Saturday, September 1, 2012

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

*Beware of spoilers. There are many.

I had every intention of following along with the read-along posting schedule, but this month got away from me. I did finish the book and am finally linking up my thoughts (albeit a bit late). As an aside, I'm glad that I'm not the only person that thought this was a Civil War book. I didn't realize that it wasn't until this summer and I've had a copy of the book (purchased myself) on my shelf for a year and a half. I am officially a moron.

My enjoyment of this book was similar to an inverted bell curve. I really loved the beginning and ending, but the middle bits were draggy. I don't do well with dialect and the strike held little interest for me. I don't want to do a proper review as I'm not really thinking coherently enough (crappy head cold), but I'll just ramble until I'm tired.

Many mentioned this in their check-ins, but what was up with Margaret? I can't think of a more annoying protagonist (at the beginning at least). The proposals scenes were shocking. She seems so annoyed that they fell in love with her. Most girls would be flattered Margaret, not pissed. It's okay to say no, just don't be a total wench about it.

I hated Edith from the very beginning, but she was much worse at the end. I can't believe they were trying to keep her away from other suitors so they could try to force her into marrying Henry. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but that really sucks for her. Anytime Edith spoke to Margaret at the end, I wanted to slap her. She was so patronizing.

I loved Mr. Thornton. He reminded me a little of Mr. Darcy (personality-wise, obviously not of the same class). I'm so glad of how it worked out, but I kind of wish, like everyone else, that the ending wasn't so abrupt. I read some posts where it mentioned that they never saw Margaret fall in love with him and that it seemed sudden, but I thought it happened back at Milton after he helped Higgins. She started to fall in love with him after "the lie" and just felt like there was nothing she could do about it because she couldn't explain it to him to protect her brother. Did anyone else see it that way, or am I crazy?

Lastly, how can I not mention the cat incident? I would like to ask Ms. Gaskell where she came up with that because it was RANDOM. I was listening to the audio for that bit and had to do a little rewind and replay because I could not believe my ears. Seriously strange.

Overall, I was glad I read it. It doesn't fall into the favorite category, but I'll give Gaskell another go at some point. Maybe next year.

Thoughts on the Audiobook

This was my first. I'm now initiated (somewhat) into the ranks of the audiobook listener). I read the first three-quarters of the book and happened to find the audio CDs in my library. (Which is a crazy coincidence considering my library has a grand total of 20 audiobooks. Not a joke.) I brought it home happily so that I could try it out by listening to what I had left. But it didn't happen how I would have liked. I opened the case to see a note saying that discs 11-14 are missing. Uhh...what? Why are they still circulating these? Would you keep a book missing a quarter of the pages or even one page? So crazy, right? I'm the only person on the planet that it worked for, but I still had to read another 80 or so pages to get to the point where I could listen to disc 15.

I loved it. I don't have much experience with narrators, but I do know that I loved Juliet Stevenson. I was amazed at how well she did the different regional accents. It wasn't as difficult to listen to as I had imagined it would. Now I am all fired up to listen to more. Little Strangers is up next. I already have the discs on hold. I can't wait!


  1. Heh, the cat incident was random!

    I see Margaret falling in love with Thorton as you do - I definitely felt it was hinted at throughout the last half or so, definitely from the moment she had to lie, perhaps even when Thornton brought her mother fruit and other attentions even after her having rejected him.

    I think I agree with you that the book drags a little in the middle. It's unfortunate as I do really love it.

    1. Iris, I'm glad I'm not the only one that felt like Margaret fell in love with Thornton earlier. I think you're right--it was about the time that he sent the fruit even after she rejected him. I think it surprised her and really let her see his true character.

  2. I totally agree. The middle seemed endless at times, especially the parts about the strike. I was just starting to get into the book again when it ended. Mags and Thornton were getting all snarky...I wanted just a few pages more!

    1. Jill, yes it needed more pages. The ending was so strange. I did love the snarkiness--especially the dig on Momma Thornton.

  3. I'm so so so glad that the audio worked for you! I really enjoyed Stevenson's narration as well and am excited to see that she's done several other classics. I received an audio for A Room of One's Own by Woolf and was so excited to see that she narrates it.

    Ya, the cat. I admit I had kind of zoned out of the audio at that point and had to do some rewinding. So weird.