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North and South

By: Elizabeth Gaskell
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
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Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Written at the request of Charles Dickens, North and South is a book about rebellion; it poses fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. Gaskell expertly blends individual feeling with social concern, and her heroine, Margaret Hale, is one of the most original creations of Victorian literature.

When Margaret Hale's father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience she is forced to leave her comfortable home in the tranquil countryside of Hampshire and move with her family to the fictional industrial town of Milton in the north of England. Though at first disgusted by her new surroundings, she witnesses the brutality wrought by the Industrial Revolution and becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers. Sympathetic to the poor she makes friends among them and develops a fervent sense of social justice. She clashes with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, who is contemptuous of his workers. However, their fierce opposition masks a deeper attraction.

Gaskell based her depiction of Milton on Manchester, where she lived as the wife of a Unitarian minister. She was an accomplished writer, much of her work published in Charles Dickens' magazine Household Words including North and South which was originally published as a serial. She was also friends with Charlotte Brontë and after her death, her father, Patrick Brontë, chose Gaskell to write The Life of Charlotte Brontë.

Narrator Biography

Whether she's up on stage, behind the microphone or in front of the camera, Juliet Stevenson never fails to charm her audience...whoever they may be. Acting roles in Truly, Madly Deeply, Emma, Bend It like Beckham and Mona Lisa Smile have cemented her status as one of the great British actresses of our time. Meanwhile, her popular performances of hits such as Apple Tree Yard, the book that was turned into a TV series that people just couldn't stop talking about, have earned her an overwhelming amount of well-deserved praise for her spoken word talents.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"[An] admirable story...full of character and power." (Charles Dickens)

What listeners say about North and South

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

an interesting novel made special by the reading

North and South must be on many people's list of 'books I ought to read but never have' - in book form, its length is rather daunting! Juliet Stevenson's reading, which truly deserves to be described as beautiful, made listening to it a matter of complete enjoyment. There are so many characters to enjoy, scenes to remember, and the well-known depiction of various social classes and contrasts in Victorian Britain, and Juliet Stevenson brings them all out to the full, never missing a single element in her faultless performance. Perhaps credible plot is not Mrs Gaskell's strongest point, but I was surprised at how exciting the story often is. Altogether I have spent several days hooked up to my iPod at every available minute, and this is one of the best audiobooks I have had so far. Strongly recommended.

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65 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A definite winner!

Dont' be put off by Audible's somewhat dry academic description of this book. Yes, it is "set in the context of Victorian social debate" but it is primarily a wonderful and powerful story, superbly written by Elizabeth Gaskell and excellently read by Juliet Stevenson.

It contrasts southern city life and southern and rural life with the hardship and grime of life in a northern mill town. It paints a vivid picture of the struggle between poverty-striken mill workers and prosperous mill owners. It includes action, tragedy and passion as well as romance and gentleness. Who can forget the many memorable and believable characters who demand your sympathy. A powerful book I could not put down. I highly recommend it to you.

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46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • gg
  • 15-02-10

Romance and Finance

In many ways this story of boom and bust is relevant now as it was when written.I loved the story of how a girl brought up in the country adapted to the life in the Northern town. She is a strong comple heroine and I found this book really got me thinking about what is fair and not fair in daily working life. If this sounds dreary it's not at all, the love story and the family dramas are compelling and it is an uplifting book well read with a great story.

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42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

North and South (Unabridged)

Never having been top at the class at english lit., I often find that the pleasant but flowery language of many classics distracts me from the plot. More often than not I feel that I 'should' read or listen to a classic but cannot honestly say I really enjoyed it. North and South however is now in my top five books I love. I got a real sense of the time and place, the characters were vivid and interesting but most of all it was a lovely romance. The sex and violence of modern novels replaced with gentle sensuality against a sometimes brutal backdrop of poverty and untimely death. The narrator was perfect and added to the experience and now I'm off to buy the book to read it myself.

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32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • RJ
  • 10-08-11

I love this story even more now

I already liked North and South from a previous reading and the BBC TV adaptation. Now I love it even more, largely due to Juliet Stevenson's fantastically evocative reading. She brings all of the characters alive and gives them their own voices. I have already listened to it three times and I sense it will be pulled out again and again... I have now bought another classic read by Juliet Stevenson as I enjoyed this one so much!

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16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Superb narration of a multi-layered novel

I’ve read a couple of other books by Mrs Gaskell so had an idea of what to expect and I wasn’t disappointed. Its a very long book that explores the impact of loss of social status on a family, including the plucky central character Margaret Hale, against a backdrop of industrial unrest. Like Dickens, the author highlights the inequalities in society, however, I find her characters more realistic compared with Dicken’s propensity to create caricatures. It’s surprising that at the time Mrs Gaskell was regarded as inferior to Dickens and her books largely forgotten until recently. For me she’s up there with Trollope and Dickens without their tendency to have meek, soppy young heroines.

Juliet Stevenson’s narration is superb and more like a radio drama owing to her ability to create so many different voices.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An epic love adventure

This story has a lovely atmosphere. It's about the contrasts of the landscapes and the contrasts in the people who live, in the North and in the South of England. In Margaret Hale's journey from one end of the country to the other she sees these differences. Then she meets Mr Thornton, a mill owner, and an epic love adventure begins.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Reading

I wasn't sure I would enjoy this at first but I absolutely did. The portrayal of life, social culture, relationships, the breaking down of the stereotypes of north and south, are absolutely fascinating. A must read.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderfull

This is one of my favourite books, and like all the other audio books that Julliet Stevenson has recorded she has done both the book and characters proud.

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7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wondeful listen

Wonderfully narrated. The interesting prose about life during this age intermingled with the personal lives of the characters kept me coming back to this audio book whenever I could.
Thoroughly enjoyable.

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7 people found this helpful