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No Such Thing As Luck: A North and South Variation Kindle Edition
|Length: 432 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Until last December, I had never read North & South, Elizabeth Gaskell’s story of the struggles between the industrialized north and the urban south of England. Nicole Clarkston has taken Gaskell’s unique premise and continued the love story between John Thornton and Margaret Hale. He, the northern master of a struggling mill and she the southern daughter of a dissatisfied vicar in the Church of England.
It would be best to have some knowledge of the N&S story before attempting this variation, whether through reading Gaskell’s book or from watching the DVD. My first exposure to N&S was through my Goodreads friends and reading a short excerpt on a fan-fiction website. It was a scene depicting the first meeting between Miss Hale and Mr. Thornton. I was so moved by the excerpt that I decided that I really needed to read N&S after all. Although this was a variation; I think it could be a stand-a-lone. Clarkston did a most excellent job of seamlessly dovetailing the two stories together. It was as though I had never left Gaskell’s story-line. Clarkston is my first foray into the N&S fan-fiction genre.
I’m not going to detail the plot; other reviews have already done that. I was amazed at Clarkston’s writing, how she gently reminded the reader by bringing important elements from canon back to mind. It was delightful to be reintroduced to characters I had forgotten about. Clarkston wove a new tapestry with our beloved characters and created a delightful story of love, redemption, forgiveness, understanding and clarity of mind where, in canon, things were clouded and threads left dangling.
Linchpin Character: In many stories, there is one character that is considered a linchpin character. The story actually revolves around them. If they change, the entire story changes. If they move to the left, the story shifts as well. If they move to the right, the… well, you get what I mean. Margaret Hale was a linchpin character in this variation. Every move she made throughout the story… had a profound effect on the story and those she encountered. She moved the narrative. She affected characters to become the best they could be as she charmed, calmed, encouraged, empowered, and enhanced their characteristics. With her, people wanted to be their best. Unless, of course, they were a slug-eating, bottom-feeding, rat… well, you get my drift.
I loved the evolution of the characters that were so ‘hard and unyielding’ in canon. Clarkston gave them an opportunity to change and to become what they were always meant to be. The biggest change was the elder Mrs. Thornton [although she probably wasn’t that old]. I loved watching the layer of frost, that had built up around her over years of hardship and disappointment, begin to thaw and crack. Under Clarkston’s microscope, we watched as Mrs. Thornton experienced a new paradigm. We felt her astonishment as emotions and feelings begin to surface and emerge. Emotions, that she was not necessarily unfamiliar with, but had not experienced in many years. Delightful! I really liked her.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Frederick Douglass
There was a big proponent for social change happening within the social structure of industrialized England. We were given many examples of the downtrodden and shown how their lives could/would change when simply given the opportunity. In N&S, we watched Higgins change throughout that story. In Clarkston’s variation, we watched him come into his own… powerful. His act of kindness to the children of his enemy was paid forward with little Johnny. Oh, I so love that little guy.
“The role model approach to social change is no substitute for challenging unjust employment practices, educational policies and housing”. Patricia Hill Collins
Through the kindness and encouragement of ‘Miss Marget,’ children were given opportunities to have an education and to better themselves. She also encouraged social changes at the mill that had a profound effect on the workers, the supervisors, the master and the community. I liked their innovations and plans for the future. Thornton was well known as a fair master and many wanted to work for him. That was not always popular with the other mills in the area.
“The question is always ‘What is the role of a labor movement?’ How much is about collective bargaining, how much is about social change for all workers?” Andy Stern
The consequence from the mill strike, that occurred in N&S, was still being felt in this variation. Therefore, the above quote really applied to both N&S and Clarkston’s work, because the strike laid the foundation on which Clarkston could build her story. The changes put forth in the first book, helped establish the second. I loved this story. It was delightful. There were times I wanted to shudder, bite my nails, cringe, cry, cheer, and laugh out loud. I didn’t want to put it down, but had to… so I could eat and get some sleep.
Rating: PG-13, steamy, not graphic; however, the mirror/windows steamed up pretty good.
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