Sunday, October 21
Book Review: North and South
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Summary: As the title suggests, it is primarily a study of the contrast between the values of rural southern England and the industrialized north; but through the medium of its central characters, John Thornton and Margaret Hale, it also becomes a profound comment on the need for reconciliation among the English classes, on the importance of suffering, and above all on the value of placing the dictates of personal conscience above social respectability. And in Margaret Hale, whose intensity, spiritual isolation and passion electrify the book, Mrs Gakell created one of the finest heroines of Victorian literature.
My Rating: 6/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed the Victorian era writing style, I found the book to be bland, stretched out and didn't care for the heroine of the book, as I found her to be just another character who passed by in the book.
The issues and differences between the North and South during the time period were interesting. Gaskell did do a good showing the differences in life, language and general personality of those who live in the North versus those who live in the South. But I found the story dragged on there was a lot of fluff and repetitiveness between character interactions and how the story progressed. For example the amount of time she spent worry about her brother and how he could be arrested kept re-emerging throughout the book. The first time explains his character, afterwards it became boring and I began to lose interest.
I also wasn't impressed with the general characterization, which made the women appear silly, pathetic creatures. I realize this was a time when women were treated very differently and thought of as delicate, but the author went a little over the top. There development was not existent, Margaret was pretty much the same at the beginning as she was at the end of the book, and I don't see her as a heroine. She didn't do anything to deserve being labeled as one. The relationship between Margaret and Thornton seemed to try and touch on themes from Pride and Prejudice, but I felt the author failed at doing this. Their friendship and interactions seemed forced, and it didn't fit well with the story as a whole.
Overall, not my favourite of the classic, Victorian era books.
Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure. I always love the style and narrative of Victorian era novel, but this one sort of fell flat of my expectations. Out of all the novels that are similar to this, it wouldn't be at the top of my list to recommend.
What to read next: Pride and Prejudice
Challenges: 12 in 12 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 1001 Books Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge