Thursday, November 14, 2013

Classically Good

Lagging behind as usual... I think I promised you I'd have something more accomplished than GH to review soon, and indeed, soon after I wrote my last review I did complete my grand endeavor (ok, ok, not so grand) but then of course life interfered, in the form of an interrupted move.  And today I sit here in Teaneck, waiting for my house to be ready and starting my delayed review of... North and South.  I know, I know, not crazy impressive.  But it it a *little* more intellectual/challenging than GH :) Where do I start? Should it be with my personal history of N&S? Why not? :)

I read Wives and Daughters in high school some time, I liked it.  That was when I used to read lots of classics, some of them on the bleaker side (Bleak House :)), so W&D was almost a treat in its treatment of middle class society and young couples in love.  I didn't read any more of Elizabeth Gaskell's books at the time, I thought W&D was by far her most prominent (I guess it is that).  So much for that. Fast forward a few years, to the beginning of youtube fandom, when I watched a video entitled... well entitled something.  It was fun :) (I can't find it anymore, it was a montage of period heroes).  There were a few I didn't recognize, including one that was identified as Richard Armitage in North and South.  Richard Armitage? Waaaah?? Isn't he like an ambassador or something? Why yes he is... because there are two Richard Armitages :) The ambassador (we don't like him) and the actor - we HEART him.  He was one of my major celebrity crushes, I watched everything I could find with him online.  Anyways... jumping ahead of ourselves.  I looked him up and I looked North and South up.  I was intrigued, no doubt about it.  I made a deal with myself I wouldn't watch the movie till I read the book... so of course I lost no time in reading the book :) (I think I ordered it online).  I enjoyed the movie in its own time, but it's the book I'm here to talk about.

And I enjoyed that too.  The first time I read it, the second time, and now, the third time (I think it's the third time). It's a serious book, even the romance is intense, and the romance is only a small part of a story that's more about class tensions in the early Victorian era.  Sounds appealing, right? But the romance is *excellent*, excellent I say.  Good amount of pathos, nice amount of suspense, denouement not terribly anti-climatic.  (Well the romance aspect of it isn't, the rest is actually quite anti-climatic, I think her editor told her to end it already or something - jumping ahead of myself again).

But what's interesting is that, despite the comparative dearth of romance, I very much enjoyed the entire book.  Thornton and Margaret are both strong, and mostly very likeable (the very is more him and than her) and their story is interesting because it's about them.  I can't say I'm very interesting in the struggles of the industrial revolution but this book makes me care.  It even makes me think a little bit.  But mostly, it entertains :) That's quite a compliment for a book with a painting of something other than people on the cover :)

Bottom line, I liked this book.  It's obviously well-written, it's entertaining, it's romantic, and it's a good story.  Yay for books like this :)

Verdict: 5/5

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