Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Never Ending Gaskell

As of late, I've been attempting to plow through Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. To give you an idea of how long it's taken me to get through this book, I have now renewed it from the library as many times as I can and it's currently three days late. I'm not taking it back until it's finished. At this point, it is war between us, and Gaskell, teething, sleepless nights, and general exhaustion will not take me down.

So, here's what we're talking about:

Although, I admit, I watched the movie first so I guess I should say that this is what we're talking about:

I was interested because Richard Armitage (who plays the inscrutable mill owner, Mr Thornton) also acted in the BBC's Robin Hood TV series as... Guy of Gisbourne! I'm a sucker for Robin Hood, and Armitage's Gisbourne, well, as Maid Marian put it, "had qualities". Anyway, that said, I watched the movie (and loved it) and got the book out of the library (and have truly enjoyed it in spite of the ridiculously long time it has taken me to get around to reading it).

The fact of the matter is: Gaskell doesn't write fluff. And while I'm loving reading actual literature, it's hard to tune in for 10 minutes here and there while I'm nursing Little Man or standing in line at the grocery store or snagging a quick read at a stop light. Just kidding, I don't do that any more. I'm a mom now. For shame. (Although if you're wondering how I managed to read a 300 page Erma Bombeck book in less than 24 hours, the answer is in the traffic cameras.)

Favourite thing about North and South is the exquisite use of detail to further the story. Gaskell truly is a master of the "show, don't tell" method. She has an entire paragraph that talks about how Thornton is mesmerized by the falling of a bracelet on Margaret Hale's arm, and that's when he still thinks her a horrible snob. It was incredible. She picked what would've been an insignificant detail and capitalized on it, both furthering the plot and developing her characters. Absolutely fascinating.

On that note, I'm going to stop writing and go finish North and South before the library fines bankrupt me.


  1. Well, I am impressed. Mostly because I tried to watch the movie North & South and I found it dreadfully boring!

    I'm assuming that the book is better (of course). (:

  2. Richard Armitage. Sigh. That is all.

  3. First off I love North and South. Second, I love Richard Armitage even more. Enough said