Title: North and South
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Margaret Hale, eighteen, lives in London with her cousin Edith and her affluent Aunt Shaw for over 10 years. And, when Edith marries Captain Lennox, Margaret happily returns to the southern village of Helstone, which she had been missing for quite a while during her stay in London. Margaret refuses an offer of proposal of marriage by the Captain's brother, Henry, training underway to become a barrister. Her life is taken around on an unexpected spin when her pious father, the local pastor, leaves the Church of England and the rectory of Helstone involving certain issues, as a matter of conscience. Father and daughter leave the comfort of their village, and shift into a town in Milton-Northern.
The story follows Margaret as she gets involved with the brash life of the industrial society of the town, and how her abject dismissal of the town turns to a growing fondness for it over the eighteen months that she stays in the town. Love and life hits a young, determined and happy Margaret as she involves herself with the hard-working but poverty stricken people of the town.
This classic has one of the strongest leads that I have ever read. First published in 1854, Elizabeth Gaskell's Margaret is an example of the then emerging modern day woman, who is solid in her opinions and intuitions, and puts a strong foot forward to lead others. Gaskell neatly ties up all the confronting themes of her society, and deals with modernity, tradition, rebellion, authority, love and hope with elegance.
I am fan of classic fiction. And, this one is an invaluable addition to my wonderful library of classics. It proves to us that strength, be it in a woman or a man, is not a new concept, and in fact is age old and gold! I am forever amazed by these wonderful authors who could portray a storm of a character like Margaret in this book, and Daisy Miller in Daisy Miller by Henry James. Books like these undeniably draw me closer to devour classic fiction.
I loved North and South, and so will you!