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North and South Audiobook

North and South

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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Written at the request of Charles Dickens, North and South is a book about rebellion; it poses fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. Gaskell expertly blends individual feeling with social concern, and her heroine, Margaret Hale, is one of the most original creations of Victorian literature.

When Margaret Hale's father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience she is forced to leave her comfortable home in the tranquil countryside of Hampshire and move with her family to the fictional industrial town of Milton in the north of England. Though at first disgusted by her new surroundings, she witnesses the brutality wrought by the Industrial Revolution and becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers. Sympathetic to the poor she makes friends among them and develops a fervent sense of social justice. She clashes with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, who is contemptuous of his workers. However, their fierce opposition masks a deeper attraction.

Gaskell based her depiction of Milton on Manchester, where she lived as the wife of a Unitarian minister. She was an accomplished writer, much of her work published in Charles Dickens' magazine Household Words including North and South which was originally published as a serial. She was also friends with Charlotte Brontë and after her death, her father, Patrick Brontë, chose Gaskell to write The Life of Charlotte Brontë.

Narrator Biography

Whether she's up on stage, behind the microphone or in front of the camera, Juliet Stevenson never fails to charm her audience...whoever they may be. Acting roles in Truly, Madly Deeply, Emma, Bend It like Beckham and Mona Lisa Smile have cemented her status as one of the great British actresses of our time. Meanwhile, her popular performances of hits such as Apple Tree Yard, the book that was turned into a TV series that people just couldn't stop talking about, have earned her an overwhelming amount of well-deserved praise for her spoken word talents.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[An] admirable story...full of character and power." (Charles Dickens)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (2164 )
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4.7 (1823 )
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Performance
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  •  
    gran 80 09-30-16
    gran 80 09-30-16 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "A wonderful read"

    What a great romantic story. A perfect book with which to relax. It was hard to put it down. Juliet Stevenson gives the characters a perfect tone. Her interpretation of the many voices and accents in various parts of England was very pleasant. I had first watched the dvd so I had the advantage to picture the characters in my mind as I was listening. Now I'm getting the paperback. I'm sure I'll want to hear this again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-24-16 Member Since 2016
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    7
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    "incredible narration"

    Ms. Stevenson does the story worthy justice. And such a story! Elizabeth Gaskell at her finest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Mollinet Layton, Utah USA 09-08-16
    S. Mollinet Layton, Utah USA 09-08-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Slow start but eventually liked it"

    Set in England during the Industrial Revolution, this book highlighted the struggles of living in an industrial town. It reminded me of many other English books I have read. It had the same formula of love refused and finally gained like many books of its kind. I liked Margaret's strong female character and the chivalry shown by the men in the book. Nothing improper ever happens (no sex, language or violence). Eventually, I kept reading and reading to find out what happened.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. E. Rust 09-05-16
    L. E. Rust 09-05-16
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    "We could all learn from the classics"

    We all can learn more about human nature by paying attention to the past. We can improve ourselves by looking at what benefits others and forget what's in it for me mentally.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-05-16 Member Since 2014
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    "lovely story"

    Wonderfully descriptive writing and the narration was excellent! I don't know why I didn't know about this author before before. I was sorry when the book ended. I will definitely read other books by her and I will find other books read by this narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    phumigator 09-05-16
    phumigator 09-05-16
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    "Movie prompted me to get the book"

    If you like Pride and Prejudice, this story is very similar.

    Not sure if I would have enjoyed the book if it were not for the wonderful movie starring Richard Armitage and my envisioning the story with the movie actors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren J. Kotloff 09-04-16
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    "Wonderful performance of an only fair book"
    What made the experience of listening to North and South the most enjoyable?

    Gaskell's prose is beautiful and the performance by Juliet Stevenson is incredible.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I anticipated the ending from the very first time the two characters met. However, when it finally came, it was abrupt and contrived


    Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favorite?

    Margaret


    Any additional comments?

    I like the writing of this period and am willing to swallow a lot of the melodrama for the beautiful prose. However, Gaskell is humorless. I wished for more wit and humor (ala Jane Austin). Also, while the commentaries on the book say that she writes about social issues, there was too little of this and too much melodrama. However, and probably due to Juliet Stevenson's stellar performance, I found it enjoyable to listen to on my commute.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette 09-02-16
    Jeanette 09-02-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Pride & Predjudice look a like"

    I thought this book was well written and excellently narrated but I found it to be clichéd and predictable which dampened my enjoyment of it. The main characters were a little too perfect to ring true and it was quite religious. If you like your characters to be sweet, faultless and pious then this book is for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Hunters Hill, Australia 08-29-16
    Linda Hunters Hill, Australia 08-29-16 Member Since 2010
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    "Brilliant!"

    Lovely story, beautifully written. Cements my opinion of Juliet Stevenson as the world's best narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kat 08-23-16
    Kat 08-23-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Classic"

    If you love victorian era novels this is a classic!!! I enjoyed listening to it twice. I listened before and after seeing the BBC version with Richard Armitage. ENJOY!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Mrs. K. I. Richards
    12/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "the great divide."
    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I love books which are set in the period the author lived in. the language, attitudes and writing style add so much to the book compared with books written now about that period.<br/> <br/>Margaret is so strongly portrayed that you feel for her as she comes to terms with living in the luxury of her aunt's home back to village life where she was born, then on to the life in the industrial north where work is hard, soul destroying for the workers<br/><br/>.john thornton is the mill owner who has come from lowly beginnings, has worked hard to get where he is as a mill owner and employer, struggling to fit in with his contemporaries feeling a lack in his education.<br/><br/>I felt small echoes in this of jane autsten pride and prejudice<br/><br/>.Juliet stevenso's performance was first class .


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderic
    Victoria Park, Australia
    10/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Scintillating prose and narration"
    What made the experience of listening to North and South the most enjoyable?

    The beautiful and resonant voice of Juliet Stevenson.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All the characters were drawn quite well, but I particularly enjoyed the bluff Mr Bell (the Oxford Don) because he cut through so much of the façade with his mischievous utterances.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were many moving scenes in the book, especially the death scenes, but the image of a young Margaret Hale - at the point of adulthood - vowing to herself to live a life without fear, was a poignant moment.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Suzy
    10/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow start but gets better"
    What made the experience of listening to North and South the most enjoyable?

    It was free, I enjoyed the tone of the narrator for the most part - just a couple of dodgy accents and it surprised me how a classic I would never have read as a book could draw me into the story.


    What other book might you compare North and South to, and why?

    I would compare it to Downton Abbey - not a book I realise but I don't read classics so find it hard to draw a comparison


    What does Juliet Stevenson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    I would never have made it through the book. She makes the pace tick along albeit slowly but you don't get hung up on the old fashioned language.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was really keen to know the ending which surprised me. I didn't realise I cared that much. I ended up searching for the ending online before I listened to it because I was so impatient.


    Any additional comments?

    A great free listen and broadened my approach to classics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hazel
    8/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A classic revived"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It is interesting both for entertainment and as a snapshot of life in newly industrialised Britain.


    What other book might you compare North and South to, and why?

    Mrs Gaskell is an author who compares favourably with Dickens. Her characters are if anything more rounded, and the story line is as engaging.


    Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favourite?

    Margaret is a character with whom I must sympathise and it is fascinating to see how she changes and matures as the novel proceeds.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The moral dilemma in which Margaret has to decide whether to protect her brother or to tell an untruth.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a very moral tale, but not at all a dull one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L
    Cirencester, United Kingdom
    8/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent !"

    Couldn't stop listening. Good story and Juliet Stevenson's narration was superb. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Isolde
    12/22/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A true classic"

    Gaskell should be as well-known and loved as Austen, Elliott and Dickens, and our understanding of 19th century literature and its relationship to society is incomplete without her. Her observation, subtlety, craft and humour make all her works thoroughly engaging and enjoyable, and North and South is perhaps her masterpiece.
    While the novel is often viewed as a picture of class struggle and the tension between tradition and progress in Victorian England, I believe both of these approaches to be simplistic. Throughout this expansive work, she asks the question, "When is it right to resist authority?" Those authorities which she challenges include the Church, the government, the army, class expectations, trades union and gender roles. Her answers are never simplistic, and the consequences of resistance are never easy.
    The novel has also been criticised for its seemingly abrupt ending, where it has been said that it is all "resolved over tea". Understanding that the novel was written in serial form for Dickens' "Household Words" journal, and that he sprang the need for a conclusion on her at short notice goes some way to answering this criticism. But I think she brilliantly encapsulates the themes of business, economic life and the balance of power between men and women. Decide for yourself!
    Juliet Stevenson seems to be the ideal narrator for 19th century novels, and this performance demonstrates why. She is animated without resorting to caricature, and her accents never seem forced or out of place.
    One final health warning: this novel contains unreflective anti-Irish racism! It mirrors an attitude I have heard creditted to Engels before: an anger at the Irish workers brought over to break strikes in the mid-19th century. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that these Irish workers were fleeing a devastating famine brought about by English Imperialism. So be warned, and try not to let this deeply ingrained attitude spoil an otherwise brilliant novel!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Irene
    London, United Kingdom
    5/5/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic"

    I have seen several TV series based on Elizabeth Gaskell novels but this is the first time I dealt with one of her books. I loved it. Juliet Stevenson is a magnificent reader and I really enjoyed the voices and accents

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • sjtroddy
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Gentle, pleasant listen"

    North & South meanders at a gentle pace and is soothingly read by Juliet Stevenson. The tale doesn't seem terribly believable as whole life story but the events, situations and places are believably portrayed and described. This audio book choice for me suited in length, language and subject - a long, "nicely written" historical fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
    4/6/13
    Overall
    "Highly enjoyable"

    I enjoyed this book from the very first pages, I think Elizabeth Gaskell writes in a very lush descriptive style. The story of this book almost echoes Pride and Prejudice, but I like how roles are reversed and Margaret has to save Mr Thornton in the end. There is more death than I would have expected, but I suppose as a result, more realistic of the time, life expectancy lower, people still contracting TB etc. To me the end was slightly unfulfilling, seemed a bit mashed into the last half hour, where the rest of the book had been so deep. Juliet Stevenson as always a fantastic narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nejra
    OrebroSweden
    2/1/11
    Overall
    "A good listen"

    Not one of the most marvelous classics I've ever listened to, yet 'North and South' definitely has that little something extra which makes it worth while. It was well narrated and partly very interesting. If you love Jane Austen and the like - this might be something for you!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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