[Review] North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Publisher and Publication Date: Oxford University Press. 1854-55. My edition was published 1998.
Genre: Fiction. Classic literature.
Pages: 496.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of classic literature.
Rating: Excellent.

North and South is a read for these challenges: Victorian Reading Challenge, The Classics Club, Chunkster Reading Challenge, and Back to the Classics Challenge 2021.

For further information:
Oxford World’s Classics
The Gaskell Society
American Literature

Elizabeth Gaskell Goodreads author page

Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson Gaskell, 1810-1865

Other books by Elizabeth Gaskell:

Mary Barton 1848
Cranford 1853
Ruth 1853
The Life of Charlotte Bronte 1857
Sylvia’s Lovers 1863
Cousin Phillis and Other Tales 1865
The Grey Tales and Other Tales 1865
Wives and Daughters 1866
Gothic Tales is an assortment of her writings from 1851-1861. The Old Nurse’s Story is one of these stories. The e-book is currently .99 cents at Amazon.

Summary:

Margaret Hale is the heroine of North and South. Her parents are Mr. and Mrs. Hale. Margaret has one brother, Frederick, who was in the Navy but brought about a mutiny. He is now living on the European continent and in hiding for fear of court-martial. Her father is a minister in the Church of England. She has a cousin named Edith. Edith is Margaret’s age and early in the book she marries.

Margaret is from the south of England. She is a young woman of middle class.

The Hale family’s lives change when Mr. Hale resigns his position as a minister. The family relocates to a northern town in England. It is an industrial town. The mill owner is Mr. John Thornton.

My Thoughts:

This is the second time to read North and South. I’ve seen the film several times. It is a film produced by the BBC.
When I re-read a book I try and focus on something new. I usually pick a different character than when I read the book the first time. Focusing on someone new helps me learn something new about the book. This time I focused on Margaret’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hale.

There are several reasons why I love this story:

1. Margaret is one of my favorite book heroines. She is steady and reliable. She is observant and cautious. She has a heart of gold. She is not a woman who can be persuaded to become involved with a person or an idea without time to think and weigh the decision. She is beautiful in appearance and character.
2. The romantic element has time to develop and mature.
3. Margaret’s parents come across to me as acting much older than their probable age. Margaret is about 18 or 19 when the story begins. Her parents would be in their 40s or early 50s. But they come across as being much older, 60s to 70s. Mr. and Mrs. Hale are insecure, frail, fragile people. Margaret shows remarkable strength in comparison to her parents. Margaret shows remarkable beauty in her character opposite her cousin Edith. North and South is a story of several comparisons: Margaret and her parents. Margaret and her cousin Edith. The industrial town of the north compared to the towns of the south. The industrial workers compared to the owners. There is also a comparison between Protestant and Catholic.
4. Mr. and Mrs. Hale are not a good match. They are a married couple who are not close. They do not bring out the best in one another. They are not a source of strength for one another. They are not a couple who are transparent and honest. Their strength seems to come from Margaret. She is more like a parent than they are. This is intriguing for a story.
5. Mr. John Thornton is a bit of a brooding, serious type character. It is never voiced, but I believe he is lonely for a wife. He is at an age when he no longer wants to share a home with mother, but have a wife and help-mate. I felt empathy for him in the story.
6. Mrs. Thornton who is John’s mother. She comes across as a sour tart. However, there is something I immediately like, she is a person who states how she feels and this is a breath of fresh air. Whether I like what she always says is another matter. She too is a comparison against Mr. and Mrs. Hale.
7. A good, solid, satisfying closure for the story.

I don’t understand exactly why Mr. Hale wanted to leave the church. This is skimmed over. It is vague. However, through their demeanor and behavior I understand how in this type of situation people feel ashamed, disgraced, embarrassed, and humiliated. His career as a minister placed him in a distinct class station. When he left there would be gossip. Those people would treat the minister and his family differently. Add to this is the situation of their son and what happened to him. Both of these issues are too much and the Hale family would need to relocate.

Themes in the story: family honor, romance, suffering, judgment, conformity, beauty, greed, charity, tolerance, grief, kindness, death and dying, courage, and compassion.

[Review] The Emperor of Paris by C S Richardson

Publisher and Publication Date: Portobello Books Ltd. 2014.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 279.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received this book in a drawing from the Words and Peace blog.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction with a setting in France.
Rating: 1 star or poor.

Link for the book @ Amazon

Summary:

Paris, France.

Octavio is the only child of parents who own a bakery. The name of the bakery is Notre-Dame Bakery. It is located in the eighth district of Paris.
Isabeau is a young woman who works on restoring art work.
The story begins before World War I in the early years of the 20th century.
Octavio’s father was a soldier during the war. His father returns a shattered person of who he was.
Through a chance encounter, Octavio and Isabeau meet.

My Thoughts:

I finished reading this book on July 21. If I had not taken notes on the book, I’d not remember much about the story; and this explains the main reason why I have given 1 star or poor as a rating of this book. The book is not memorable. The book is not developed-not in the storyline nor the characters. The book fell flat for me.

Other reasons why this book didn’t work for me:
1. There are no chapters. Nothing but the bare space of where a chapter would be located.
2. The romantic encounter is located further along in the book than I’d like.
3. The experience of war, and the PTSD Octavio’s father endured is not developed. It is set off to the side like a prop on a stage.
4. The story reminds me of a novella-short story.
5. The book itself has several pages of blank spaces. The space is where the chapter heading is usually located or at the end of that chapter. Blank, unused, wasted space is not good. It causes the visual learning style reader (me) to be bored.

Quote of the Week

“Other suns will shine as golden,
Other skies be just as blue;
Other south winds blow as softly,
Gently drinking up the dew.”

Sarah Morgan Bryant Piatt [1836-1919]
“To-day.” Stanza 1

Pulled from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett
Published by Little, Brown and Company in 1955, page 687.

[Review] John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow by Mimi Matthews

Publisher and Publication Date: Perfectly Proper Press. July 20, 2021.
Genre: Gothic literature.
Pages: 364.
Format: NetGalley e-book.
Source: I received a complimentary NetGalley e-book copy from Austenprose. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers who are in the mood for a Gothic literature story.
Rating: Excellent.

Purchase links:
Amazon
Audible
Barnes and Noble

Advance Praise:

“Bertha Mason Rochester shines, dominating her scenes with vitality and strength. The style, too, is spot-on, reprising the spirit of 19th-century Gothic prose without descending into mimicry.”— Publishers Weekly

“An entertaining spin on a classic with thrilling twists and turns…Matthews skillfully transforms a well-known story into a truly original tale.”— Kirkus

“[Matthews] retells Charlotte Bronte’s classic story in a way that will keep fans of the original novel totally gripped from cover to cover… Fresh and dynamic… Fast-paced and spellbinding…a book you will have a hard time putting down.”—
Readers Favorite

“One of the most moving, suspenseful, innovative and remarkable retellings of a classic in the history of, well, ever… Every page is sheer rapture as [Matthews] moulds popular source material into a spell-binding creation so wholly her
own.”— Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration

“[A] captivating and ingenious retelling of Jane Eyre with a supernatural twist. Smart, suspenseful, and deliciously spooky, JOHN EYRE is a must-read; I loved everything about it!”— Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames Mysteries
and the Electra McDonnell series

Author Info:

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Regency and Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

Website/ Twitter/ Facebook/ Pinterest/ BookBub/ Goodreads

Summary:

Yorkshire, England. 1843.
When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious. Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn’t on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she’s powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all. From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

My Thoughts:

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness is a story strong in atmospheric tension and mystery. It is a story re-written from two famous stories of the 19th century. Both of these stories are favorites of mine. When I had the opportunity to read and review John Eyre I jumped at the chance with excitement.

There are several reasons why I love John Eyre:
1. It is a story thick with tension, mystery, anticipation, fear, and dread.
2. I love the details in the story. Human mannerisms and the small things that are done every day that bring a realness to the story. For example, the winding of a pocket watch.
3. I love the descriptions of the scenery and homes. In an atmospheric story like Gothic literature, it is important to show the reader an impact of the gray and grim; and a mist or fog or other objects that obscures what maybe behind it. It is writing that brings mystery and tension.
4. There is a level of sexuality or sensualness in some of the characters, but it is not to a point that takes the story to a level that is too revealing. It is subtle but noticeable.
5. John Eyre is the lead character or hero in @Austenprosethe story. If you recognize his last name, and if you remember the character in the famous 19th century story, Jane Eyre, you are correct. He is the male form of Jane. The story Jane Eyre is my number one favorite story!
6. John Eyre comes across as a Byronic type hero. One of the anticipations for me while reading is I waited and hoped for his character to mature or blossom. I wanted to see a full revealing of his person. I also had strong empathy for him.
7. The story towards the end has gruesome details. This is necessary and is apart of the revealing of what the story has been building up to.
8. Bertha Mason is the female lead character. She is strong, assertive, intelligent, and bold. She is beautiful and has a vibrant personality. She is a person people notice. She is the opposite, because of her language and behavior, in how many of the women are portrayed in l9th century literature. Her character is more of a contemporary written figure. However, her character is a solid balance for the whole of the story. She is certainly intriguing.

Themes in John Eyre: honesty, loyalty, jealousy, obsession, courage, bravery, kindness, heroism, innocence, fear, good and evil, deception, romance, empowerment, hope, and charity.

Quote of the Week

“One simile that solitary shines
In the dry desert of a thousand lines.”

Alexander Pope [1688-1744]
Imitation of Horace or Odes of Horace
Line 111

Quotation pulled from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett.
Published by Little, Brown and Company in 1955, page 320.