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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
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    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

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    4 out of 5 stars

A classic

Really enjoyed this, have seen the tv adaption & enjoyed hearing the full story. Knocked off a point because it does go on a bit but still loved it!

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gripping and interesting

what a find! gripping story about love and (mis)communication in early industrial revolution. it'll surprise you.

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Great narration, as always, from Juliet Stevenson

Juliet Stevenson is one of the best audio narrators out there and she does as fantastic job with Mrs Gaskell's novel about a young girl uprooted from her soft southern life and sent to live in a 'dark satanic mill' town. I'm glad I listened to it, but I must confess that this is one of the very few times in my life when I have - gasp! - actually preferred the screen adaptation to the original book! The 2004 BBC tv version, with a screenplay by the terrific Sandy Welch, is fabulous... and personally, I found it far more engaging than Mrs G's rather moralising original.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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I love this story

Juliet Stevenson’s performance was fabulous.
One of my favourite stories that I never want to end .

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Both Gaskell and Stevenson are amazing

Loved this story, so beautifully written and then brought alive by Juliet Stevenson's truly masterful performance. Quite long but worthwhile.

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  • S
  • 25-04-15

Brilliantly read - quite a good story

I enjoyed this Audible book as it was beautifully read.
The story was quite good, although a bit dreary at times. I preferred Mary Barton. Nevertheless this novel is well-worth listening to. The characters are realistic and the reading brings them to life. Another excellent Audible book.

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North and South

Excellent all through.
The story is beautifully written, poetic , romantic exciting and informative of the times in which the story is set.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good read

First look at Elizabeth gaskell and didn't disappoint. An enjoyable read. Looking for more now.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Every line was a treat.

A melody of a read. An uncomplicated story line with scene setting that grips the imagination of the reader.

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