Tuesday, December 07, 2010

North and South

After watching the recent BBC version of North & South, I had to read Elizabeth Gaskell's original story. I have to admit I was lost for most of the beginning of the movie. Even after watching the whole movie, there was still some things I didn't understand. I didn't know if the screenwriters did a faithful adaptation or if it was just poorly directed. I'm glad I read the book and I can easily say that this book is among my top favorites of all time.

If you were to only watch the movie version, it would be easy to assume that the story is merely another historical drama romance for which the BBC is well known. The book is far deeper and skillfully crafted than you would expect. Elizabeth Gaskell is a master storyteller, crafting a story that is both a political statement as it is a romance. Gaskell manages to not pass judgment on which ever side her characters fall.

Margaret and her family move from southern England to the North when her father decides to leave the ministry. Margaret's father takes on the role of a teacher for the upper-middle class and working class in a factory town that process cotton into cloth. Margaret becomes stuck between social classes. She primarily associates with the upper class but has sympathies for the working class. She observes the struggle between the mill owners and the union, the educated and non-educated. It is through Margaret's eyes that we are able to be observers of both sides of the conflict.

I like that Gaskell allows the reader to explore both sides of the argument and allows the reader to decide who is right or wrong. And the distinction is not clear cut. Both sides have clearly justified positions. Admittedly the beginning of the book is slow but I'm glad I stuck with it.

Book rating: 5 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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