Teaser Tuesday: North and South

December 29, 2009

After a short holiday blog break, I’m now thoroughly looking forward to an exciting 2010 all over the book blogs. Seeing everyone’s end-of-year favorites has been interesting; I should be posting mine tomorrow. It’s also fun to see everyone’s lists of goals for next year, whether they be challenges, restrictions, or amorphous projects. I’ve been putting a few ideas out there already, such as my Austen project and my James brothers project. Another one of my goals is to continue to participate in the Classics Circuits, and I’m well on my way to that one–I’m hosting Edith Wharton in couple of weeks and I’ve signed up to read Their Eyes Were Watching God for February’s African American History Month tour. I haven’t signed up for any challenges, though, tempting as they are, mainly because I already have a full plate between the Classics Circuit and my real life book club, which I hope to continue attending every other month.

Truthfully, it’s been hard to stop and think about next year’s reading plans because I am entirely engulfed in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, given how much I enjoy a classic victorian novel. But after reading several reviews of this book, I was a little unsure of what to expect. Would I find it a simple retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Or would I find it preachy? Luckily, I haven’t found the book to be either of these things. Of course, a small part of the plot (the love story) does so far seem to be remarkably similar to the plot in Pride and Prejudice. But the entire rest of the novel, that is, the remaining eight-five percent, focuses on something new and exciting: the plight of mill town workers before, during, and after a strike. Here’s one of my favorite passages so far. We are hearing our hero, Margaret, thinking about Mr Thorton, one of the town mill-owners.

Of course, speaking so of the fate that, as a master, might be his own in the fluctuations of commerce, he was not likely to have more sympathy with that of the workmen, who were passed by in the swift merciless improvement or alteration; who would fain lie down and quietly die out of the world that needed them not, but felt as if they could never rest in their graves for the clinging cries of the beloved and helpless they would leave behind; who envied the power of the wild bird, who can feed her young with her very heart’s blood. Margaret’s whole soul rose up against him while he reasoned in this way –as if commerce were everything and humanity nothing. She could hardly thank him for the individual kindness, which brought him that very evening to offer her — for the delicacy that made him understand that he must offer her privately — every convenience for illness that his own wealth or his mother’s foresight that had caused then to accumulate in their household…

From pages 151-152 of the Penguin Classics edition.



  1. North and South is definitely one of my best loved Victorian novels.If you haven’t done it yet, after finishing reading the book , watch the 2004 BBC adaptation of it. It’s one of the best period drama ever. Enjoy your reading, enjoy your holidays and have a very happy New Year!

    • Thanks for the recommendation and reminder about the movie! I just added the DVDs to the top of my netflix queue.

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