Review: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Here we go; a review of a classic I’ve been meaning to read for quite a while.


Spoiler Free Review

Title: North and South

Author: Elizabeth Gaskell

Published: Vintage, 2008 but first published 1855

Pages: 547

Some links: Goodreads and Amazon


The first time I came across this book was when my Mum was watching the Richard Armitage dramatisation of North and South on the television. I was instantly hooked and loved the story, even though there was a lot of politics in it (which normally puts me off). I wanted to read this for a while but, as I’ve said many a time, I have to be in the correct mood for a classic. Ever since I’ve found Librivox I’ve been much more open to reading them. I guess because can’t be put off by the size of the book since someone else is reading it to me, haha! So, after Jane Eyre I decided to have a crack at Elizabeth Gaskell’s well known novel.

The story centres around a young woman who has reluctantly moved from the south of England to a northern town called Milton with her parents. She finds adapting to the ways of the North difficult as they are vastly different to what she is used to. There, she meets with a range of interesting characters, all of whom are from different social sectors. She develops a stormy relationship with mill owner John Thornton and wonders if she will ever find Milton feeling like home.

It was interesting to read a classic which was so entrenched in the political issues of the time, as many classics I have read up to now have had little political plot lines. If I’m being honest, these were the parts that I enjoyed least as I tend to become completely focussed on the relationships of the characters – a little flaw of mine. I wasn’t that interested in those parts in the beginning, although I did become more interested as it threaded more fully into the story.

I liked the characters of Margaret and John, and the rest of their families, even all of their obvious flaws. In terms of the relationship with Margaret and John, I was quite surprised that the inception of their relationship started so quickly into the novel – different to the normal 17th century classic structure. This gave them a lot of time to really get to know each other, and grow beyond those first impressions. Plus those Pride and Prejudice-y vibes throughout made this story even more of a hit for me!

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

-just because I found myself getting a little bit tired of the political stuff 🙂

If you’ve enjoyed classics and fancy something a little more politically minded, this would be a treat for you! As for me, I’m definitely planning on watching that adaptation as soon as I  have some time on my hands. I can’t wait for a TV period drama binge!


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