Pop lit saved me this summer. It's easy to rush out for 10 minutes for a gasp of contemporary "lite" fiction on a "break." But now everything is organized, and I am home again.
So I've turned to a relaxing Victorian novel--a rejuvenating novelistic "cocktail," which I "drink" along with fresh lemonade.
|Rejuvenating Victorian novel!|
The novel does not begin with politics. Margaret Hale, the 19-year-old heroine, is happy in the beautiful rural village where her father is a clergyman. After Mr. Hale has a crisis of belief, he resigns from the Church of England. The family moves to Milton, an industrial town, where Mr. Hale works as a tutor to Mr. Thornton, the owner of a cotton mill who wants to learn Greek and Latin.
The North is smoky and gritty, and there are no trees. No one is happy, but Margaret must manage the household because her mother is very ill. A relationship develops between Margaret and Mr. Thornton--he falls in love with her, but she considers him rough. A strike brings the two both closer together and farther apart. Though Margaret knows a striking worker's family, and thus sympathizes with the men, she believes the Union is wrong. When the men throw rocks at Mr. Thorntons for hiring Irishmen, she runs out and stands in front of him, putting her arms around him to protect him, not because she likes him but because it is the right thing to do. She is hit by a rock.
Mr. Thornton and his mother interprets her action as love, and when Margaret refuses his proposal he is upset and his mother thoroughly annoyed. Margaret grows to respect Mr. Thornton.
There are also other subplots, but let me say that the factory politics and the relationship between Margaret and Mr. Thornton are the most interesting (so far).
I admire North and South, but Wives and Daughters is Gaskell's masterpiece.