Book Reviews · Classic Literature · POPSUGAR Reading Challenge · Romance

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2021 Update: Week Thirty-Five

Good morning, everyone! I hope that you are having a wonderful week so far, and that you are continuing to stay healthy.

For this week’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update, I decided to read North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell. This was one of the books that I was most excited to read during this year’s challenge, and I absolutely loved it!

Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: a book more than 100 years old (2015)…

North and South tells the story of Margaret Hale, the daughter of a clergyman, who lives in the south of England. When her father’s conscience leads him to resign his position in the church, he decides to become a private tutor in the northern, industrial town of Milton.

While she is blindsided by her father’s decision to leave the church, Margaret and her parents move to Milton two weeks later, where they quickly find that life in the north is very different than what they are used to.

It takes Margaret some time to adjust to her new surroundings, as well as to the attitudes and manners of those who call Milton home…especially those of John Thornton, the wealthy owner of a local cotton mill who has become a student and friend of her father’s.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading North and South! Not only does the novel have a wonderful plot, but it also includes an incredibly well-developed cast of characters (something I’ve always admired about Gaskell’s writing). In addition to this, Gaskell’s descriptions of Milton are so vivid that the reader can clearly picture the town in their mind. I found this very important, as the novel’s setting has such a significant impact on both the plot and characters…especially as Margaret has the opportunity to develop and maintain friendships with several members of the impoverished, working-class population of her new home.

This was actually the third book I have read by Elizabeth Gaskell. I read Wives and Daughters during last year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, and Cranford earlier this year. While I enjoyed both of those novels as well, I have to say that North and South is definitely my favorite of Gaskell’s books.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that North and South is my favorite book that I have read (so far) this year!

I do think it is important to mention that North and South does include some content which might cause discomfort for readers. Specifically, it includes references to suicide.

North and South was adapted into a television mini-series by the BBC in 2004. The four-episode series starred Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale and Richard Armitage as John Thornton.

While there are some differences between the novel and mini-series adaptation (including a huge difference in the circumstances surrounding Margaret and Thornton’s first meeting), I think it’s actually a pretty good representation of Gaskell’s novel. It does an especially good job of showing the disparity between the social classes of Milton.

I actually watched the mini-series for the first time prior to reading the novel (around 9-10 months ago), and then again immediately after I’d finished reading, and I have to admit that I have a really hard time choosing a favorite between them.

If you’d like to learn more about the mini-series, I hope you’ll check out my review from last year.

Whether you are a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell, enjoy classic novels, or you’re looking for a great Victorian-era romance, I definitely recommend taking the time to read North and South. It’s a wonderfully written novel that really does a good job of combining romance with the drama of life in an industrial town. I also highly recommend watching the BBC’s mini-series adaptation. It’s one of my favorites!

Next week’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge update will be posted on Saturday, September 4th. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me here on The Unapologetic Bookworm next week for this month’s Beat the Backlist update (on August 31st) and my review of Rosie Blake’s The Hygge Holiday (on September 2nd).

Have a fantastic weekend!

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