Anyone that's read my interviews, or really knows anything about me, will know how much I adore North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I mean, really, my obsession with the story is sometimes life-consuming. I have to warn family and friends when I'm about to read it again as they will effectively lose me for at least 48 hours afterwards as I spend my days dreaming of Mr Thornton.
So anyway, I get asked to review a lot of books and I wish, wish, wish I had the time to but I just don't. However, when the opportunity to review Margaret of the North, a sequel to North and South, came up, I jumped at it. Quite literally. In fact I'm fairly sure my email came across as a begging letter!
When I wrote the review, I wrote it with the BBC series in mind, purely because E Journey stared the story from the beautiful 'train kiss' scene. This is a hotly debated scene in the North and South fan world but personally I adore it. And E actually addresses the idea that it is not socially acceptable to be kissing a man in public by allowing us to see inside of Margaret's head afterwards.
So with this in mind after I expected them to be a more fiery couple, much like in the series and I comment on this in my review. E later explained that she when she wrote Margaret of the North, she intended for the character's to be more in line with the original book. With this in mind, I would have to say that E did a wonderful job. Do I still enjoy conflict? Yes! But what E conjures up here, is a wonderful, romantic tale of genuine Victorian life.
Anyway here is my review is as on Goodreads and Amazon.
The first thing that struck me was the intense passion that continued between John and Margaret. E Journey carried on the idea of small touches and shared looks that play so prominently between the two characters. These little moments served to create a lovely, palpable air between them, particularly leading up to their wedding.
I was also grateful for the continued tensions between Margaret and Mrs Thornton. A few sequels I've read tend to gloss over the relationship between them when it is clear that it would take an awful lot for these two to ever get on. In other books the character of Mrs Thornton changed dramatically to suit the situation but with this one I found myself reading her dialogue with the actress, Sinead Cusack, in mind.
This book very much focuses on the romance and the development of their lives together. It does not play particularly on the gritty side of life and you won't see much of the workers lives. Although Margaret and John make attempts to improve their lives, Margaret does not come sweeping in and expect everything to be different. Again, other sequels do. I am grateful for this and though I didn't personally miss the conflict between workers and masters, I would imagine that some would.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen more of was some conflict between John and Margaret. There were a few moments when they clashed ever so slightly but it never lasted. These are two strong willed people and I imagine their life would not have run quite so smoothly. The only other comment I have that could be construed as slightly negative was the Americanism 'Gotten' coming up quite a lot. I know E Journey hails from America so I will forgive her for this one! It just happens to be one of my bugbears!
That aside, I really enjoyed the story and it was thoroughly gratifying to see their passion for one another and the ending took me by surprise as it completely changed my feelings for Mrs Thornton! A must read for North and South fans.
Well if you fancy giving it a try, you can find Margaret of the North on Amazon. And I must iterate my thanks to E Journey for allowing me the chance to read her work!