North & South: Discussion Post #1

Well. Like my co-host, I’m also behind. I’m at chapter 7. North and South and I…we’re not getting along so well. I am blaming this mostly on the massive push I put on last week to finish The Stand. I tweeted one day that following The Stand with North and South caused a bit of culture shock. Okay, a LOT of culture shock. I decided to read the audio, mainly because I have the ebook and I was also reading The Stand as an ebook, and because the woman reading the book has the loveliest voice ever-Juliet Stevenson. This may backfire on me however, because her lovely voice causes me to 1) zone out and 2) fall asleep. This makes driving difficult!

Anyhoo, I’m here to tell you what I think of the first section.

Here are the questions for today:

1. How are you liking the book?

2. What is up with Margaret’s father? Begin Heather’s diatribe here: Is it just me, or is he one of the most self-centered characters ever? He inflicts all this pain and confusion the women of his family, then can’t bare to hear them in distress. Good grief man, grow a few. (Feel free to leave that last part out, or rewrite it. I just had to get that out.) < --Andi chose to leave it because it's a peek "behind-the-scenes" at what our e-mails usually look like. Ha! 3. What do you think of Thornton and his first impression of Margaret? 4. Feel free to ramble from here on and add your own link to the Mr. Linky… (Visit Andi's blog to do that.) Since Andi posted all that I wrote for my second question and it's the one I feel the most like ranting about (look out world, I'm in an especially ranty mood today!) I'm starting there. What the heck is up with Pa Hale? You what to know what bugs me the most about him? I can totally understand his desire to stop being a pastor if he didn’t believe in the church any more, even if he still had his faith. I can understand wanting to move to a mill town, because he knew he could find work there for himself and therefore a way to provide for his family. I can even understand his being upset that he has caused his family such grief. HOWEVER. I cannot stand the way he is constantly “oh I can’t take this,” “I can’t bear to hear anything about your feelings,” “please, let’s not discuss it any more.” OMG MAN. GROW A PAIR and deal with what thou hast wrought. Also, I was surprised by his leaving the church because he didn’t believe in it any more. Was this a controversial thing for the time period? I’m not sure, I never had the opportunity to study this time period in college. By God I wish I had! That would be an exciting class! Anyway, he acts the way I would expect a woman in an Austen book to act; a la Mrs. Bennett. Which, incidentally I wish I had asked this question: How does this compare to Jane Austen? I have heard it said that Gaskell is like Austen and quite frankly, I’m not seeing it. Well, except for, and this leads into question 3 anyway, the instant chemistry (?, don’t know what else to call it) between Thornton and Margaret. It reminded me so much of the way Darcy immediately took a dislike to Elizabeth because of her attitude. But really, that’s it. The writing reminds me more of Dickens. Also, I really hated the way Margaret treated Henry Lennox. Someone really should train her in the art of tact. Although I got the feeling she thought she WAS being tactful. Unfortunately, since I AM behind, I can’t go any further with my discussion. I will catch up this week!

8 thoughts on “North & South: Discussion Post #1

  1. Heck yeah on Mr. Hale. I can't believe he suckered Margaret into telling Mrs. Hale they were moving! And she was all "Oh yes, daddy dear, you shouldn't have to tell mother the bad news." Gah.

  2. Pa Hale is by far the most unlikable character thus far – and that's saying something because I feel like everyone's put their worst foot forward. Gaskell has a definite knack for writing weak-willed men and strong women. It's one of the reasons I like her so much. She's not afraid to make men look silly and humiliate them in front of her readers.

    I also agree that Gaskell has less in common with Austen than she does with Dickens or Bronte. Austen wasn't her contemporary, and while there are shades of P&P in N&S, Bronte's Shirley is a better comparison. I think Gaskell's writing is much more straightforward and far less clever (in a good way) than Austen.

    I hope your opinion of the novel improves as you read on! And I hope that Pa Hale becomes someone we can grow to respect.

  3. Fantabulous post for someone who is 1) behind 2) not so enthused. It CRACKED ME UP that Mr. Hale basically said to Margaret, "I need you to talk to mom because she'll TALK ME OUT OF IT." He's such a spineless little weenie. Yet, his word is still the law. Very unfair times, I tell you. Margaret obviously wears the pants in this household (sad).

    Definitely with you. She's more Dickens than Austen.

  4. Ha–"what he hath wrought" made me laugh outloud. Totally! And I agree about that Margaret isn't exactly tactful. It's like she has the inability to be anything but completely honest, even when honesty might not always be the best policy. I think part of it is her innocence and another part a strict personal moral code. She doesn't see much in shades of gray, does she? (cannot use that expression now without thinking pornographic thoughts)

  5. Really the only similarity that I see is the Pride and Prejudice thing going on with Thornton and Margaret but I'm hoping that Ms. Margaret will be taken down a peg or two during her stay in Milton. And I'm totally picturing Jim Broadbent as Mr. Hale.

    I'm listening to this one as well and am having to try really hard to maintain focus. I love Stevenson's narration but it is all too easy to zone out and I've done a lot of re-listening and even re-reading on the kindle.

  6. And I'm ahead on the reading and behind on the posting…. will really try to get a post together later this week. I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoy the book. Why have I waited this long to read a Gaskell novel?

  7. I really hated how Margaret treated Henry Lennox's proposal. She was so incredibly rude. It made me dislike her pretty instantly and she isn't back in my favor yet. Like Trish, I'm looking forward to her being brought down a peg or two (hopefully by Mr. Thornton).

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