To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Elizabeth Gaskells birth we embark on a series of unabridged and abridged recordings of her major novels. North and South follows our widely-praised recording of Cranford (2008), transporting the listener to the heart of Victorian England by vividly delineating the social landscape and an unlikely romance which flourishes within it. Saddened to be leaving behind the sophistication of the South, Margaret Hale approaches her new life in the unrefined, industrialised North with dread. Appalled at the poverty, struggle, and mean conditions that surround her, her revulsion particularly centers on the factory owner John Thornton. Yet, when circumstances conspire to bring them together, Margaret begins to see past crude stereotypes. Conjuring up a fantastic sense of time and place, Gaskells novel of romantic suspense and changing perceptions, is a sheer delight in the hands of Manchester-born reader, Clare Wille.
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From her home ground, her father's comfortably middle-class living in Hampshire and her aunt's establishment in Harley Street, Margaret is exiled to the ugly northern industrial town of Milton. Surprisingly, her social consciousness awakens. It is intensified by a relationship with the local mill-owner, Thornton, that combines passionate attraction with fierce opposition. The novel explores the exploitation of the working class, linking the plight of workers with that of women and probing the myth and reality of the 'north-south divide'.
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