Group Read, December 2021: North and South

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Group Read, December 2021: North and South

Nov 30, 2021, 7:46 pm

We are closing out another year of group reads with Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. Please join in the read and post any comments on this thread.

Déc 1, 2021, 4:37 am

Yess, if I can find the time, I'd love to join! Gaskell has been on my TBRs for a while.

Déc 2, 2021, 1:00 pm

I have the book down from the shelf and I hope to get started on it soon.

Déc 4, 2021, 4:20 pm

I've finished this. It went past surprisingly quickly. I had been supposed to read it some years ago when it was the book group read for the month, but work and life got in the way and I never gave it any attention. I think that meant I'd decided it was a difficult read - and it really isn't.

I like the grit in it, I like the contrasts that exist within the people and places. You have the idle rich and the working classes; the mill master and the mill hands; the two men who propose to Margaret and how they see her quite differently; the rural and industrial landscapes and how those places have different spaces for people to inhabit.

I'm glad I have finally ticked this one off the list.

Unnecessarily long and spoiler laden random ramblings here:

Déc 7, 2021, 8:03 pm

Fifty pages in and so far I am thinking: Mr. Hale, worst parent ever? Mrs. is also pretty bad. Poor Margaret!

Déc 7, 2021, 8:20 pm

>5 annamorphic: I'm at Chapter 7, and while I wouldn't say they're the worst, Margaret's parents are quite a case of frustrating! And she's left to bear and manage their practical and emotional burdens for them. At least so far...

Déc 8, 2021, 12:20 pm

I am listening to the audiobook and enjoying it. I read The Cranford Chronicles a number of years ago and enjoyed all three pieces collected there but they certainly are not as political as this book is. And I have to say that I am enjoying the drama of the strike. Can't wait to see how it is resolved.

Déc 17, 2021, 7:04 am

Margaret Hale's family is so dreadful! As, I must say, is the family of the man who loves her. Can't she find refuge in some nice, normal family?

The politics of this book are a bit heavy-handed in the beginning but as it moves on other plotlines take over. Still, I don't remember Cranford being like this at all! I remember thinking it was sort of a feel-good book, and this definitely isn't!

Déc 20, 2021, 10:33 am

I'm about a third way through at Chapter 18. Can't really say that I particularly like any of the characters so far—not that I dislike them either, although Mrs Thornton is rather unpleasant and Mr Hale is absolutely and frustratingly hopeless! As to the politics, I find myself disagreeing with either their opinions or the way they express their opinions... But probably more of the latter since I don't actually understand the social issues at hand well at all myself.

Poor Margaret! I hope Mrs Hale doesn't actually die in the book.

Déc 22, 2021, 2:28 pm

I finally started the book yesterday and if the story grabs me, I will get it finished before the month's over.

Déc 25, 2021, 2:22 pm

I'm at Chapter 33, and while Mr Thornton is rather desperately in love with Margaret, I can't say that his approach to her rejection is much to my liking at all. I agree that she has a certain pride to her, but not to the degree nor quite in the direction that he attributes to her. I must say that he understands Margaret very poorly, and it's no wonder that she herself has never considered him as a suitor. In the way of most such stories, I expect them to get together in the end, but I do hope he will have made far better progress in actually understanding her than being very largely caught up in his own admiration for her.

Déc 25, 2021, 10:52 pm

At Chapter 41. Darn it. All this dying is depressing.

Déc 26, 2021, 5:01 pm

Finished Chapter 48. This is most dismal. Whatever satisfaction I might have derived or expect to derive from any possible ending, is certainly in the basement, I think. In an odd way, although not having anything to do with Mr Thornton in truth, all of this misery is endearing him to me very poorly. I don't dislike him, or any of the characters really, or the book itself either, I just feel as if Gaskell is unnecessarily abusing Margaret -- and I hope not primarily for the sake of putting her gratefully into the warm arms of Thornton. I find his presence in many scenes quite convenient, if not ubiquitous!

Déc 26, 2021, 9:06 pm

>13 Majel-Susan: All right. I'll grant Mr Thornton's not half bad.

Déc 26, 2021, 9:57 pm

I just finished. It wasn't a happy book, but very rounded and enjoyable in its way. When it comes to social issues, I'm about as knowledgeable as Edith would be, but worse since I do have access to knowledge. I'll admit that
I was a bit more than a little lost in the earlier discussions about the problems with the strike, but as I went on, Gaskell laid out both sides of the issue impressively.

Her characters were exceptionally human as well, in how they could be both difficult and admirable, regardless of whether or not they were likeable. No one was perfect, even Margaret (though she was a jot of pride short of it). I felt for her in all the trials she faced supporting both of her parents and dealing with their deaths, as, while she kept going where the forbearance of many would have given in sooner, the incredible burden of emotion she bore to keep it up made her all the more realistic.

I could have done with less of the universal adoration and sympathy (excepting Mrs and Miss Thornton) that Margaret inspired with her every step and word. I liked the direction Margaret and Mr Thornton, in particular, were taking in the last chapters, but the last chapter didn't quite cut it for me. A few more chapters would do it, I think. (I was almost starting to doubt that they would get together in the end.)

All in all, I'm very happy to have read it. I am still not quite prepared to forgive Gaskell, though, for all the depression she's given me these recent days over how Margaret loses all of her most beloved family and friends. Towards the end, I was even preparing for Dixon to present with an "unexpected trouble" and inflict further tragedy on poor Margaret!

A great nomination, by the way, so thanks for the excuse to read it, and with a group, no less!

Déc 27, 2021, 7:47 am

>15 Majel-Susan: Enjoyed all your comments, which pretty much reflected my feelings too!

Déc 28, 2021, 10:29 pm

I have completed my read of North and South and although I found it slow to get into, once I was immersed in the story I was totally carried away. I am so glad that this was suggested as a group read as it gave me the incentive to pick it up, otherwise it may have ended up sitting on my shelf for years!