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North and South: Finding Your Way to Love


Today is the Day of Love. So whether you’ve discovered your true love or you’re still searching, there’s one sure way to find love on this special day. All it requires is finding your way to a great book—Elizabeth Gaskell’s mid-Victorian novel, North and South. You may just find, as I did, the character who becomes (dare I say it?) the compass of your soul. Your True North. For me, that character is John Thornton.

But before I begin waxing romantically about Mr. Thornton, let’s retrace our steps. North and South begins in an idyllic country village and ends in Milton, an industrial town in northern England. As in many great romantic novels, its two star-crossed lovers come from completely different worlds.


John Thornton, heir to a cotton mill, moves in a world of money and machinery: The North.

Margaret Hale, an educated and privileged parson’s daughter, hails from a world that is gracious and genteel: The South.

Cornwall, Helston, Looe Pool

When Margaret’s family moves from their comfortable country parish to begin a new life in Milton, the trouble begins. Margaret’s father takes on students, the first of whom is John Thornton.

John finds Margaret alluring, yet naive and evasive; Margaret finds John dashing, yet unfeeling and aloof. A romance between the two seems impossible. Can they break through the social barriers that forbid a union? Will Mr. Thornton’s pride and Margaret’s prejudice (hmm) forever keep them apart?

This meticulously written novel, first serialized in 1855 in Dicken’s Household Words, is a must-read for anyone looking for romance on a grand scale.

But wait, there’s more.

In 2004, the BBC adapted Gaskell’s novel into a movie starring Hobbit heartthrob Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Why my obsession with John Thornton? Perhaps it was his brooding, Darcy-esque passion that won my heart.

“Yes! He knew how she would love. He had not loved her without gaining that instinctive knowledge of what capabilities were in her. Her soul would walk in glorious sunlight if any man was worthy, by his power of loving, to win back her love.”


Let’s face it. We could all use a little romance in our lives. So whether you’ve found your True North, or are still finding your way, North and South is a read guaranteed to point the way to love.

Click below to read the other posts in Terri Guiliano Long’s Valentine’s Day Blog Hop 2013!

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tin #


    Dropping in from the hop!

    I loved Richard Armitage in The Hobbit! I really should find a copy of North and South and watch him in it. ^_^

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    February 14, 2013
    • Thanks for stopping by, Tin! Blog hopping after I get a little sleep. 🙂 You really MUST see “North & South!” It’s streaming on Netflix in the US, but bought my own copy.

      Happy Valentine’s Day!

      February 14, 2013
  2. Hi Laura,
    Having another go to leave a comment for you. I read North and South at uni and presented a paper on it (a long time ago). Your reference to it has me thinking I’ll have to hunt up my copy and find time to re-read it. Especially with your “Darcy-esque” reminders! Happy hopping.

    February 14, 2013
    • You should, Susanne. Thinking of re-reading it myself! It’s been great discovering some new blogs today. Have fun!

      February 14, 2013
  3. I haven’t read or seen North and South but I’m very intrigued now. I live in the north in a region that had a thriving textile industry but I’ve also lived in the south. It’d be interesting to see how the differences between the two in the novel compare to modern day!

    February 14, 2013
    • Wow, Donna, that’s fascinating! Sounds to me like fodder for a blog post! 😉 I believe you’ll love the book and the movie. But what’s not to love about Richard Armitage? Take care!

      February 14, 2013
  4. Wow, that’s a great post, Laura! I love how timeless this book is. I think its messages apply to all discrimination – view with acceptance, not with assumptions. Thank you so much for taking part!

    February 15, 2013
  5. Thank you, Terri! It was great fun! And thank you for that good reminder. So true. Take care!

    February 16, 2013
  6. This is great Laura! Thank you for the reminder that we all need a bit of romance in our lives. Sometimes, the best romance is the one between the pages of a book. Has PBS shown North & South over here yet? They are so over focused on Matthew Crawley & Downton Abbey now… it’s no wonder. Lots of love! K

    February 16, 2013
    • Thank you, friend! I couldn’t agree more! I’m not aware that PBS has shown “North and South.” Perhaps we could tweet and find out. 🙂 Love you back!

      February 16, 2013
  7. Well, as you can see from my WordPress name, I “love Mr. Thornton,” and this blog entry encapsulates all of the reasons why.

    I was divorced 2 years ago. For me, “North and South” was the beginning of my “waking up” from emotional numbing and also sparked a flame of hope deep inside that my own Mr. Thornton really is out there. It also reminded me of the personal standard I should always keep front and center, to be with a man who not only is noble and true but also loves me for who I am.

    I really enjoyed this blog entry a LOT and will look forward to catching up on what else you’ve written! Thank you for sharing the link with me on Twitter! I have my own silly blog, “Coffee with Mr. Thornton,” but the title is misleading … it’s a blog about nothing. 🙂 I named it that because I love coffee, and if I could have coffee with anyone in the world, it would be the fictional character of Mr. Thornton. So there ya go.

    I hope you have a great day.


    February 24, 2013
  8. trudystattle #

    North and South is my favorite novel for so many reasons. I love the breadth of the subjects she covers – all the turbulent changes occurring in that era. I love the depth of emotions she puts in her characters. They’re all so real, with foibles and strengths. And I adore the subtly woven love story that ties the whole thing together. Sadly, I’ve found that some people miss the beauty of the developing changes in both Thornton and Margaret throughout the novel. They think the last scene in the Harley Street back room is forced since the couple have not talked out their differences in the intervening months of their separation. I find the whole love story absolutely beautiful and complete. It’s not rushed at all. In fact, I think they were ready to come together months before, but misunderstanding kept them apart.
    And, no, N&S has never aired nationally in the US. There may be a campaign afoot to get Masterpiece to air it. I’ll let you know…

    May 29, 2013

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