As I mentioned last week, I’m participating in the North and South Read-a-long during the month of August. This is really fun for me because I’m usually terrible about reading books for book clubs, but as this one is broken up into weekly sets of chapters, it makes it much more manageable to keep up. Plus I like the back and forth of discussing the book with other people as I’m reading, rather than just at the end.
Anyway, Andi’s put up the first week’s discussion questions, so here goes:
1. How are you liking the book?
I’m enjoying it so far, more so as I get into it. At first I was reminded of Jane Austen (as someone said) in the style and setting, but the story quickly moves from the country life of the gentry to a more typically Victorian one, wherein the old rural world and the new urban world are in conflict. I recognized a lot of the themes seen in books such as Dickens’ Hard Times, which I taught a few years ago.
2. What is up with Margaret’s father?
To me, he comes across as pretty weak-willed–I can’t believe he didn’t have the balls to tell his own wife what was going on with their situation, instead delegating that task to his daughter. But at the same time he is typical of a Victorian man who sees women as the ‘angel of the house,’ a perfect moral pillar who would be corrupted by his doubts and weaknesses. He can’t face her condemnation. He also shows the real religious struggles that were going on at the time, as things like Darwinism were making so many people question their faith.
3. What do you think of Thornton and his first impression of Margaret?
I found it interesting that Thornton sees Margaret as beautiful, as this is not a view of her that we’ve had up to this point (not that she’s bad-looking, but even Henry Lennox doesn’t use the word beautiful to describe her). He also sees her as haughty and proud, which is pretty much how I started to see her once she started going on about the merchant class. I realize that a lot of her attitude is a product of her upbringing, and I’m hopeful after seeing how she interacts with some of the working class of the city that we will see a more tender side to her to balance out her prejudice. I think living in Milton is going to be an eye-opening experience for Margaret.
Hope you guys are enjoying the book as much as I am, and I’m looking forward to reading what everyone else is thinking at this point….