Oooh, this was so good. I can’t believe I have never read this before! I didn’t even know about it until I saw the BBC series (which I loved).
For those who don’t know the story: Margaret Hale is a young lady who lives in Helstone with her parents. Her father is a Parson and, after a crisis of conscience, leaves the church and moves the family to the northern industrial town of Milton, where Mr. Hale can find work as a private tutor. Mrs. Hale comes from a well-to-do family, and Margaret spends time in London with her aunt and cousins often before going with her parents to Milton. The contrast of the industrial town from their quiet rural living in Helstone is quite abrupt and all three have trouble adjusting to their new town.
Gaskell is a beautiful writer. (Interestingly enough, the version I read was written by ‘Mrs. Gaskell.’) I was a bit wary, after reading the foreword, which states that the novel was originally published in pieces, in a serial. By the time I got a few chapters in I wasn’t even thinking about that. Gaskell will now be up there with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte for me. She does an amazing job of weaving politics, romance, family, and religion into this book. It has a similar view of pride in love as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Margaret and Mr. Thornton get off on just the same wrong foot as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy do in P&P. Yet in other ways the stories are incredibly different.
I look forward to reading more by Mrs. Gaskell!