March 27, 2012

North and South - this time it's the book

I finished North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell some time ago, but I wasn't sure what to write about it, or even whether to write about it, because I liked the miniseries better.  It's a fairly rare occurrence when I like the television or movie adaptation better than the source material.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, North and South is about a young woman who is forced to move from the agrarian south of England to an industrial town in the north.  The book concerns her trouble acclimating to her new home, her friendship with the mill workers, and her turbulent relationship with one of the mill owners.

I think the main character, Margaret Hale, is much more likable in the miniseries.  She was more of a downright snob in the book.  The miniseries gives us a new scene at her first meeting with the love interest, John Thornton, which explains her instant disdain for him.  In the book, it's pretty much entirely because she is a snob looking down on someone who works in trade and who isn't a "gentleman" in her sense of the word. In this regard, it makes the reader have less respect for John Thornton.  It takes away from the character for him to continue to be madly in love with someone who repeatedly treats him with contempt and indifference.  I kept wondering why he cared about her at all. 

Margaret's time in Milton changes her, and she becomes less arrogant.  The book improves as this happens.  She didn't have quite the same snob hurdle to overcome in the miniseries.  This is not to say I didn't like the novel.  I thought it was okay.  I suppose the book fell short of what I had expected.

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