margaret is appalled with Milton and the vulgar, uncouth ways of tradesmen and merchants, whom she also sees as uncivilized and cruel. However, will she change her mind after she meets and gets to know the dashing Mr. John Thornton? There are many twists throughout the novel. Readers will appreciate the romance and building of tension between Margaret and Mr. Thornton, especially if they have watched the BBC miniseries with Richard Armitage playing Thornton. Mr. Thornton ranks right up there with other memorable classic literary heroes such as Mr. Darcy, Heathcliff, and Mr. Rochester. He is gentler and not as brooding here as he is portrayed in the miniseries, compelling nonetheless. Elizabeth Gaskell isn't quite as known or as celebrated as Dickens or the Brontes, people who had been big friends of hers, according to her biography, but she was a gifted writer in her own right and her talent shows in this wonderful gem which is worth reading, then reading again.
About the Author
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, (1810-1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Bronte. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature.