Tag: favorite books

North and South Final Discussion Questions

north and south2You guys all know North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is my favorite book and recently some of my twitter/blogger friends have been hosting a read-along and discussion group.  I posted my answers to the first sets of questions here. Now here are the final set of questions and my answers.  If you’ve read the book I would love your comments and thoughts.

Check out Suey’s Books answers here

1.  There’s much talk about all the deaths in this book. What are your feelings on that? Do you think they were necessary? Or too much?

I think it was just a part of Victorian living especially in a big city like Milton.  Maybe this sounds cold but I was actually glad to see Mr and Mrs Hale go because I never cared much for either of their characters.  I feel they are the weakest as far as character development in the novel.

I always felt like Gaskell missed the boat with Mr Hale. He starts out the novel doing this bold thing of uprooting his family and leaving his profession but then the rest of the story he is a complete pansy, dominated by his wife and others.  Mrs Hale is a character we didn’t learn much about it and is kind of a big nag so no love loss for me.They are both necessary characters to get the story moving in different directions and once served their purpose glad to see them go.

In our discussion on twitter someone mentioned perhaps Mr Hale wasn’t being bold but running away from the situation.  That is a very interesting point I had never pondered before (and I’ve read the book at least 10 times so you never stop learning about a book!).  What do you think? Is he a credible character? The rest of Gaskell’s characters are so strong I’m willing to give her a pass on 2.

Anyway, the only death that does affect me is Bessie because she is so sweet and innocent.  It is the classic Victorian type of death to frail figures such as Beth in Little Women. The nice one’s always get taken first. 😉

Aside from being important in moving the plot along, the deaths do force Margaret to do her final growing up.  She doesn’t have anyone to lean on which is key to her complete change and strength.
2. Was there anything that happened during this last part that you found surprising or unexpected? Or was everything very predictable?

I guess Leonards getting thrown by Frederick onto the train and dying is a tense surprising scene but the rest is somewhat predictable but in a very engrossing way.  It’s hard to say because it’s been so long since I read it for the first time in 2006.

3. What are your feelings on the about face Margaret and Mr. Thornton have with regard to their financial status?

It’s completely devastating for Thornton. In our day we tend to villainize anyone with money- the 1% you might say. Think of a movie like The Social Network where Zuckerberg is the bad guy and really only because he is the head of Facebook and uber-rich.

Gaskell is so great at tying Thornton’s wealth to his self-worth in an admirable way.  His father devastated his world by being foolish with money, so Thornton’s goal is to do something good for himself, family and those around him by being a good steward of his factory and money.

This tie between financial success and his character can be seen in this quote:

“Architect of his own fortunes, he attributed this to no special merit or qualities of his own, but to the power, which he believed that commerce gave to every brave, honest, and persevering man, to raise himself to a level from which he might see and read the great game of worldly success”

The change in fate was almost like God saying he was a failure not just his business.

When he loses the factory it is as if the world is saying to him he is no better than his father. It’s just devastating.

Margaret getting money is more of a convenience for the story and less influential on her character.

4. Do you think Margaret is justified in being so anguished over the lie that she told? Does it mostly have to do with her feelings for Mr. Thornton? Or something else?
I do because it is such a humbling moment for her.  She is a character that prides herself on her good instincts and doing the right thing.  That’s why she jumped in front of the mob. The idea she would lie and more importantly anyone would think she had sullied her name with a secret romance is too much.

The fact it is Mr Thornton, who she is beginning to have feelings for, makes it even worse. But we all have more shame when our sins are made public than when they are confessed to God alone.  That’s just human nature.
5. At what moment exactly do you think her feelings for Mr. Thornton completely changed?

I think when Mrs Thornton comes to talk to her after the incident and she asks herself

“Why do I care what he thinks, beyond the mere loss of his good opinion as regards my telling the truth or not? I cannot tell…”  That’s the beginning of the realization of how much the loss of his good opinion hurts her.

6. Discuss the character of Nicholas Higgins. What do you think about the relationship he has with Mr. Thornton? Did he change Mr. Thornton? Did Mr. Thornton change him?
He’s a lovely character.  I think he is a man who is a great follower but not a great leader.  In that sense him and Thornton balance each other out very well.  When he waits at the door and pleads for a job it is such a humble moment.  He is trying to do the right thing but he is not a Messiah character.  He makes mistakes but pleads anyway. It’s such a well written scene.  Thornton just can’t turn someone so sincere away.

7. How does Mr. Thornton’s views on the master/worker relationship change? Or. . .did it change? Did your view on this issue change as you experienced this book?
I think Thornton realizes how much he needs the good workers.  When Higgins does the extra work to get the job done it is such a lovely moment. Before the strike he probably saw his men as somewhat replaceable and now he knows better.

I’ve never been a big fan of unions but Gaskell does such a good job not showing her hand. We don’t know if she likes the unions or thinks they are thugs.  A lesser writer would have gone one way or the other, so as a result of her skill I am also left unsure.  They certainly do much good and are needed but they can also be bullies and misrepresent the needs of the workers.

8. Do you have a favorite quote from this book? If so, share and let us know why it’s your favorite.
“He shrank from hearing Margaret’s very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her–while he was jealous of her–while he renounced her–he loved her sorely, in spite of himself.”

(It doesn’t get much better than that my friends…)

9. The ending! Are you happy with how things turned out? (Try not to compare with the movie here… that’s for a later question!)

I love the ending.  I think it is a sweet moment.  Shouldn’t you feel like you are getting the better partner when you marry? I love when they say “I am not worthy”. I think that is beautiful and not over-the-top like a more tawdry novel might do (but gives us a little more romantic dialogue than Austen ever does).

10. What aspect of this book would you like to address that we haven’t yet talked about? Is there something we’ve skipped over in our discussions that makes you want to say… “Yeah, but what about….?”  And if you’ve got nothing there, answer this: Did you like the book? Why or why not?

It is my favorite book.  It improves on me every time I read it because of how much I love the characters.  A great book allows its characters to grow over time and is rich enough to show that growth in a wide range of characters not just the central hero.

Gaskell is a master at allowing Margaret to change from a pampered princess who scorns men of business as not gentlemanly enough to a humble, sweet landlord. That’s pretty amazing. Thornton also grows from a man who has been idolized to a wounded but proud creature. It’s so lovely.

Smaller characters show wonderful growth like Mrs Thornton and Higgins. It’s a book I never tire of reading because I like the people so much. I like being in their world.

I love how it tackles issues beyond a romantic drama that we still face today but it doesn’t beat you over the head with them.  It presents certain perspectives and lets you as a reader decide what you think.

I also love how Gaskell writes women in all of her novels including North and South.  They are independent, confident, thinkers with strong character arcs.  If you think about the women in most Dickens novels they are weak, frail creatures, so it is a huge accomplishment what Gaskell does.  If you changed the language and clothes her characters feel very modern in behavior and choices.

I really do think it is the best novel I have ever read and when I’m frustrated with preachy modern stories with predictable characters I pull it out and read it again.  It just always makes me happy.

BONUS MOVIE THOUGHTS:

The miniseries is excellent.  I still think it would make a great feature film and I’m shocked nobody in Hollywood has taken it up as a project.  For the record I think Michael Fassbender would be the perfect Thornton.

The movie has gorgeous cinematography and the recreation of the cotton mill using an actual museum in England is amazing.

cotton-snowflakes-north-and-south-factoryThe script adaptation by the amazing Sandy Welch is wonderful.  She manages to not only include everything from the novel but give a few scenes a modern sensibility which is quite lovely and in keeping with the spirit of Gaskell’s prose.

The score is also lovely by Martin Phipps- drawing you in and creating tension and passion when needed.

thornton23

But the real strength of the miniseries is the casting.  Of course Richard Armitage is so good as Thornton.  He captures the pride and all those British stares we expect in such a movie.  He also is vulnerable and towards the end quite devastating. A lesser actor may have played him very one note but he completely captures the nuances of Gaskell’s writing .

cotton-snowflakes-north-and-south

That said, I don’t think Daniela Denby-Ashe gets quite the credit she deserves as Margaret.  She is quite up to the task for sparring with Armitage. There is an elegance and innocence to her performance that endears her to the viewer right away.

The rest of the cast is wonderful including Brendan Coyle as Higgins who would later be famous in Downton Abbey as Mr Bates.  Sinead Cusack is also so great as Mrs Thornton.

 

The Endingnorth-and-south-ending1

A lot of people in the discussion group were upset with the ending in the book.  Here’s what I would say to them.

I like the ending in the movie.  It is a suspension of belief, a fairytale and extremely romantic. The man looks across the train station and see’s the girl and he has loosed the knot in his cravat all casual style. He comes towards her and they talk, declare their love and kiss. I love it!

But does it really make sense to the rest of the story?  Think about it.  The pair were almost kept apart because of a mistaken scene in a train station between Margaret and another man.  Would either of them really have kissed in public like that?  No way.  While it is very romantic as fairytales can be I actually prefer the ending in the book.

They have had passionate discussions throughout the book and how appropriate for it all to come down to the two of them talking and finally understanding one another.  I love how they both feel unworthy of the other’s love and good opinion.  That is perfect for a book based on two people who start out the story feeling superior to each other in every way.

I probably won’t convince anyone but I love both endings. 🙂

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Book Club, Favorite Books and a Party

So today was a great day! I’ve mentioned my book club many times on this blog but today was not only a meeting but a celebration of 5 years and 40 books.

I had a lot of fun picking up different items for the decor, designing the cake (executed by Cakes by Socorro out of Provo), getting favors and reading the book.  It was a lot of fun and all the work was well worth it.  It’s very satisfying to see something in your head executed and to give your friends an experience gift. I had a blast not just today but for many weeks, so it was well worth it.

A lot of people have asked me for advice on starting a book club.  Every group of friends is different (mine is an electic mix of people that are really only connected through me so if I want it, I have to do it)

Just for fun I also made 2 videos about books- one is My Favorite Books You’ve Heard Of and the next is My Favorite Books You Haven’t Heard Of.  What do you think?  Have you or have you not heard of the one’s I mention in either video.  Like or dislike them?

 

Even if you don’t ever look at youtube if you could subscribe to my channel I’d really appreciate it.  I’m working hard to make them more professional and learning a lot.

North and South: My Favorite Book

north and south

I’ve written a number of posts about the English writer Elizabeth Gaskell but since we are doing her book North and South for book club I thought I would add one more.  Let me explain to all of you why it is my favorite book (with the Book Thief being a close second- I know quite the contrast!).

North and South tells the fictional story of Margaret Hale who in the mid-nineteenth century is forcibly moved from her beloved South of England to big industrialized north.  There she meets a hard working and seemingly aloof textile factory owner named John Thornton.  Having grown up with an aristocratic notion of a ‘gentleman’ Margaret is initially disgusted by the tradesman Thornton and see’s him as a brute.  This impression is added to when she meets the Higgins family who work at the factory and are in dire straights.

Higgins and Thornton
Higgins and Thornton

The men at the factory, led by Higgins, are debating about striking and initially Margaret is sympathetic to their cause but as it becomes more violent she becomes conflicted.  She also gets to know Thornton more and their vigorous debates on social issues spark contempt and attraction at the same time. Both are used to being doted on and praised and the challenge of an equally vibrant and thoughtful mind draws them together but the path to love isn’t easy or predictable…

So are you intrigued?  I am and I’ve read this book two or three times every year since I first read it in 2006.  I was assigned it at a book club and I was the only girl who finished it but I think despite its nearly 400 pages I read it in a couple of days.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to it knowing nothing about the story, writer, or having seen the wonderful if slightly different BBC miniseries.

North and South is often compared to Pride and Prejudice with some cause.  I am sure Gaskell was a fan of Austen as her works became very trendy in the 1850’s.  However, Gaskell is also a contemporary of Dickens (Dickens is supposedly the one who suggested the title North and South when it became serialized in his magazine).  The romance and the prejudice of title characters is similar to Pride and Prejudice but it adds the social commentary of a Dickens novel and does not have the comedic wit of an Austen book.

north and south 2
Margaret and Thornton

Thornton and Margaret are in my opinion the two most well developed characters in literature.  Where Darcy and Lizzie change pretty dramatically (Darcy falls in love with Lizzie in basically a weekend), the leads in North and South develop a love and understanding of each other slowly, bit-by-bit.  When I first read the book I didn’t really like either character but I saw them grow and change the way real people might change.  Even on a 10th or 11th read-through there are not 2 characters that I want to more desperately fall in love than Margaret and Thornton.

Gaskell also gives all of her heroines a remarkably modern viewpoint and voice.  Take away the Victorian language and these characters could be a Bridget Jones or in a Sophie Kinsella novel.  What takes Austen half a book and a proposal to vocalize, Gaskell’s heroine says in a first meeting.  In her initial discussion with Thornton Margaret passionately defends the rights of the workers and calls him a “master” with a “Darkshire Egos, dependents clinging to him on all sides” .  I would say pretty bold even for a modern girl!

But, adding more complexity to the character, soon after this discussion Margaret steps out to defend Thornton from union thuggary.  She seems to have innate idea of right and wrong and is confident enough to act upon it.  Both Thornton and Margaret are emotionally honest in this way.  Him with a bold proposal, her with a rescue.  Then the story continues to add layer after layer. (is that obscured enough for you? Tried to not be to spoiler)

I also like North and South because it is not centered around the characters marital hopes.  In fact, that is somewhat incidental to the plot.  Gaskell, like Dickens, hopes to champion political change but she also invites more of a discussion than he ever allows.  There are points in favor of both the “master and man” debates within her novels and one could make a compelling case for Gaskell advocating either side.  That is great writing in my book.

north and south vs pride and prejudice
North and South vs Pride and Prejudice

Another difference in North and South from Pride and Prejudice is Thorton is a fleshed out character that we see a full journey from.  We hear his grief and feel the pressure that weighs him down as owner of the mill and lovesick man.  In their first discussion Thornton tells Margaret:

“I value my own independence so highly that I can fancy no degradation greater than that of having another man perpetually directing and advising and lecturing me, or even planning too closely in any way about my actions”

What a man right?  He has felt the weight of his father’s indiscretions, mother’s dependence, sister’s carelessness and his communities reliance, and never been confronted by anything he could not master or adapt to until Margaret.  That is such an attractive idea for a woman.  To be the girl that causes such a man to change and learn!

But he is not alone in change.  Margaret changes too, maybe even more so.  She learns that there is more gray than her stilted Southern ways have taught her.  By being the target of a misunderstanding in the story she comes to realize that all is not always as it seems at first and that the most important part of Thornton’s character is his honest heart. In this sense their mutual understanding is very similar to Darcy and Lizzie.

In the final scene in the novel Margaret declares “I am not good enough” and Thornton says “don’t mock my own feeling of unworthiness”.  Is that not also a very modern sense of love?  That we should feel we have gotten the better half of the bargain?  And even though it is clear to any astute reader that this will be the ending of the story, the journey is so satisfying that I want to cheer every time.

north and south 3

I just love it.  Read it!! (and then watch the miniseries. Be smart like me and do it in the right order!)

A to Z Book Survey

My friend over at Suey’s Books posted this survey of books and I thought I’d steal it and post my own answers.

A uthor you’ve read the most books from: I guess Jane Austen; although I’ve read all 5 Elizabeth Gaskell books.

B est Sequel Ever: I can’t think of one.  Maybe Anne of Avonlea

C urrently Reading-  Book Thief for the read-along, Got Pippi Longstocking on audible yesterday

D rink of Choice While Reading: Whatever I have on hand but I love flavored waters

E -reader or Physical Book? physical book all the way.  I spend too much of my life looking at a screen

F ictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School: Does he actually have to be high school age?  If not than I’d say Mr Knightly from Emma because he’s sweet but tells her when she’s acting like an idiot, hard for me to think of a high school age character I would have dated but maybe Calvin from Wrinkle in Time.

G lad You Gave This Book A Chance: Gift from the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindbergh

H idden Gem Book: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller- totally spoke to me, even though basically a self-help book

I mportant Moment in your Reading Life: Finishing Little Women when I was 8 or 9, my first big novel

J ust Finished: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

K inds of Books You Won’t Read: I guess anything that’s too trashy or the language is has too much profanity

L ongest Book You’ve Read: Middlemarch by George Elliott.

M ajor book hangover because of: Not sure what that is. I loved the hunger games while I was reading them but afterwards I felt depressed and sad.  Dystopian novels tend to do that to me.

N umber of Bookcases You Own: 7 of all different sizes!

O ne Book You Have Read Multiple Times: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  Read it every year.  Love it.

P referred Place To Read: Bed unless I’m feeling too tired than the couch.

Q uote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: 

 “The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.” Anne Marrow Lindbergh
R eading Regret: That a box of my books got given to DI including my Kierkegaard with all my notes.  Why!
S eries You Started and Need to Finish (all books are out in series): Matched series; although I haven’t heard good things.
T hree of your All-Time Favorite Books: The Book Thief, North and South, The Hiding Place
U napologetic Fangirl For: Markus Zusak, Haven Kimmel (if we are talking living).  I also love the Pioneer Woman if you count cookbooks.  Norah Ephron, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell if you are talking all time

V ery Excited for This Release More Than All the Others: I was really excited for Blackmoore but can’t think of anything else.

W orst Bookish Habit: Skimming over sections of description and details to get to the good stuff.

X Marks The Spot (Count 27 books on your bookshelf and tell us what is next): Our Town by Thornton Wilder.  One of my favorite plays ever.

Y our latest book purchase:
Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson, Pippi Longstocking if you count audiobooks

Z ZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): Blackmoore even though it was silly.  I wanted to know how it ended.

Books-06

Ordinary Fantasy

This is a continuation of my last post but I decided to separate them out.

Last night I went to a book signing by Ally Condie author of Matched. This is a dystopian novel about a society that controls everything by statistical analysis.  I enjoyed it and it was neat meeting the author.  She was very personable and friendly, answering questions for an hour.  I liked how she talked about the process of writing.  It was more scattered, jumping around the text, than I have heard from other writers.  I also thought it was interesting how she pulled from little and big things in her life.  Something like watching her mother paint became an element in the story.

Matched- (My Goodreads Review) 3 stars.

I feel kind of bad for Condie because her book feels really redundant of a million other similar books that have become popular in recent years; however, it is a shame because I think it is better written than most of those books.
Matched tells the story of a girl who lives in a Distopian society where everything is controlled via statistics for maximum happiness. While I wish the philosophic debate had been handled more than the gooey romance it was an interesting premise. Is it better to have guaranteed happiness or the risk of chosen happiness?
On one hand I appreciate that Condie gives 2 love interests that are compelling for Cassia but neither of them are developed enough, especially Ky. He is basically a staring, brooding, poetry reading presence but no real depth. Finally in the last 3rd of the book I felt like I got to know him a bit more but for most of the book I was thinking ‘Why is she picking this dope over a life-long friend like Xander’.
Still, for these kind of books it was pretty good. I’d recommend it to a girl in its target audience. Most of the writing is good except for the romantic sections. They come off as very corny.
Kind of like Hunger Games I don’t really feel much of a desire to read the entire series. hmmm?

I’ve really enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had this year to meet authors.  I don’t know if I will ever write a book but I find the process fascinating.  Even writing this blog helps me feel a kinship to other writers and listening to their feedback and advice makes my entries better. If I do write a book I can tell you what type of book it will be- either a memoir or a book that reads like a memoir, that feels like a real story.

Not my favorite genre but I still enjoyed it. The romance is pretty cheesy but a good setting, creative world.

An Ordinary Fantasy

The girls I was with Tennille and Jenny, were talking about their favorite books and many of them were teen literature featuring robots, vampires, werewolves, mutants, super heroes ect.  I mentioned the books I like and it was interesting to hear their reaction.  Some of my favorites they liked but some they found boring.  As we chatted I realized I like books about REAL PEOPLE.  Even if it is fiction the characters have to feel somewhat real in order for me to relate to them.  This is the way I have always been.

My friends and I at the book signing.

I try to be open minded about any genre of books and have books I like from many.  However, of my top 10 favorite books half are memoirs or based on a true story, 1 is poetry, 3 are classics and 1 is a contemporary classic:

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

2. Red China Blues by Jan Wong

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4.  Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Carey

5. Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes

6. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriett Jacobs

7.  Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Patton

8.  North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

9. Delicacy and Strength of Lace by James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko (A book that nobody else seems to like as much as me but so what!)

10. The Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop

(If I added an 11 it would be My Life in France by Julia Child.).

Not a magician, werewolf, vamipire or fairytale in the bunch.  As my friends and I were talking one of them said ‘I read books to get out of my world not to stay in it’.   I found this interesting because I also read books for the same reason.  Puzzling hah?

Why do I respond to books about ‘real’ people and feel tepid about what most would consider a fantasy?  Is it possible I have a somewhat ordinary fantasy?

I have never been a dreamer.  Never had a bucket list or a dream guy or a list of great things I wanted to do.  I have never wanted to be more than I already am. The best people in my life have been the most simple people who really believed in me.

Maybe the reason I relate to regular stories is that a lot of the stuff which is easy for others has been difficult for me.  (I know this is relative as some have many more struggles but hear me out).  For example, losing weight which appears to be easy for others has always been so difficult.  Simply eating is a task filled with stress and peril for me.   Its no wonder that characters who live in a ‘real’ world without these trials feel like a fantasy or an escape. For me,  just being accepted and feeling beautiful or smart was a fantasy, was something I felt I lacked.  It took clawing through it all to be the confident, happy woman I am today.

Also, schooling was a challenge for me.  Between the bullying, strabismus problem and mild dyslexia, things like reading, focusing, getting good grades were always more difficult for me than for my siblings and friends.  I think a fantasy book did not help me to deal with any of these problems where a book about a real person can provide solutions, perspective, and inspiration- even one set centuries ago.

Characters like Jo March, Anne Shirley or Atticus Finch gave me a mold that I could follow.  They were my version of a fantasy of what I would want to be like if all my dreams came true.  Stories in other worlds, imaginative as they might be, did not give me inspiration and solutions I could apply to my everyday life; therefore, I found them less compelling to read.  I couldn’t relate to the characters or their challenges.

My romantic fantasies are also quite ordinary.  As someone who has never been kissed, just a regular, ordinary romance excites me.  No vampires or life saving peril needed.

Neither one is right or wrong its just different tastes. The older I’ve gotten the more open minded I am and the better reader I am, so I try to gain from all literature I read. However, my favorites will always be about ‘real people’.

What about you?  Are you more motivated by ‘real life’ stories or by fantasy (other worlds, magic powers, non-human creatures etc)? Do you find stories about ordinary people to be boring and prefer a new, different world?   What are some of your favorite ‘real people’ books?

On that note I am going to see the Hunger Games tonight…See, I’m expanding and growing!

Wives and Daughters

Wives and DaughtersWives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars  (My first Goodreads review posted in my blog.  I didn’t know you could do that but hope to do it many more times in the future.  If you are on goodreads and we aren’t friends please add me!)

Whenever I get bored with reading I go back and reread either Gaskell or Austen (with an occasional Elliott or Bronte thrown in the mix). They are my version of comfort food in book form. Wives and Daughters is a splendid book with humor, warmth, intrigue and of course romance. I probably read it and North and South 4-5 times a year if not more so.

The key to it is Molly Gibson. While North and South is my favorite Gaskell, Molly Gibson is my favorite character. She may be my favorite character in all of literature. Gaskell knew how to write women. I feel like she gets inside my head with her characters better than any other author.

Despite the prim and proper age which she lived she managed to always write women that are complex, dynamic and bold. Molly is a perfect example. She is one part intellect and one part frustratingly naive. She is thoughtful towards all but also slightly petty. Her heart is easily attached but she is by no means a push-over. She is insanely likable because we all can relate to some part of her personality.

All of Gaskell’s women are free with their opinion and feel remarkably modern. Molly and Margaret (North and South) are not waiting around to be useful or make an impact on society, as you see in the Austen books (I realize they were written in a different era but still).

The attribute I relate the most to in Molly is her deep and abiding love for others. She genuinely loves the Hamley’s and even finds a way to love the manipulative yet sympathetic Cynthia. Hyacinth is the only Gaskell character I can think of which borders on caricature, but even then you do see some perspective as to why she feels she must act in such a silly way.

Wives and Daughters is practically perfect- if only Gaskell had finished the last chapter before her death…Nevertheless, it will make you laugh, cry, smile and question your own behavior. It tells a love story in the best possible way- a meeting of the minds, of 2 kindred spirits that finally realize they are meant to be together. Who doesn’t love that? 🙂

(Molly actually reminds me a lot of my sister (minus the negative characteristics listed above!) who is so thoughtful, kind, inquisitive and forgiving.)

PS- I love how the main critique of this book is that it is long. Duh. You think you could tell that by looking at it.

Now the question is what do I read next?…I always ask that after reading Gaskell? Nothing else quite compares in my eyes. Christmas Carol will probably be next up!

The BBC Miniseries is excellent with wonderful performances. Michael Gambon is always superb in everything he is in and he gives a heart wrenchingly nuanced performance as Squire Hamley (a role that could be very cliched).  Justine Waddell is very good as Molly Gibson.

The series also does a good job creating a pitch-perfect ending.  I recommend reading the book first, develop your own ending and see how it compares with the series.  It is currently a stream on Netflix.  I wonder when Hollywood is going to get with it and create a regular movie version of Gaskell?  They’ve done Austen to death. You think they’d be jumping at the chance to do Gaskell?