January 31, 2015

North And South Read-Along Part 3


Well, here we are. The final discussion post. It's over! *sadface* Except not really because we still get to watch and tweet about the miniseries next weekend. Yay! :D I finished the book last week and it was delightful! Now thanks to Suey, I'll get to the final set of questions. So much to talk about!


1.  There's much talk about all the deaths in this book. What are your feelings on that? Do you think they were necessary? Or too much?

It does seem a bit much, but as someone mentioned via twitter, death affects us. It changes us. And no one is exempt from it. All the deaths that Margaret had to deal with changed how she felt about Milton and its people. She'll forever have a connection to the city simply because her mother died there. I think Ms. Gaskell needed a catalyst to wake Margaret up to the fact that life and people are so much more than the boxes we tend to put them in. She certainly had more of a tendency to label people one way without giving them the chance to prove her wrong and each death of a loved one forced her to rely on others around her more and to realize that she had people around her who were so much more than she had thought. And not just Mr. Thornton. I think her view of the Higgenses' changed as well. And even Mrs. Thornton! Her father's death made her take a closer look at what Mrs. Thorton's intentions were in how she approached her for their conversation.

2. Was there anything that happened during this last part that you found surprising or unexpected? Or was everything very predictable?

The cat! Oh my gracious, I had to reread that part again just to make sure I'd read it right. What a way to make sure Margaret stopped having too rosy a view of Helstone! Because that's the only theory I have as to why Ms. Gaskell included that.

3. What are your feelings on the about face Margaret and Mr. Thornton have with regard to their financial status?

I knew it would happen since I've seen the miniseries, but on my first viewing I was quite surprised. I hadn't even imagined such a scenario. But what a great way to force each of them to step in the other's shoes for a while. Plus it reconnects them again, for which I am not complaining at all! :)

4. Do you think Margaret is justified in being so anguished over the lie that she told? Does it mostly have to do with her feelings for Mr. Thornton? Or something else?

I think partly it's a combination. She always strove to be honest in everything she said and did and to say this one (quite huge!) lie was a big deal. But I think Mr. Thorton's corresponding omission of truth to save her was largely her wake up call to seeing exactly how much he had done for her. And was still doing for her. Knowing that she had rejected him, he still saved her. That's pretty significant! I don't think many people would have done that. So mostly, I think it has to do with her feelings.

5. At what moment exactly do you think her feelings for Mr. Thornton completely changed?

I'm not sure it was ever a certain moment. I think it was a gradual change and she "was in the middle before she knew she had begun". :)

6. Discuss the character of Nicholas Higgins. What do you think about the relationship he has with Mr. Thornton? Did he change Mr. Thornton? Did Mr. Thornton change him?

I think the miniseries has caused me to love him a bit more than the book would have had I read it first. Because I think Nicholas is awesome! Now granted, he's pretty rough around the edges and gruff-talking, but his heart is so good. I love that he takes Boucher's children in. And he's got a great head on his shoulders! I think that's what Mr. Thornton didn't realize about him at first. Nicholas has a very good sense of right and wrong. He also understands people really well. For all his rough talk, he sees what Margaret's heart is when she approaches he and Bessy about bringing them flowers when they first meet. And what he wanted to happen with the union was actually pretty smart. He was seeking ways to get masters and millworkers to work with one another. And he's honest and upright in all he does. You always know where you stand with him. Sometimes a little too well! :D But I think that's what Mr. Thornton finally saw and came to appreciate.

Likewise Mr. Thornton gives Nicholas an understanding of what being a master is like. Plus he's just as honest and forthright, so their conversations had to be pretty interesting. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for all their conversations because I gathered that they had a lot! I think ultimately, they both changed each other. And I'd like to think that they became really good friends by the end of the book! :)

7. How does Mr. Thornton's views on the master/worker relationship change? Or. . .did it change? Did your view on this issue change as you experienced this book?

I think it does change. I think, through Nicholas Higgens as well as Margaret, he learns a bit more compassion. He always had more than most masters seemed to which is awesome, but he still had more to learn. And since we got to read both points of view right from the beginning, my opinion never really changed.

8. Do you have a favorite quote from this book? If so, share and let us know why it's your favorite.

I didn't really have one that stood out to me the most.

9. The ending! Are you happy with how things turned out? (Try not to compare with the movie here... that's for a later question!)

I am! I love how everything works out and am very happy that Margaret and Thornton get their happy every after. :)

Although I do admit that I wish it didn't end quite so abruptly. I did some research and it turns out that Charles Dickens was mostly to blame for that. Although Ms. Gaskell did end up adding some chapters when she made it into a book and she still didn't add anything to the very end, so....

But I still would have preferred a bit more cute Margeret and Thornton moments!

10. What aspect of this book would you like to address that we haven't yet talked about? Is there something we've skipped over in our discussions that makes you want to say... "Yeah, but what about....?"  And if you've got nothing there, answer this: Did you like the book? Why or why not?

I did enjoy the book very much! I love all the extra detail that we get about what Mr. Thornton's thinking. That was my very favorite part! :)

BONUS MOVIE QUESTION:
If you've already seen the movie, go ahead... now is your chance to compare the two! If you have yet to see the movie, skip everyone's comments on this part. After we watch the movie on Friday, you can write a post just about this. Because my guess is, you'll probably have some thoughts!

I thought the screenwriters did a pretty great job of staying accurate with the book. Of course, they did change some things, but that's always to be expected. And I definitely prefer the miniseries ending to the book ending! *dreamy sigh* Plus there's just no comparison between reading/imagining and actually seeing Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton!!!! (How soon are we watching it again?? ;)



21 comments:

  1. I have the Norton Critical Edition of North and South, which has a ton of letters in the back between Gaskell and Dickens (and other people)! It's so funny, because they both respected each other so much at the beginning and became so frustrated with each other by the end. Gaskell was pretty unhappy with the book in general, though. I think maybe she just needed time to come back to and edit it. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Hannah! And ooo. I'll have to find me a copy of that edition. Those letters would be awesome to have! As for Dickens and Gaskell, it's just too bad that they ended up that way. Maybe they would have been better off not to work together. But their partnership did result in this book, for which I'm not complaining! :)

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  2. Ohhh I would have loved to read some of the letters between Dickens and Gaskell that Reading in the Dark mentions above!

    Like you I think the cat roasting was designed to show Marg that her beloved south was still prone to old, barbaric superstitious beliefs. It helped to open her eyes to the good and the bad of both regions - she started seeing the north and the south more realistically from this point on.

    As I've said on a couple of other posts, I would have enjoyed seeing Marg ride off into the sunset with her new found financial independence to explore the world and blaze a trail for females everywhere...but I expect too much :-)

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    1. The letters were really interesting, Brona! And that copy is pretty affordable--you should look it up. :) I found collections of all of Gaskell's letters at my local library, too, so you could probably request an interlibrary loan or something to read those if your library doesn't have them.

      I like your idea, but I think it's important in this instance that Margaret and Thornton end up together. It kind of forges this link between the North and the South that really wraps up the book.

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    2. I think those letters would be fabulous to read sometime as well, Brona! I'll have to do as Hannah suggests and go search them out at the library. :)

      And I also must agree with Hannah. As much as I like your idea for Margaret, I'm too much of a romantic to wish anything less than she and Thornton ending up together. After all they'd both been through, it's a lovely final scene with them together! But that's just my opinion. :)

      That's the only reason I could come up with as to why that cat scene is included! It definitely gives Margaret a much different perspective of life in the south. It rips her "rose-colored glasses" right off! But it's still a pretty bizarre thing.

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  3. Love your answers! I have really enjoyed getting to know you this month! I feel like we are kindred spirits. I'm excited that you'll be joining us for the mini series.

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    1. Thanks Kami! I've really enjoyed getting to know you as well! And I CANNOT WAIT to watch the miniseries again! Especially with all of you! :D

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  4. Great answers. The conversations between Higgens and Mr. Thornton would have been pretty interesting to read. Their developing friendship was one of my favorite parts of the book.

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    1. I so agree, Amy. I loved watching Higgens and Mr. Thornton's friendship grow! :)

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  5. Great answer. I especially love what you said about Nicholas, Mr. Thornton, and Margaret's characters. It was very insightful. :)

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    1. Thanks Jenni! I do love these characters a lot. :)

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  6. I love your answers! Thanks for sharing. I especially agree with what you said about gaining Thornton's perspective. It's really a nice change of pace to know what both are thinking!

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    1. Thank you, Sally! And yes, I just loved getting inside Thornton's head! As much as I love the miniseries we can't read his thoughts, we can only look at his handsome face. So I loved reading how he felt and what he was thinking. Not many books do that. :)

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  7. I liked the book too. I liked Margaret better than Mr. Thornton. I wish she had found someone more pleasant to be her Prince Charming. I'm sad the read-a-long is over too. This was a fun group to read with. Maybe they will organize another one. I would love that. Kelley at the road goes ever ever on

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    1. I'm sorry you didn't like Thornton, Kelley. I admit that he's one of my favorite characters. But I can agree that Margaret is wonderful! Watching her grow and change is quite fun.

      This was absolutely a fun group to read with! I hope we can do another one too. That would be amazing! :)

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  8. Very good point that Higgins should probably take some credit for helping Margaret and Mr. Thornton change their point of views, and letting Mr. Thornton know Margaret's heart didn't belong to someone else. I was glad in the series that they cleaned up Higgins' vernacular because I found it very hard to understand in the book.

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    1. Yes! Trying to figure out exactly what Higgins said sometimes was difficult for me as well. Another reason to love the miniseries! :)

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  9. You're so deep! I especially love your explanation for #1. It's so true that each death motivated Margaret to seek someone outside of herself to depend on.

    And I agree, yay for a different miniseries ending (and for Richard Armitage in general)!!!

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    1. Well, I don't know that I would say I'm "deep", it's more that I just love this story to bits and pieces, Courtney! So I have a lot of feels that need sharing. ;D

      But yes, I do think Margaret needed to be forced to seek out others. As another blogger said, I think she was quite lonely. She did have her small circle of people, but most of them died, so she had to find others. Thankfully Mr. Thornton was one of those!

      Amen and amen to that! Richard Armitage for the win!!!!! ;)

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  10. Did you know they're doing a web-series treatment of North and South? It's called East & West and you can find it on YouTube. It's only 6 episodes in, but I really like it so far. Might be good for your after-book sadness!

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    1. I didn't actually. But thanks for sharing, Birdie! I'll check it out. Could definitely use a pick me up from my after-book sadness! :D

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