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North and South

North and South

4.4 236
by Elizabeth Gaskell

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Mary Gaskell's North and South examines the nature of social authority and obedience and provides an insightful description of the role of middle class women in nineteenth century society. Through the story of Margaret Hate, a southerner who moves to the northern industrial town of HiLton, Gaskell skillfully explores issues of class and gender, as Margaret's sympathy


Mary Gaskell's North and South examines the nature of social authority and obedience and provides an insightful description of the role of middle class women in nineteenth century society. Through the story of Margaret Hate, a southerner who moves to the northern industrial town of HiLton, Gaskell skillfully explores issues of class and gender, as Margaret's sympathy for the town mitt workers conflicts with her growing attraction to the mitt owner, John Thornton. This new and revised expanded edition sets the novel in the context of Victorian social and medical debate.

Editorial Reviews

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

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London : Chapman and Hall
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North and South

By Elizabeth Gaskell


Copyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-5979-7



'Wooed and married and a'.'


But, as Margaret half suspected, Edith had fallen asleep. She lay curled up on the sofa in the back drawing-room in Harley Street, looking very lovely in her white muslin and blue ribbons. If Titania had ever been dressed in white muslin and blue ribbons, and had fallen asleep on a crimson damask sofa in a back drawing-room, Edith might have been taken for her. Margaret was struck afresh by her cousin's beauty. They had grown up together from childhood, and all along Edith had been remarked upon by every one, except Margaret, for her prettiness; but Margaret had never thought about it until the last few days, when the prospect of soon losing her companion seemed to give force to every sweet quality and charm which Edith possessed. They had been talking about wedding dresses, and wedding ceremonies; and Captain Lennox, and what he had told Edith about her future life at Corfu, where his regiment was stationed; and the difficulty of keeping a piano in good tune (a difficulty which Edith seemed to consider as one of the most formidable that could befall her in her married life), and what gowns she should want in the visits to Scotland, which would immediately succeed her marriage; but the whispered tone had latterly become more drowsy; and Margaret, after a pause of a few minutes, found, as she fancied, that in spite of the buzz in the next room, Edith had rolled herself up into a soft ball of muslin and ribbon, and silken curls, and gone off into a peaceful little after-dinner nap.

Margaret had been on the point of telling her cousin of some of the plans and visions which she entertained as to her future life in the country parsonage, where her father and mother lived; and where her bright holidays had always been passed, though for the last ten years her aunt Shaw's house had been considered as her home. But in default of a listener, she had to brood over the change in her life silently as heretofore. It was a happy brooding, although tinged with regret at being separated for an indefinite time from her gentle aunt and dear cousin. As she thought of the delight of filling the important post of only daughter in Helstone parsonage, pieces of the conversation out of the next room came upon her ears. Her aunt Shaw was talking to the five or six ladies who had been dining there, and whose husbands were still in the dining-room. They were the familiar acquaintances of the house; neighbours whom Mrs. Shaw called friends, because she happened to dine with them more frequently than with any other people, and because if she or Edith wanted anything from them, or they from her, they did not scruple to make a call at each other's houses before luncheon. These ladies and their husbands were invited, in their capacity of friends, to eat a farewell dinner in honour of Edith's approaching marriage. Edith had rather objected to this arrangement, for Captain Lennox was expected to arrive by a late train this very evening; but, although she was a spoiled child, she was too careless and idle to have a very strong will of her own, and gave way when she found that her mother had absolutely ordered those extra delicacies of the season which are always supposed to be efficacious against immoderate grief at farewell dinners. She contented herself by leaning back in her chair, merely playing with the food on her plate, and looking grave and absent; while all around her were enjoying the mots of Mr. Grey, the gentleman who always took the bottom of the table at Mrs. Shaw's dinner parties, and asked Edith to give them some music in the drawing-room. Mr. Grey was particularly agreeable over this farewell dinner, and the gentlemen staid down stairs longer than usual. It was very well they did—to judge from the fragments of conversation which Margaret overheard.

'I suffered too much myself; not that I was not extremely happy with the poor dear General, but still disparity of age is a drawback; one that I was resolved Edith should not have to encounter. Of course, without any maternal partiality, I foresaw that the dear child was likely to marry early; indeed, I had often said that I was sure she would be married before she was nineteen. I had quite a prophetic feeling when Captain Lennox'—and here the voice dropped into a whisper, but Margaret could easily supply the blank. The course of true love in Edith's case had run remarkably smooth. Mrs. Shaw had given way to the presentiment, as she expressed it; and had rather urged on the marriage, although it was below the expectations which many of Edith's acquaintances had formed for her, a young and pretty heiress. But Mrs. Shaw said that her only child should marry for love,—and sighed emphatically, as if love had not been her motive for marrying the General. Mrs. Shaw enjoyed the romance of the present engagement rather more than her daughter. Not but that Edith was very thoroughly and properly in love; still she would certainly have preferred a good house in Belgravia, to all the picturesqueness of the life which Captain Lennox described at Corfu. The very parts which made Margaret glow as she listened, Edith pretended to shiver and shudder at; partly for the pleasure she had in being coaxed out of her dislike by her fond lover, and partly because anything of a gipsy or make-shift life was really distasteful to her. Yet had any one come with a fine house, and a fine estate, and a fine title to boot, Edith would still have clung to Captain Lennox while the temptation lasted; when it was over, it is possible she might have had little qualms of ill-concealed regret that Captain Lennox could not have united in his person everything that was desirable. In this she was but her mother's child; who, after deliberately marrying General Shaw with no warmer feeling than respect for his character and establishment, was constantly, though quietly, bemoaning her hard lot in being united to one whom she could not love.

'I have spared no expense in her trousseau,' were the next words Margaret heard.

'She has all the beautiful Indian shawls and scarfs the General gave to me, but which I shall never wear again.'

'She is a lucky girl,' replied another voice, which Margaret knew to be that of Mrs. Gibson, a lady who was taking a double interest in the conversation, from the fact of one of her daughters having been married within the last few weeks.

'Helen had set her heart upon an Indian shawl, but really when I found what an extravagant price was asked, I was obliged to refuse her. She will be quite envious when she hears of Edith having Indian shawls. What kind are they? Delhi? with the lovely little borders?'

Margaret heard her aunt's voice again, but this time it was as if she had raised herself up from her half-recumbent position, and were looking into the more dimly lighted back drawing-room. 'Edith! Edith!' cried she; and then she sank as if wearied by the exertion. Margaret stepped forward.

'Edith is asleep, Aunt Shaw. Is it anything I can do?'

All the ladies said 'Poor child!' on receiving this distressing intelligence about Edith; and the minute lap-dog in Mrs. Shaw's arms began to bark, as if excited by the burst of pity.

'Hush, Tiny! you naughty little girl! you will waken your mistress. It was only to ask Edith if she would tell Newton to bring down her shawls: perhaps you would go, Margaret dear?'

Margaret went up into the old nursery at the very top of the house, where Newton was busy getting up some laces which were required for the wedding. While Newton went (not without a muttered grumbling) to undo the shawls, which had already been exhibited four or five times that day, Margaret looked round upon the nursery; the first room in that house with which she had become familiar nine years ago, when she was brought, all untamed from the forest, to share the home, the play, and the lessons of her cousin Edith. She remembered the dark, dim look of the London nursery, presided over by an austere and ceremonious nurse, who was terribly particular about clean hands and torn frocks. She recollected the first tea up there—separate from her father and aunt, who were dining somewhere down below an infinite depth of stairs; for unless she were up in the sky (the child thought), they must be deep down in the bowels of the earth. At home—before she came to live in Harley Street—her mother's dressing-room had been her nursery; and, as they kept early hours in the country parsonage, Margaret had always had her meals with her father and mother. Oh! well did the tall stately girl of eighteen remember the tears shed with such wild passion of grief by the little girl of nine, as she hid her face under the bed-clothes, in that first night; and how she was bidden not to cry by the nurse, because it would disturb Miss Edith; and how she had cried as bitterly, but more quietly, till her newly-seen, grand, pretty aunt had come softly upstairs with Mr. Hale to show him his little sleeping daughter. Then the little Margaret had hushed her sobs, and tried to lie quiet as if asleep, for fear of making her father unhappy by her grief, which she dared not express before her aunt, and which she rather thought it was wrong to feel at all after the long hoping, and planning, and contriving they had gone through at home, before her wardrobe could be arranged so as to suit her grander circumstances, and before papa could leave his parish to come up to London, even for a few days.

Now she had got to love the old nursery, though it was but a dismantled place; and she looked all round, with a kind of cat-like regret, at the idea of leaving it for ever in three days.

'Ah Newton!' said she, 'I think we shall all be sorry to leave this dear old room.'

'Indeed, miss, I shan't for one. My eyes are not so good as they were, and the light here is so bad that I can't see to mend laces except just at the window, where there's always a shocking draught—enough to give one one's death of cold.'

Well, I dare say you will have both good light and plenty of warmth at Naples. You must keep as much of your darning as you can till then. Thank you, Newton, I can take them down—you're busy.'

So Margaret went down laden with shawls, and snuffing up their spicy Eastern smell. Her aunt asked her to stand as a sort of lay figure on which to display them, as Edith was still asleep. No one thought about it; but Margaret's tall, finely made figure, in the black silk dress which she was wearing as mourning for some distant relative of her father's, set off the long beautiful folds of the gorgeous shawls that would have half- smothered Edith. Margaret stood right under the chandelier, quite silent and passive, while her aunt adjusted the draperies. Occasionally, as she was turned round, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror over the chimney-piece, and smiled at her own appearance there—the familiar features in the usual garb of a princess. She touched the shawls gently as they hung around her, and took a pleasure in their soft feel and their brilliant colours, and rather liked to be dressed in such splendour—enjoying it much as a child would do, with a quiet pleased smile on her lips. Just then the door opened, and Mr. Henry Lennox was suddenly announced. Some of the ladies started back, as if half-ashamed of their feminine interest in dress. Mrs. Shaw held out her hand to the new-comer; Margaret stood perfectly still, thinking she might be yet wanted as a sort of block for the shawls; but looking at Mr. Lennox with a bright, amused face, as if sure of his sympathy in her sense of the ludicrousness at being thus surprised.

Her aunt was so much absorbed in asking Mr. Henry Lennox—who had not been able to come to dinner—all sorts of questions about his brother the bridegroom, his sister the bridesmaid (coming with the Captain from Scotland for the occasion), and various other members of the Lennox family, that Margaret saw she was no more wanted as shawl-bearer, and devoted herself to the amusement of the other visitors, whom her aunt had for the moment forgotten. Almost immediately, Edith came in from the back drawing-room, winking and blinking her eyes at the stronger light, shaking back her slightly-ruffled curls, and altogether looking like the Sleeping Beauty just startled from her dreams. Even in her slumber she had instinctively felt that a Lennox was worth rousing herself for; and she had a multitude of questions to ask about dear Janet, the future, unseen sister-in-law, for whom she professed so much affection, that if Margaret had not been very proud she might have almost felt jealous of the mushroom rival. As Margaret sank rather more into the background on her aunt's joining the conversation, she saw Henry Lennox directing his look towards a vacant seat near her; and she knew perfectly well that as soon as Edith released him from her questioning, he would take possession of that chair. She had not been quite sure, from her aunt's rather confused account of his engagements, whether he would come that night; it was almost a surprise to see him; and now she was sure of a pleasant evening. He liked and disliked pretty nearly the same things that she did. Margaret's face was lightened up into an honest, open brightness. By-and-by he came. She received him with a smile which had not a tinge of shyness or self-consciousness in it.

'Well, I suppose you are all in the depths of business—ladies' business, I mean. Very different to my business, which is the real true law business. Playing with shawls is very different work to drawing up settlements.

'Ah, I knew how you would be amused to find us all so occupied in admiring finery. But really Indian shawls are very perfect things of their kind.'

'I have no doubt they are. Their prices are very perfect, too. Nothing wanting.' The gentlemen came dropping in one by one, and the buzz and noise deepened in tone.

'This is your last dinner-party, is it not? There are no more before Thursday?'

'No. I think after this evening we shall feel at rest, which I am sure I have not done for many weeks; at least, that kind of rest when the hands have nothing more to do, and all the arrangements are complete for an event which must occupy one's head and heart. I shall be glad to have time to think, and I am sure Edith will.'

'I am not so sure about her; but I can fancy that you will. Whenever I have seen you lately, you have been carried away by a whirlwind of some other person's making.'

'Yes,' said Margaret, rather sadly, remembering the never-ending commotion about trifles that had been going on for more than a month past: 'I wonder if a marriage must always be preceded by what you call a whirlwind, or whether in some cases there might not rather be a calm and peaceful time just before it.'

'Cinderella's godmother ordering the trousseau, the wedding-breakfast, writing the notes of invitation, for instance,' said Mr. Lennox, laughing.

'But are all these quite necessary troubles?' asked Margaret, looking up straight at him for an answer. A sense of indescribable weariness of all the arrangements for a pretty effect, in which Edith had been busied as supreme authority for the last six weeks, oppressed her just now; and she really wanted some one to help her to a few pleasant, quiet ideas connected with a marriage.

'Oh, of course,' he replied with a change to gravity in his tone. 'There are forms and ceremonies to be gone through, not so much to satisfy oneself, as to stop the world's mouth, without which stoppage there would be very little satisfaction in life. But how would you have a wedding arranged?'

'Oh, I have never thought much about it; only I should like it to be a very fine summer morning; and I should like to walk to church through the shade of trees; and not to have so many bridesmaids, and to have no wedding-breakfast. I dare say I am resolving against the very things that have given me the most trouble just now.'

'No, I don't think you are. The idea of stately simplicity accords well with your character.'


Excerpted from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Copyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810 - 65) was born in London, but grew up in the north of England in the village of Knutsford. In 1832 she married the Rev. William Gaskell and had four daughters, and one son who died in infancy. Her first novel, Mary Barton, was published in 1848 and won the attention of Charles Dickens and most of her later work was publish in his journals. She was also a lifelong friend of Charlotte Bronte, whose biography she wrote, as well as her many novels and short stories.
Patricia Ingham is Senior Research Fellow and Reader at St Anne's College, Oxford. She has written on the Victorian novel and on Hardy in particular. she is the General Editor of all Hardy's fiction in the Penguin Classics and has edited Gaskell's North and South for the series.

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North and South 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 236 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first saw the BBC miniseries about 18 months ago. I was enthralled. The story has many similarities to the beloved Pride and Predjudice, but the setting and scope of the story are much deeper. The story is primarily set in the two different worlds in Victorian England. Gently born and raised Margaret is pulled away from the genteel life she is accustomed to in the South of England, to live in a northern manufacturing town. The two very differing climates are metaphors for the experiences and people by whom she is surrounded. Her own predjudices are tested along a personal journey that opens her heart and mind. Themes of devotion and love are timeless. The more weighty issues of poverty, fair business practices and moral duty are also timeless. In our age of greed, a lot could be gained by reading some of the Victorians like Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens. This book may not be an easy read to everyone. But if you've read Austen and/or Dickens, it is an enjoyable book. This reader loves history and also loves good romance. I read the final chapter three times because I found it so deeply satisfying. If you have seen the BBC adaptation, you'll find that it's not entirely true to the book. However, I found them to have the same soul and spirit. North and South is now part of my permanent collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw BBC's movie production of North and South first and then decided I had to read the novel by Elizabeth Gaskel. I was not dissapointed. If anything it will enhance the movie experience because it gives you more details/information about the characters, their actions and events that take place in the novel. This story tells of the hardships that people faced on a daily basis. The love story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale is especially touching because they both had to overcome prejudices 'on her part' and missunderstandings 'on his part'. What a wonderful novel. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who has already seen the movie. I have to admit both the movie and the novel of North and South surpasses all versions of Pride and Prejudice.
Libejin More than 1 year ago
I recommend it to everyone who likes Victorian era classics, romance, and good historical imagery. I read North and South the first time during my first semester of grad school in 2008 after watching the BBC version on DVD. So I got to compare the endings and read the commentary & footnotes, & etc. I liked the book version better than the DVD, except for the ending and watching Richard Armitage play John Thornton. After re-watching the DVD a few times over 3-1/2 years I bought N&S for my Nook and re-read it with fresh perspective this month (June 2012), and love the book even more than the first time I read it. I understand the ending much better because I get the spirit of the message Gaskell meant for us to come away with. The dvd ending (on the train) gives us a metaphorical visual of what E. Gaskell would have written if she'd been given 21st Century freedom at the time of the Victorian periodical. I am in love with her John Thornton (again).
Belinda_Kroll More than 1 year ago
I never thought it possible, but this book supplanted Pride and Prejudice as my favorite romance, reasons being that it brings outside philosophical, political, and economic pressures into the romance. The romance is not just that there are misunderstandings and ruined reputations, but that there are actual lives at stake; entire towns that could fall if the mill workers refuse to work; people could be killed in riots; there is communal strife and an inability to communicate between the social classes. This is an ambitious work that I am head over heels in love with because the prose is poetic, the themes are strong, and the characters sympathetic. Gaskell gives the secondary and tertiary characters all the love, compassion, and motive that is usually reserved for main characters alone. I could go into a detailed analysis of the writing tricks Gaskell uses to appeal to her audience (the sympathetic Victorian woman), such as describing the illnesses of those around Margaret, the way Margaret's eyes sometimes exhibit a childlike wonder or surprised pain, and the way Margaret shoulders the problems of those around her for that is her role as the daughter in the family (really, this is a brilliant piece of Victorian literature), but I won't. I will tell you that if you like reading classics (my childhood was defined by classics, and I desperately miss the feeling of losing myself in that world), you must read this book. If your writing tends toward the classical style, this is a great example to take note of. There are moments when Margaret almost reminds me of Jane Eyre in her contemplations of her role as a female in the world, which makes sense because Mrs Gaskell was actually a sort of social friend of Charlotte Bronte's. In fact, Mrs Gaskell wrote the first biography of Charlotte, and helped create the rather mythological story behind the woman who wrote such great works as Jane Eyre and Villette. P.S. The BBC made a two-part miniseries of this book in 2007, and it is excellent. Things have been changed, obviously, to fit the book into a four-hour showing, but it is a great adaptation and the reason why I read the book in the first place. * Review originally posted at my blog, Worderella Writes: http://worderella.com/2008/02/book-north-and-south/ *
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has become one of my favorites. It's up there with Pride and Prejudice. The guy is a true hero in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, like others of this era, takes a little bit to get into, but once in it, I love it! Lots of meat, i.e. at least 2-3 different stories going on that have substance to them.
Aglaia More than 1 year ago
I first saw the BBC movie and I read the book straight away. It is a very well written, enjoyable novel set in Victorian times and through the main protagonists it introduces us to the divide between the industrial north and the more gentlemanly, leisurely south and how different the outlook, temperament and lifestyle of the people from each place is. I truly enjoyed the book. People often compare it to Pride and Prejudice - I would not go that far, but the love story is compelling and the author`s social awareness and sensitivity, her portrayal of the industrial revolution and its effects on people is magnificent and very real. I liked the main characters very much. Recommended.
writersdd More than 1 year ago
North and South always delights the reader with a glimpse into the north of England during the Industrial Revolution. The characters show the stereotypes of the day: the North was thought to be always busy, always working, always thinking of money; while the South was thought to be more relaxed and sedate. The resolution is very satisfying for the romantic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this after having watched the BBC miniseries. I love them both.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After a friend gave me Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, I picked it up and started reading, intrigued. I was shocked at how quickly I was pulled into the storyline for a book written so long ago, and pleased with the incredible characters and plot. This is a great book and great love story to boot, and I highly recommend reading North and South. It's a great read, and courageous, plucky, tender-hearted Margaret Hale will live on in my mind as a great heroine for a fantastic book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This copy is relatively free of errors and the story is delightful. If you are a fan of jane austen you must read this book and you wnt be sorry!
MsMe11 More than 1 year ago
The best book,great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Timeless classic !
Beautiful_Mermaid More than 1 year ago
If you're a fan of Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre you are definitely going to love this book. Mr. Thornton is this proud man but deep down he is so lovable, you will want marry this character. Love Elizabeth Gaskell, one of my favorite times in England.
bars14 More than 1 year ago
Set in 19th century Victorian England, this book is a remarkable one. Mrs. Gaskell shows the contrast between the gentrified south and industrializing north in the guise of a romance. It is also a social commentary on the life and times of the rapidly industrializing north. Along with Middlemarch by George Eliot, this book is my absolute favorite.
Juli_licious More than 1 year ago
I first saw the BBC mini series and decided to read the book. I, absolutely, loved this book, even after trying to decipher the language of the Milton locals. Mr. Thornton is a favorite now, right alongside Mr. Darcy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely the best by Elizabeth Gaskell. BBC made a great movie of it as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was like reading Jane Austen for me. A great sweeping story. The e book has many errors in it though, which is annoying. The page numbering is way off, too. It says there are 1300 pages but dont get worried-it is only around 400. The pages skip two at a time or more. This story gives a great picture of Industrial Revolution in England and class struggle. You dont want to miss the romance in this, either. Worth the wait. You will see what i mean. Read it for sure and watch bbc miniseries too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my fav book! North and South is great. A good book for the nook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Par1949 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this romantic novel down!! Ms. Gaskell did an outstanding job transporting ones back to a time where it took a man of strong character to eek out a living for his family and keep his dignity and humility in the industrial north of England. The strong love and determination of Mr. Thorton to win the heart of the woman he loved, Miss Hale, will be an inspiration to ones who read this novel!! This novel is a must read for all us "romantics" who desire to be transported to to a time where love between a man and a women is spell-binding!
Melanie Davis More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. It shows the difference of classes and regions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put it down, after reading this I watched the BBC movie.. it too was equally wonderful!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 'North and South', Elizabeth Gaskell effectively analyzes and dissects Victorian era social norms. The novel's protagonist, Margaret Hale, is an independant-minded woman who is not afraid to speak her mind or take charge of a given situation. Her story is one of self-discovery, as she comes to face great hardship in the city of Milton (Manchester) and learns to empathize with the plight of the less fortunate. Gaskell paints a huge canvass of characters from all different social backgrounds: the poor, factory workers, the middle class, the educated, capitalists, and manufacterers. Margaret Hale makes a good protagonist because she serves as a sort of middle-ground character: an outsider who is able to befriend both the rich and the poor. The novel serves as a commentary on the class struggle and social unrest of mid-nineteenth century Britain. It deals with the motivations behind these problems and seeks to reconcile them. I found the novel to be a fascinating character study and a complex look at how the Industrial Revolution affected British society. The story drags, however, in some parts and becomes rather contrived near the end. Like all Victorian novels, 'North and South', is long and sentimental. Still, if you're interested in British literature, 'North and South' is worth checking out. Elizabeth Gaskell deserves more attention for her body of work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy other 19th century authors, such as Austin, Dickens, or Trollope, you will enjoy this story. It shows a grittier side of the realities of the upper class and the laboring class, but with optimism.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago