There was a time when I finally finished all of Jane Austen's books (twice) and I suddenly didn't know where to turn next. I loved reading about dances, and witty banter, and most importantly, Society with a capital S. After getting stuck in a long reading rut, I stumbled upon North and South, and despite the lack of dances, I found beautiful writing, memorable friendships, and a fair amount of tempestuous romance. This book is more political and industrial than my Austen-norm, but it was just the right book for my fix. I found myself sucked into the troubling world of cotton factories, and unjust class prejudices. Margaret Hale has now become one of my favorite heroines. She's pulled out of her comfortable country lifestyle and thrown into this busy working environment, and we are reminded that there are two sides to every story.— Leah
NORTH AND SOUTH ELIZABETH GASKELL MOGUL BOOKS Margaret Hale, 19, happily returns home from London to the idyllic southern village of Helstone after her cousin Edith marries Captain Lennox. She lived nearly 10 years in the city with Edith and wealthy Aunt Shaw to learn to be an accomplished young lady. Margaret, herself, has refused a marriage offer from the captain's brother, Henry, a rising barrister. But her life is turned upside down when her father, the pastor, leaves the Church of England and the rectory of Helstone as a matter of conscience-his intellectual honesty having made him a dissenter. On the suggestion of his old friend from Oxford, Mr. Bell, he settles with his wife and daughter in Milton-Northern, where Mr. Bell was born and owns property. An industrial town in Darkshire (the Black Country), a textile-producing region, it is engaged in cotton-manufacturing and is smack in the middle of the industrial revolution where masters and workers clash in the first organised strikes.