Awesome narration. Felt like there was a full cast of characters at the mike. Story is not incredibly exciting but interesting.
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.
I came to this book via the performer - who is simply one of the best I've ever heard. I did enjoy the story very much, but I will say the ending was a bit abrupt. Yet, well worth the time.
I've loved both versions.
Margaret Hale is the main character. She is a strong young woman, but is unsettled when her father moves the family to Northern England. Margaret sometimes offends her new acquaintances because she is behaving according to the code of proper behavior in Southern England, which is different than the code in Northern England. It is interesting to see her puzzle out the differences. The author nicely presents these differences as cultural variations without suggesting that one system is automatically better than the other.
When Mr. Thornton first confesses his love for Margaret. Gaskell nicely portrays the external actions and internal motivations, showing how two "nice" people can somehow be at odds.
The great poverty of the workers, and the even greater poverty of the Irish scabs. Desperate men fighting for fewer and fewer jobs.
Watch the miniseries. It varies at certain points (as all such portrayals will), and some of those are important points. Yet both the miniseries and the book are wonderful romances embedded in life's realities.
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.
Home is where my books are.
I just this moment finished this gorgeous book and find myself in a dreamy sort of haze. I miss Mr. Thornton (did we ever know his first name?) and Margaret so much, I wish it had never ended. If only Ms. Gaskell had been willing to grace us with a follow-up. I guess I'll have to be content with the story as is, though I think the characters will stay with me for a long time.
I particularly enjoyed the turn of phrase she provided for the character of Mr. Bell. I find myself thinking of the book as a Dickens, which of course it is not, but it is that wonderful, creative and indicative of it's time. If only Ms Gaskell had been as prolific.
Julet Stevenson was a revelation. Her pacing perfection, her accents so many and varied that I forgot I was listening to a single narrator. I was immersed. She has my undying devotion.
Similar to the language of Jane Austen but deeper and darker in its plot, themes, and character development (similar to the Brontes), with a completely admirable and sympathetic hero and heroine, this is my first Gaskell novel but definitely not my last. The writing is superb and the story is well developed with excellent characters and a unique and interesting setting (labor disputes in northern England during industrialization period). The narrator is outstanding, with excellent dialects and accents, distinctions between male and female voices, and moving emotional portrayals of important scenes and events.
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.