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North and South (Penguin Classics) New Ed Edition

360 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140434248
ISBN-10: 0140434240
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[An] admirable story … full of character and power"
—Charles Dickens

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140434240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140434248
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (360 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

173 of 174 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on September 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
It'd been a long time (a decade or so) since I read this Elizabeth Gaskell classic before I watched the BBC adaptation on DVD and loved it. Rereading this novel was the best decision I could have made because I hadn't appreciated it then the way I did now. North and South captures the social divide and how the manufacturing and trading industries were revolutionizing in the 1850s. Margaret Hale, the daughter of a respectable clergyman, and her family move from the south of England to the industrialized northern town of Milton after her father leaves the church because of his conscience. Margaret is appalled with Milton and the vulgar, uncouth ways of tradesmen and merchants, whom she also sees as uncivilized and cruel. However, will she change her mind after she meets and gets to know the dashing Mr. John Thornton? There are many twists throughout the novel.

I was able to appreciate the romance and building of tension between Margaret and Mr. Thornton now, especially after having watched the BBC miniseries and the wonderful Richard Armitage playing Thornton. Right now, to me, there are four memorable classic literary heroes -- Mr. Darcy, Heathcliff, Mr. Rochester and now Mr. Thornton. He is gentler and not as brooding here as he is portrayed in the miniseries, but he is as compelling as I had remembered him. The last few pages are my favorite, especially this line: "While she sought for this paper, her very heart-pulse was arrested by the tone in which Mr. Thornton spoke. His voice was hoarse, and trembling with tender passion, as he said: `Margaret.' " What a romantic line and I wish it had been added to the miniseries.
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92 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the book, like many other reviewers here, after I had watched the brilliant BBC miniseries starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe. I definitely agree with the comments of many reviewers here that you somehow seem to develop a finer appreciation of the nuances of both after doing that.

A lot of reviewers have covered the ground admirably on the story itself, so I won't go into too much detail on that. In addition to the fine development of plot and characters alike, what I found refreshing about the novel were:

a. Unlike a few other writers of her time, Elizabeth Gaskell focuses a lot more on the thought processes and feelings of the male characters in the novel. For example, you don't get to hear a lot of what Darcy or Edward Ferrars are thinking in Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility, except almost tangentially. In sharp contrast, Mrs. Gaskell gives quite a detailed peep into what John Thornton and Richard Hale are thinking, throughout the novel. As someone who is always interested in the differences in thought processes between the sexes, I found this to be refreshingly different from other novels of the time.

b. Being in business, it was quite a new experience to read about John Thornton's evolution first as a business owner and then as a "leader", to use that overused term of today. Mrs. Gaskell appears to have a remarkably sophisticated understanding of both management and labor issues.
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130 of 139 people found the following review helpful By V. Gelczis on February 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
I agree with a lot that is written in the previous reviews here. Yes, there is a very slow start to this novel. I wonder whether that's because it was first serialized by Dickens, and Mrs. Gaskell was paid by the word. And, yes, the ending is rather abrupt, especially preceded by the last few slow chapters. Maybe Dickens lost his patience.
In so many ways, though, this novel is a treasure. It's not easy to write a political novel with a strong love story and good characterizations. Gaskell takes on quite a bit and mostly succeeds in her task of describing the changes industrialization brought to England. She balances her sympathy for the workers in the factories with the dilemmas posed to the mill owners by new machinery, competition from abroad, and the threats of potential workers' strikes. She contrasts very effectively the excitement of this new way of life against the nostalgia for the agrarian past. These were new concepts in Victorian England, but they are not so foreign today that we cannot readily understand their significance.
She gives us a sympathetic and spirited heroine in Margaret Hale, who is wise beyond her years. Another colorful character is Nicholas Higgins. I found myself looking forward to his scenes because he provides the humor in an almost-humorless book. (It is funny at the end, though, and I would have liked to have seen more of this tone.)
Mr. Thornton is a character we can readily identify with--someone who triumphs over adversity and seeks to constantly better himself. Someone with high standards, yet none higher than he holds himself to. Margaret is his match in every way.
I did see many plot similarities with "Pride and Prejudice" in the love story.
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