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Elizabeth Gaskell has a unique talent for writing characters that will pull at your heartstrings, and ‘North and South’ is no different. Though not as famous as authors like Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen, Gaskell’s writing skills are as good, if not better than, those traditionally studied in English literature classes. Her narratives challenge the norm in Victorian society, drawing readers into the drama.
North and South follows the story of Margaret Hale who returns to her rural home after spending time with her rich aunt to learn how to become a proper woman. However, shortly after she returns home, Margaret’s family is uprooted, and Margaret soon finds herself surrounded by a worker’s uprising. Through Margaret, Gaskell accurately portrays the workers’ conditions in Victorian England, painting a vivid picture in the listeners mind.
Many Victorian themes can be found in Gaskell’s work, but she is also known for the way she challenged traditions and societal expectations. Her portrayal of women and the poor during this time period go against general expectations, putting this in line with works like Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice. Gaskell’s smooth prose is definitely something that anyone studying Victorian or English literature should be exposed to.
The narrator for this particular version of North and South, Kate Petrie, adds to the overall nature of the novel. Her British accent accurately fits the speaker of the novel itself, giving the reader a full experience that is sure to engulf them in the narrative.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Excellent story, beautifully read. Portrays well the diffence in class in northern towns in the past.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about North and South?
It was very well written and gives the reader insights into deprivation in the 19th century England.
What other book might you compare North and South to, and why?
I would probably compare North and South to Jane Eyre. This is due to the individuality of the protagonists (Margaret in North and South and Jane in Jane Eyre). Both are individual characters that strive for their best interests.
What does Kate Petrie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Both the Northern accent for the Northerners (Milton) and the Southern accent of (Helstone) Hampshire - this creates a sense of realism for the reader.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I think this novel had emotions feelings associated with the events of Miss Hale's family, however I felt satisfied with the ending.