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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 hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Let's just say off the top that the narration of this book is 5-star worthy. It's perfect. As to the book itself ... not so much.
Since women aren't allowed to participate fully in life, you don't ever get a real view of life's events except the selection of flowers to go with a dress. I kept waiting for something big and it just never happens. It either occurs behind closed doors or in another location while the main character frets and pines.
I'm not necessarily drawn to books with lots of violence and death and gore, but I do like books with meat and depth. This just wasn't it for me. I wanted to love it and it's just WAY too sweet for my taste. Back to listening to books with some grit...
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.
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.
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.
"Romance and Finance"
In many ways this story of boom and bust is relevant now as it was when written.I loved the story of how a girl brought up in the country adapted to the life in the Northern town. She is a strong comple heroine and I found this book really got me thinking about what is fair and not fair in daily working life. If this sounds dreary it's not at all, the love story and the family dramas are compelling and it is an uplifting book well read with a great story.
"A definite winner!"
Dont' be put off by Audible's somewhat dry academic description of this book. Yes, it is "set in the context of Victorian social debate" but it is primarily a wonderful and powerful story, superbly written by Elizabeth Gaskell and excellently read by Juliet Stevenson.
It contrasts southern city life and southern and rural life with the hardship and grime of life in a northern mill town. It paints a vivid picture of the struggle between poverty-striken mill workers and prosperous mill owners. It includes action, tragedy and passion as well as romance and gentleness. Who can forget the many memorable and believable characters who demand your sympathy. A powerful book I could not put down. I highly recommend it to you.
"an interesting novel made special by the reading"
North and South must be on many people's list of 'books I ought to read but never have' - in book form, its length is rather daunting! Juliet Stevenson's reading, which truly deserves to be described as beautiful, made listening to it a matter of complete enjoyment. There are so many characters to enjoy, scenes to remember, and the well-known depiction of various social classes and contrasts in Victorian Britain, and Juliet Stevenson brings them all out to the full, never missing a single element in her faultless performance. Perhaps credible plot is not Mrs Gaskell's strongest point, but I was surprised at how exciting the story often is. Altogether I have spent several days hooked up to my iPod at every available minute, and this is one of the best audiobooks I have had so far. Strongly recommended.
"North and South (Unabridged)"
Never having been top at the class at english lit., I often find that the pleasant but flowery language of many classics distracts me from the plot. More often than not I feel that I 'should' read or listen to a classic but cannot honestly say I really enjoyed it. North and South however is now in my top five books I love. I got a real sense of the time and place, the characters were vivid and interesting but most of all it was a lovely romance. The sex and violence of modern novels replaced with gentle sensuality against a sometimes brutal backdrop of poverty and untimely death. The narrator was perfect and added to the experience and now I'm off to buy the book to read it myself.
"An epic love adventure"
This story has a lovely atmosphere. It's about the contrasts of the landscapes and the contrasts in the people who live, in the North and in the South of England. In Margaret Hale's journey from one end of the country to the other she sees these differences. Then she meets Mr Thornton, a mill owner, and an epic love adventure begins.
I wasn't sure I would enjoy this at first but I absolutely did. The portrayal of life, social culture, relationships, the breaking down of the stereotypes of north and south, are absolutely fascinating. A must read.
This is one of my favourite books, and like all the other audio books that Julliet Stevenson has recorded she has done both the book and characters proud.
Wonderfully narrated. The interesting prose about life during this age intermingled with the personal lives of the characters kept me coming back to this audio book whenever I could.
"I love this story even more now"
I already liked North and South from a previous reading and the BBC TV adaptation. Now I love it even more, largely due to Juliet Stevenson's fantastically evocative reading. She brings all of the characters alive and gives them their own voices. I have already listened to it three times and I sense it will be pulled out again and again... I have now bought another classic read by Juliet Stevenson as I enjoyed this one so much!
Loved the story and Juliet Stevenson did a great job in bringing the characters to life.
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