Friday, January 14, 2011

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell


This was my first Gaskell novel, and I have to say, I enjoyed it. She doesn't have as light a hand as Austen, and the writing lacks the humor that defines Austen's most appealing reads, but it's still an excellent book. Then again, I tend to have a bit of a weakness for strong female characters and male leads who impress with their integrity and good character.

Gaskell's focus on social and economic issues of the day keeps her from merely being Austen-lite. In this particular work, she touches on the industrial revolution, the social prejudice against trade, unions and other labor issues, and religion and conscience. Her writing is thus likely more significant than Austen's--Austen's stories are only ever about the people in them, not about the surrounding world--but I confess I can't help liking Austen more.

NOTE: The BBC version is quite good, and goes well with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and the company of a few female friends.

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