Sunday, August 7, 2011

28/365 North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Drama! Mist! Look of love! 
So I love this book.
I've read it before, but that first read-through was more like gulping or flying or something, I so wanted to find out what all happened.  I went in this time wanting to read more slowly and thoughtfully, but the third read is going to have to be the charm - I raced through it again. 

I know Gaskell was a victorian lady, and Jane Austen lived rather before that, but I can't help comparing their books.  Dynamic female leads!  I must say, though, that there is rather more action in North and South than, say, in Emma.  In Emma there's a gypsy attack, almost a snow storm and a great deal of angst.  In North and South six people die (one suicide, four illnesses, and a manslaughter), there's a riot in which people are injured, and main characters faint on a regular basis.  It's a veritable bloodbath in comparison.

It's really interesting to me that social historians like her books. I mean, like from a professional standpoint. Who can speak of nebulous social historians' personal reading tastes?  Not I, good sir.  But the social stuff in the story sort of is the tension of the whole thing.   I like that.  I know social tension is, to varying degrees, a deal in every story - but it's a bigger deal in this one.  And I have a vague idea that social stuff was a bigger deal in the Victorian era than it is now.  I mean, like, I think somebody told me it was or something.  Like, yeah.

I actually didn't read this book all the way through - I had bits of it read to me.  Librivox, baby.  There  are some seriously good amateur readers.  And when others were too, ah, awful to listen to, I just read the chapter to myself. And when I did I didn't actually read a paper book.  Project Gutenberg, baby.  Nook, baby.  What a modern girl I am.

I'm contemplating the purchase of an audiobook version read by the FANTASTIC Juliet Stevenson, but I haven't been able to nerve myself up to paying 28 dollars for it.  Juliet Stevenson, incidentally, played Mrs. Elton in the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma.   She and Harriet Walters are, like, two of my favorite British actresses.  I adore them.  I just adore everything tonight.  My sister and I saw Captain America tonight, and it was adorable.  I think I could adore just about anything right now.

Okay, this is so off topic, but Captain America featured Richard Armitage as a tooth-crunching Nazi.  Weird, because coming so fresh from North and South, I couldn't believe he was bad.  I mean, he did a great job, but he was still Mr. Thornton in my head.  Also, glad as I am for him, I am having a hard time picturing him as a dwarf.  I could have seen John Rhys-Davies I could have seen - he's sort of big and jolly and barrel-like.  Richard Armitage seems way too tall.  I just associate him with tallness.  But I'm still glad and think he's going to do a marvelous job.  I also think the guy playing Bilbo is going to be perfect.  Hitchhiker's Guide convinced me - a guy who can say "I need a cup of tea" with that much conviction isn't going to have any problems.

Wow.  Tangents galore tonight.

While we are wandering about, I would like to make it known that, though there are differences, I like the film adaptation of North and South very much.  The differences work.  It's one of the few cases where I enjoy it more because they're different - you get more.

Okay, last tangent:  Don't you think, imaginary reader, that it would be way more fun to be a British actor?  I don't mean because you'd automatically have the option of audiobooks on the side, thanks to your marvelous accent, but because all the British actors have potlucks together in their backyards.  They all know each other.   They have all worked in either a Harry Potter or Jane Austen movie.  Their kids have playdates.  It's like a big happy family.  I know it's true.  There seems to be a pool of actors in England that just do movies together all the time.  A works with B, B works with C, C works with A, and wham-o they're over at each other's houses playing scrabble and watching football.  (And I mean FOOTball.)

CONCLUSION:  I need to go to bed.  And read more Elizabeth Gaskell.  I haven't read of her other stuff because - get this - I'm afraid I won't like it as much as North and South.   I know, right?  Weirdo.

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