January 13, 2015

North and South Read-Along Part 1

North and South Read Along

So yeah. I'm WAY behind on getting this post up. We had an awesome twitter chat on Saturday and I really should have had this post up then. Alas.... :/ But! I have it now! Better late than never, right? (I hope? ;)

Anyhoo. As I said, we had an awesome twitter chat and I admit that I was reading through chapter 18 clear up until the very last possible minute. (Clearly I'm a procrastinator.) And gracious did that hour fly by fast! I was clicking tweets all over the place and having a wonderful time. Thanks to Jenni for hosting! And for these great questions. Also! If you've a mind to, start reading the book and join us next time. I promise all the ladies are fabulous and nice and you're guaranteed a great time. So come on over to Victorian England, it's the place to be this month! ;)

Is this your first time reading this? If so, what do you think so far? If not, are you liking this reread so far?

Not really. I've not ever properly read the entire story word for word, but I have skimmed through and read quite a lot of it. So I was due to read the whole thing. And yes! I am enjoying it so far. It helps my enthusiasm, I think, to know that there are others reading at the same time and that we'll get to chat about it again soon. :)

Have you seen the BBC mini-series? Is the book anything like you expected it to be?

Okay, anybody who regularly reads my posts knows the answer to this one! ;) The miniseries is by far my favorite show/movie/whatever you want to call it. I have watched it so many times that I cannot possibly count them all. And since I've skimmed through the book before, I knew about what to expect. But it has been fun to see the differences and where they changed scenes from the book for the miniseries.

Why do you think Margaret refused Henry? He seems like such a nice chap.

He does seem like a nice chap! But I don't think he inspired any passion or "depth of feeling" in her. It's pretty clear from her thoughts that every time she was in conversation with Henry, she never once thought romantic thoughts about him. Even though he was pretty obvious a couple times. I think she's young enough and not experienced enough yet that she simply didn't recognize what was actually happening in those conversations? Especially the one at Edith's wedding.

What are your first impressions of Mr. Thornton?

He's very gentlemanly and nice. Right from the beginning, no matter how Margaret frustrated him with her attitude, he still did all he could to make the Hale's transition to Crampton as easy and comforting as possible. Alyssa mentioned the fact that he got the wallpaper changed for them, which he didn't have to do at all. He notices so many little details about Margaret (which I love!) and that one small comment she said about the wallpaper stayed with him and he did something about it. Plus he clearly cares very much for his mother. They're relationship is so solid and warm. And he's so respectful to everyone. He treats everyone fairly.

Why is Margaret so indifferent to Mr. Thornton, but she can make friends with the Higgins? They are both northern people and have different customs.

I think he's just so different than she's expecting. The men she's had contact with up to this point have been ones who understood their position and the right things to say and the right things to do. Not that Mr. Thornton doesn't! But he's just a little more rough around the edges. And she expects Higgins to be that way from first meeting, so he makes sense to her, therefore she's more comfortable around him. But Thornton is a different story. Plus I wonder if she's not already feeling a slight attraction and doesn't really understand it or know what to do with it, so it comes out antagonistically. If that makes sense?

Compare the two moms we’ve seen in the story.

Well, so far Mrs. Hale is very frustrating to me. While I can sympathize with her sickness, whatever it may be, I don't like that she's not really a mother to Margaret. I don't think she's a bad person, I just think she's allowed her sadness and regret to turn into bitterness and it's kind of all I can see whenever she's in the scene.

Mrs. Thornton on the other hand, absolutely dotes on her son. I do enjoy watching the two of them together, they have a wonderful relationship. But she's far from perfect. Her love for her son and her pride at all that he's raised them to has blinded her to being able to truly see him objectively. And she could certainly learn to have a little more gentleness with other people. Plus (and this gets more clear the further in the story we go) I think she's so enamored of her son that she's kind of neglected her daughter slightly.

What differences are you seeing so far between the north and the south?

The south is much more relaxed and even-keeled and the north is fast-paced and constantly moving. Basically the country vs. the city. The city has lots more people in a small space, so it's much more obvious in being able to see the differences between the rich and the poor.

Do you think Mr. Hale was justified in leaving the church and his position?

Yes, because he clearly was unable to live with his present circumstances. He chose to stick to his standards, even though he knew it would be difficult.

What are your feelings on Frederick’s situation?

It's very sad. He can never see his family again or they him. And they all miss him so very much! I can't imagine having to go through that.

What are your thoughts on the master and worker relationship?

It's intriguing! It's one of the aspects that I really enjoy about this story. And I love that we are privy to both sides, so I tend to sympathize with both. Neither side makes all the right choices though and I wish they had a better understanding of one another. (Communication, people! ;) Watching the push and pull between them is fascinating, they all need each other really. The mills couldn't operate without workers and the workers need somewhere to make money so they can live. Finding a balance isn't easy. It also resonates because these are things that we still deal with today. Humans haven't changed much over the years!



20 comments:

  1. When this post popped up in my Feedly, I got so excited! :D It's been fun re-reading North and South so far and I find myself noticing things that I had not noticed the first time I read it. (I guess it's really good to go back and visit favorites every now and then.)

    I was struck with a question here--about why Margaret is able to make friends with Nicholas Higgins, but not with Mr. Thornton. There are some things Mr. Higgins says that shock her or that she does not agree with, but never was it mentioned her getting irritated or annoyed with him, as compared to Mr. Thornton where we read about her disliking what he is saying. (Yet at the same time, she notices and likes his smile, so yay!) I was thinking that maybe the circumstances that brought them together brought out a somewhat negative impression of the North in the person of Mr. Thornton. She had just come out of the South and was without a doubt missing it terribly, and they had been looking for houses the whole day and she was looking forward to luncheon only to find that she could not order it yet, as they had a visitor. Perhaps the fatigue, the stress of packing and the traveling distance all contributed to paint Mr. Thornton in a way that made her feel nothing but cordiality towards him at the first meeting.
    (I'm not actually sure I'm making sense here. :P)

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    1. I have absolutely been loving all the details we get, Alyssa. So much time spent in Thornton's head! And her noticing his smile? I love all the details they both notice about the other. So unconsciously. I think I said that on twitter, but it bears repeating. In the beginning chapters, they notice so many things about each other, but very unknowingly. Like they couldn't help but notice them. I love it!

      Actually you make a lot of sense. I think you may be right. When you're tired and stressed, you aren't able to see things clearly. It's much easier to make quick judgments and the like. Which is exactly what Margaret did. And she just never tried to see beyond her initial impression. At least not for a great while. Silly Margaret! If only she'd realize what an amazing man is giving her such attention! ;)

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    2. I absolutely agree! Funny that I never noticed--at least, not that much when I first read the book--Thornton's thoughts and feelings. And now, as we're doing this read along, I see them so much clearer and "feel" them all the more.

      I love those parts too, where they observe to themselves so much about the other, you're right!--quite unconsciously too. They aren't aware of how much they know about each other, about the details that they have gathered by just watching the other person.

      Ah well, I think the part where Mr. Thornton lies to cover Margaret's lies seals it all off for Margaret. Everything she has been observing about him--his bringing fruit to her mother, his kind, patient attention to her father--is totally different from her first impression of him. And now, this part, where he lies to save her without knowing what he is saving her from, oh la la! <3

      I certainly hope there will be more read alongs for various classics in the future!

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    3. As I read the second and final portions of the book, I loved watching both Margaret and Thornton become aware of their feelings. Well, I suppose Margaret has much more noticing to realize, Thornton pretty much figures it out with the riot scene and never looks back! Much to my pleasure. ;) Margaret's growth and awareness is much more slow and subtle, but I just loved reading about it. She's so young and naïve when it comes to understanding herself, even though she did have to grow up quick on account of her parents pretty much letting her fend for herself. (That still irritates me.) But as she grows aware of her feelings.....I don't know, I just enjoyed that part a lot. And feeling everything with both of them! I think having the chance to be inside both of their minds definitely helps with the "feelings" that I get from reading. So I understand exactly what you're saying!

      Yes! I think Thornton's lie on her behalf forces her to finally face some things that she'd been denying and ignoring. And she can't ignore them anymore! And Thornton? His love is just so constant and true. He thinks she's "ruined" herself, but is still unable to see anything bad happen to her. That's true love right there! *dreamy sigh*

      Oh, I do too! Having a deadline and knowing other people are waiting for me to finish makes me sit down and read (which I need sometimes, I admit). Plus it helps me to understand these classics and some of the culture stuff that I may not understand otherwise. I love having other readers to ask about these things! Or just simply gush over the sweetness. I love that too! :D

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    4. Ohhh, talking about North and South just makes me so giddy. Glad we can swoon and gush all we can, especially during the Twitter chats with the #NorthSouthRAL group.

      It IS wonderful reading how Margaret becomes aware of her feelings. I can't remember having read--during my first time reading the book--how Margaret finally admits to herself that she DOES have feeling for Mr. Thornton, but does not have much hope that anything will come out of it. I love how she gets upset when anyone speaks negatively about Milton, yet at the same time, blushing because those were the very things she herself said when she first came to Milton.

      And Thornton. Oh my, Mr. John Thornton! You are right--his love is so constant and true. I love reading how tortured he feels. He loves her, but cannot bear to see her, knowing that she does not care for him. In fact, if I remember correctly, there is a point when he tells her that he does not care for her (or at least, that is how I interpreted it to be) after he goes and hires Higgins.

      I could go on an on talking about North and South and observing the characters and their feelings and thoughts. I'm really, really glad we had this read along and I hope there will be more read alongs in the future.

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    5. It does me too, Alyssa! This story is simply awesome. SO many different things going on, which means so many different things to gush about! :D

      I know! The moments she hears her own words about Milton and Mr. Thornton come out of someone else's mouth and consequently how embarrassed she feels are so great! I think part of the reason they struck me while reading is because that's exactly how I do sometimes. How we all do. We say and think one thing and then our opinion changes (we may not even realize it's changing) and when someone else says the same as we did, we realize exactly how presumptuous/condescending/ridiculous we sounded. It made her feel real to me, I think. And I just love at the end, when she realizes he still loves her and she finally gets the chance to tease him a little and just be herself with him, how relaxed she gets and how much she enjoys that moment. And I enjoy that moment too! I just wish that final chapter were three or four pages longer. *dreamy sigh*

      Oh yeah! He's terribly mean to her right then and she's understandably sad when he says it. But we know what he's really thinking and how inside he's not at all over her and yeah. He shows a good front but he's so broken up inside over her! And I love it! That sounds terrible, I know. I don't wish him to be sad, but I DO love how he continues to love her regardless. There's a moment, I forget where, when he tells himself that he's just going to have these feelings anyway, and she can't tell him not to, no one can tell him not to. Or something like that. But it just gets me in the feels every time I read it! Because in spite of the hurt and pain he's feeling, he decides to love her anyway. And he never deviates from it, no matter what he may tell her. SUCH a romantic gentleman!

      Clearly I could go on talking and gushing about this story too! This has been so awesome. Definitely one of the best decisions I've made in a while! :D

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    6. Yes, so much to gush over! (I should e-mail you so we can gush over the many things we have in common, like Anne of Green Gables and Persuasion. :D)

      You're right that it is what we do as well--what Margaret did of Mr. Thornton and people of Milton. We have our own opinion of others before we get to really know them or what it is that they're going through, and when our opinions change, and we hear someone say what we used to say, it is so humbling.

      I love the last part as well, and like you, and no doubt many others, I wish there a few more pages in the closing chapter. I would have liked to hear them tease each other more, and I would have liked to read a nice little epilogue about them. I mean, I have so many questions. I assume they both went to Milton and lived there. But where did they live? In the mills? In the same house as Mrs. Thornton? What did Edith and Aunt Shaw say? How about Higgins? Well, even then, I guess we can just imagine away what happened as the book leaves us with "so much scope for imagination."

      Another thing I liked reading in the book is how Margaret kept telling him--or hinting--that he was not a gentleman in his rough, Milton manners, but how Mr. Thornton proved her wrong by visiting her mother when Mrs. Hale was ill, how he kept her secret without knowing why, and how he did all that even while knowing his love might be never reciprocated. Gaaahhh, so much feels!

      Yes, I'm so glad we had this read along and I'm looking forward to having the next (even if it's just a mini read-along/Twitter chat discussion about Persuasion and For Darkness Shows the Stars). :)

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    7. We do tend to have several things in common to gush over! And I love it. :D

      It's so interesting to try and imagine what happens after the book ends, isn't it? I'm with you, I wonder what Mrs. Thornton has to say. And Edith and Aunt Shaw? And definitely Higgins! I bet he said "I knew it!" Because he definitely knew that Thornton loved Margaret and I bet he figured out how Margaret felt as well. He's a pretty smart cookie! These kind of thoughts are one reason why I enjoy fanfiction type stories. I've read one based on N&S and there's a couple others on my radar.

      Oh yes! And I don't think he did those things just to prove to her how gentlemanly he was. It was more that he knew what he needed to do, what was proper yes, but also just good and decent behavior, and did it. At least the parts where he cared for her mother. And now that I think on it, I'm not completely certain that his protecting her (regarding her lie) was really so much about her (although I still believe she was the biggest reason). But maybe more about his own feelings and how he wanted to protect his own heart? I don't know if that makes sense or not....

      I can't wait to hear what you think about FDStS!!!! I have feels about both of those books actually. It's a wonderful thing to be "forced" to reread them! ;P

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    8. I love it too!

      I think Higgins knew it. The book narrates that, when he stopped Mr. Thornton on the street and inquired about "Ms. Hale", the storm cloud on Mr. Thornton's furrowed brow was chased away, confirming a suspicion of his. Bless his dear old heart for telling Thornton that the man Margaret was seen with was her brother! I haven't really read any fanfiction type of stories, probably because they tend to be rather different from the book in how the characters behave (or how I want them to behave, haha!). But after reading FDStS, I'm tempted to change my mind. I think it might be that I haven't found the best fanfictions out there yet for some of the books.

      Oh, indeed! I think he did those things simply because it was a well-mannered thing to do, not because he wanted to prove to Margaret that he was a gentleman, or because he loved her. I think he cared for the Hales in general. Yes, I get what you're saying and I think it makes sense. I think he's still "heartbroken". I recall him musing more than once that he would not think about it or wonder further so as to get her out of his mind.

      I will e-mail you about FDStS! And I will say all my feels for both that book and Persuasion. :D

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    9. Yay for Higgins! A great catalyst for our forlorn lovers. Bless his dear old heart indeed! ;)

      I understand completely. Sequels and reimaginings aren't for everyone. And there are definitely some that are way better than others! Some writers actually do a very good job of staying true to the time period and style of writing of the original author. And FDStS is definitely one of the best! Ms. Peterfreund excellently stays true to the original all while making it her own. Can't to read your email and hear what you thought! :D

      I agree. He cared for the Hales in general, not just Margaret. I did love how he and Mr. Hale had these great debates and conversations. I think they were good friends as well. And yes! He's definitely still heartbroken. Enough that to have let her reputation suffer would have made it worse for him. Which is just really lovely, when you think on it. It proves exactly how deep his affections truly were.

      I love these convos! Have I mentioned that? ;)

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  2. I enjoyed your insightful comments. And, yes, communication, please(!), dear world. Thanks.

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  3. I love your insights. Thanks for answering the questions. No need to be sorry about getting them up late. I just got mine up too, lol, and I'm a host. ;)

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    1. That is very reassuring! Thanks, Jenni. :)

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  4. I forgot you were doing this, but fun! A friend and I have been reading this book veeeerrrryyy sloooowwwwlllyyy for over a year, and at some point I plan to post our conversations Two Guys Read Jane Austen style. But it might be a while yet. Meanwhile, I'll have fun reading your commentary. :)

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    1. Ooooo! And now I'm very intrigued for your post! :)

      This has been such a fun thing. I haven't ever participated in a read-along before, but I love it! Having other people to overanalyze Mr. Thornton with? Awesomeness indeed! ;) Plus I've really been enjoying all the details that we don't get in the miniseries. Being inside Mr. Thornton's head is the best ever!

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    2. It should be fun! Don't get too excited, though, since it's still a ways off. I never seem to be able to finish anything fast enough to participate in a read-along. That would have to be all I'm reading at the time, I guess, so maybe the next time I move and am in-between book groups? And I completely agree, Thornton is amazing!

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    3. I shall look forward to it anyway! Even if I do have to wait a really long time. :)

      As for read-alongs, this one has forced me to read the book. I committed and I want to participate in the discussions and the twitter chats, so I made myself sit down and finish it. Which, for books like this where I'm not breathlessly skipping pages, is exactly what I need to keep me going! So that's been a good thing.

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  5. If you're late posting, I'm waaaaay late visiting!!! I heart your answers. I really like that you pointed out Mr. Thornton is not what Margaret expects a man of his station to be, so she is indifferent in this portion of the book. That explains it so clearly! He is unique in that he converses and tries to identify with people from every station in life (a plus for his likable-ness), unlike the people Margaret is used to meeting.

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    1. I'm so glad you visited, Courtney! I heart your comments! :)

      That's it exactly! I'm so glad my answer made sense. He is very unique in how he converses with and treats everyone around him. Which is awesome! Margaret just takes a while to understand him. But she does eventually see how amazing that makes him. Thank goodness! ;)

      I think that's also one reason why Mr. Thornton and Higgens are able to find their way to understanding and respecting each other. Because if Mr. Thornton were like everyone else around him, he and Higgens would never have been able to come around. So there's another reason why I love him so much!

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Thank you so much for visiting! I love comments and try to respond to each one. (Please comment!) Have a splendiferously awesome day and y'all come back anytime! :)

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