Monday, January 30, 2012

January Book: North and South

My book for January was North and South by Elizabeth Gaskill. My plan is to document my thoughts on each of the books on my book list mostly to help me but hopefully to benefit those out there who are interested.

It is extremely rare to discover a movie that is better than the book it is based on.  I am still unsure whether this is the case with North and South. It probably doesn't help that I saw the movie first (and loved it) before I ever read the book. Needless to say as I was reading the descriptions of Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton I could not escape the images already deeply rooted in my mind from the BBC drama. The book definitely offers a deeper look into the thoughts of each character. Most of the time that is what makes the book so much more gripping than the movie but in this case it almost served to eliminate the mysterious persona of Mr. Thornton that is captured so well in the movie.
The only weakness I saw in the book was the fact that Mr. Thornton seemed to have thoughts that did not seem necessarily male. I've never lived in a man's mind but it seems that no matter how much a man is in love with a woman he is usually able to focus on his work and not obsess about her lovely eyes or delicate mouth or things along those lines.  The strength of a man is his ability to compartmentalize and focus on one thing at a time (something not as easy for a woman). In this I felt the author was unable to really portray the differences between how a man handles love and a woman.
Margaret, on the other hand, was mostly clueless as to her effect on the opposite gender and often found herself in very awkward situations.  These situations were mostly believable but at times I found myself wondering if she really could be that unaware of what other people might be thinking.
However, the strengths of the book are many. It has some Charles Dickens elements which I enjoyed very much. The setting is fascinating and it is hard to put it down once you are gripped by the story.  There are intricacies that are so often lost in today's novel. As I was nearing the end I found myself wanting to story to continue indefinitely. I am eager to watch the BBC drama again now that I have read the book and would highly recommend both.


jojo said...

Loved this movie, too! Hmmm...have you seen Downton Abbey??? If so, we need to talk!

Kim Crist said...

I remember reading this book prior to seeing the movie, Mary, and even reading it first I liked the movie better than the novel. I felt it was one of those very few movies that eclipse a book in its drama and depth. The characters of Thornton and Margaret are enjoyable in the movie because of the contrasts-she feels/jumps to conclusions/easily chastened and he is a concise/cool headed/steady individual. The the clothing as well. :) Glad you had a good January reading! Speaking of Dickens, have you seen the new Little Dorrit/Our Mutual Friend/Bleak House yet? All very long but good!