Published: 2008 by Vintage Classics
Originally published: 1854
Length: 547 pages
Source: Purchased from amazon.com
Personal Enjoyment Factor: 4/5
"He [Thornton] shook hands with Margaret. He knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact."
Sometimes reading does not follow any kind of predictable equation or outcome.
My expectation for North and South:
The wit and quirk of Cranford + the cinematic and hottie appeal of the miniseries + brand-new Vintage Classics edition = All that and a bag of Miss Vickie's Jalapeno Chips.
It just didn't quite add up that way, but I still enjoyed it. It was true comfort reading, which is valuable in and of itself.
For fans of the Hunger Games Trilogy, remember how frustrating it is to see Katniss' complete cluelessness when it comes to romantic love? Even when there's bread involved? Margaret Hale has the same problem. She receives two marriage proposals from men she has no idea are in love with her. And her responses are less than gracious. But like Katniss, Margaret focuses a lot of her attention on taking care of those who traditionally should be taking care of her, with love and marriage being the last thing on her mind. So I'll forgive both of them, and be entertained by the tension it creates.
North and South is more than a love story, giving it a satisfying amount of depth, which makes up for the lack of fireworks in the writing. Social issues are explored through the hardships of factory workers in an industrial town, but you also get to see things from the perspective of the factory owner. Religion is also touched upon, with the storyline of Margaret's father, who has a crisis of faith and leaves his post as a vicar, which precipitates their move from the south of England to the industrial north. One of my favorite quotes describes a group prayer, in which Higgins, a frustrated factory worker who has seen his fair share of adversity, reluctantly joins in on:
"Margaret the Churchwoman, her father the Dissenter, Higgins the Infidel, knelt down together. It did them no harm."
Now that's an equation that adds up just the way it should!