I really liked enjoyed this book until the very last two chapters which seemed so rushed! the whole entire book the author is describing what everyone is thinking/feeling, then in the last chapter it's just a he said this, she said this, the end. so so so so frustrating to go through the whole book and have it end like that!!! I loved the performance! accents and tone to help distinguish characters were amazing!
I had high hopes for this as an audio book but gave up on it after a couple of hours. The writing style is rather florid for 21st Century audiences (how many times can you stand hearing about the "soft curve of rich red lips, and the skin that was of an ivory smoothness and delicacy"?) Similarly, the story plots on at a pace that is not so much leisurely as dragging.
Juliet Stevenson's narration is outstanding, as always, but on the whole, this might have worked better for me in print where you can skip long, tedious passages and focus on the interesting parts ....
This novel was recommended to me as a withdrawal treatment for MIddlemarch. While it is not as great as that masterpiece (not much is), it brings alive several rich, real worlds -- London society, the southern village of Helston, and the northern industrial town of Milton. Margaret Hale, an intelligent, compassionate, and highly principled young woman, returns from the society world of London to live with her parents in the beautiful village of Helston . Almost immediately, her father, a minister who has lost his faith, is transferred to Milton, where he makes his living as a tutor . In Milton, Margaret meets the working-class HIggins family and the wealthy factory owner, John Thornton, who is one of her father's students. Thornton is in his own way as principled as Margaret. Through her acquaintance with the Higgins and with the Thornton families, Margaret learns that her compassion must be balanced with realism,
All of the characters in this novel are fully believable with understandable motivations and complex emotions. Margaret is particularly well-defined and one comes to admire her compassion, courage, and resourcefulness and to feel for her tragic losses. John Thornton grows as a human being. The plot takes a number of twists and turns which hold the reader's interest.
The one weakness is the end, which comes abruptly and which I see as a little inconsistent with Thornton's character.
Juliet Stevenson's reading is rich and resonant. Her characterization of John Thornton with his northern accent is particularly fine.
Oh I just adore this book. You know how it goes. Two people from different worlds meet and piss each other off but are secretly attracted to each other and the tension grows and ahhh it's amazing. But what's great about Gaskell is there's so much more to her stories than romance (although the romance is brilliant). North and South is about class divides and the struggles of life and faith and grief and love and friendship and learning and growing. It's truly wonderful. I don't love the religious parts myself but everything else I could connect with and relate to so much. Gaskell's characters are still as vibrant and three dimensional today as they were in their own time. Her third person narration allows insight into the minds of more than just the heroine, and this is particularly valuable for the perspective we get of the hero, John Thornton. The passion that simmers underneath his stiff exterior, which we actually get to READ about unlike in so many other classics, is extroadinary and oh-so-swoon worthy. I think I may even love him more than Mr Darcy. And THAT is saying something. As for the audio aspect, Juliet Stevenson is absolutely the best narrator I've experienced. She is SPOT ON with all the character's voices, absolutely perfect. I can't praise her highly enough. Outstanding.
Have only listened to a few audiobooks. This ranks second, after Middlemarch.
The setting of the story in an early industrial town. The friendships between different classes of people. The growth of the main characters. This novel seems a little more mannered than some of the others I've read dating to the period, but still soooo good.
Have also listened to MIddlemarch and Mansfield Park by Juliet Stevenson. I can't say enough good things about her narration. Her intelligence and understanding of the text shines through in her narration. Her phrasing actually helps me to understand any of the more challenging sections, things I might have missed if reading (I actually like to follow along in the book or on my ereader sometimes). Her voice is beautiful, her accents understandable (don't know how accurate they are), her pacing, character interpretations, etc., are just wonderful.
Margaret's return to Helstone mirrored feelings I had when returning during my twenties to the place where I grew up.
Great story, will "read" more Elizabeth Gaskell.
Humanitarian Aid Worker living in Central Asia.
I enjoy Gaskell's work and I have read most of her books. I enjoyed listening to this audio version of North and South. It was well read and listening to the book being read rather than reading it silently to myself added a new dimension to it and brought out passages I had otherwise overlooked.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
Juliet Stevenson's narration was perfect for this story of class differences, labor vs. the masters, etc.
Margaret Hale was a strong character who grows as the book evolves. She has almost every bad thing happen to her and she continues to do the right thing. She is a great heroine.
Any book she does is suberb.
The end when Mr. Thornley and Margaret meet for what could be the last time...It has it all, humor and pathos.
Wonderful story, but I did find Margaret's father as the weakest character in the novel. If he leaves the church because he believes more in the reformers than the regular church, why does the family no longer seem to attend church at all? For a former minister to become a tutor but not attend church seems false to me. My only complaint on the book though.
If you loved Pride and Predjudice ... then you will love this. Juliet Stevenson gives a master class in narrating, capturing voices and characters impeccably. The story has all the twists, turns and tragedies of any good early nineteenth century book. Loosely based on her own life experiences Gaskell paints a wonderful picture of a gentle woman's trials and tribulations. A good listen.
Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures...and, now that I've found audiobooks, I can read even while performing mundane tasks!
I saw a movie version of this novel years ago and loved it so I thought I'd give the book a try. So glad I did! Gaskell's social commentary (about industry and commerce) reminded me of Dickens, and her portrayal of two lovers frustratingly kept apart by misunderstanding and miscommunication reminded me of Austen. The way the characters grew to understand themselves better also reminded me of Austen. As for the narrator, I love everything that I've heard from Juliet Stevenson. She reads like she wrote these characters herself. I loved everything about this listen and highly recommend it.
I have listened to this book a few times now and enjoyed it every time. The narrator makes a huge difference and Juliet Stevenson did really well on all the different accents. I loved how she made the book come alive in audio form. The book is very well-written! The contrast the between the way of life in the industrial north of England and the wealthier south in intriguing and educational while lending substance to the text.