I read North and South for my major British authors class, while studying the Victorian Era. It starts off with a girl, Margaret, wistfully thinking of her girl/friend/companion/cousin, Edith, who is getting married and therefore leaving Margaret behind. It follows with a bunch of proposals to the main girl character.
The premise of the book is that Margaret’s father, a preacher, has been asked to reaffirm his faith in order to take a new position. His views are different than those of the Church of England, so he declines and the family moves to Milton, an industrial town. They previously lived in Helstone, a lovely place in southern England that is nothing like the smoky atmosphere of northern England.
The majority of the novel revolves around the rebellion of the mill workers against the masters, one of which is Mr Thornton, who has a fancy for Margaret which she does not requite. While this may sound interesting, it was long, wordy, and hard to enjoy.
This was my first Victorian novel, and let’s just say it will probably be my last. Margaret is supposedly really attractive in a strange way, which I suppose allows for the two guys she meets to almost immediately propose to her. I was really hoping that there would be at least some romance throughout to save the book, but Margaret was too focused on taking care of her ailing mother and father that that didn’t really happen.
We read this book over about six class periods, and it was really rough trying to keep up, because it was so long and prosy. I didn’t like most of the characters and am glad I’m done with the book. I would only recommend this to fans of books like Pride and Prejudice, and it’s just because that is the only thing I’ve read like this book.