Can a rekindled relationship mend more than just the hopes and dreams of the residents of Milton?
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Source: I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I’d like to thank Nicole Clarkston and Janet Taylor, from More Agreeably Engaged, for inviting me to be part of this lovely blog tour for Ms. Clarkston’s latest release, “Northern Rain: A North & South Variation.” I must confess before my review that I have never read “North and South” by Elizabeth Gaskell and my only past interaction with this story comes through my viewing of the 2004 BBC adaptation of Gaskell’s “North and South.” Therefore, I am unable to connect my review with the subplots and themes in her book that weren’t present in the BBC adaptation.
As an ardent admirer of Jane Austen’s writing, after I viewed “North and South,” I felt that Gaskell drew upon many of the themes and story devices from “Pride and Prejudice” when she wrote “North and South and made them work within her own story.” I admire how Gaskell felt compelled to put pen to paper in an effort to bring some of the most pressing social situations of her day to the forefront of her readers’ minds, which I believe many readers of “Pride and Prejudice” will admire and enjoy her story. With these points in mind, I am thrilled to review this “North and South” Fan Fiction for my Just Jane 1813 readers and offer them an opportunity to be part of Ms. Clarkston’s generous giveaways.
As many authors have successfully done in the past, Ms. Clarkston uses the weather as her means of uniting her story’s hero and heroine; the recently scorned Mr. John Thornton and the melancholy Margaret Hale, who find each other unexpectedly sharing an umbrella during an unanticipated spell of rain. Since Mr. Thorton’s failed marriage proposal to Ms. Hale, relations have ceased between the two, making this meeting awkward for both of them. Yet, the walk does restore a certain amount of amiability between them and from here they find themselves spending some time once again in each other’s company; is there hope that a new understanding can materialize between these two conflicted and independent-minded people?
John Thornton, who is still nursing a broken heart, is now looking to seek additional prosperous means for ensuring the safety and financial welfare of his business since the mill is struggling to sustain its prosperity. As he becomes better acquainted with the Hamilton family, and their daughter, Genevieve, it becomes apparent that the Hamilton family has more than business designs in mind for Thornton. Now that Genevieve has returned from her travels on the Continent, she is eager to find a way to gain Thornton’s attention, and ultimately, get him to the altar. As part of her plan, she has renewed her friendship with John’s sister, Fanny Thornton, who is more than willing to smear Margaret’s good name across the town, in an effort to pair John with Genevieve. Will the desires and scheming at the hands of Mr. Hamilton, Genevieve, and Fanny help to bind the ties between John and Genevieve into a more permanent connection?
Meanwhile, Margaret, who tends to stay near her lonely and ailing father, also becomes acquainted with Miss Hamilton, and the two women strike up a friendship. However, neither woman is fully aware of the other’s motives, which leads to some interesting discoveries along the way for both of them. As the workers at the mill grow more restless due to the issues surrounding the mill, Margaret continues to foster positive relationships with the workers’ union and is surprised to find out that another person of her acquaintance in Milton is also taking a personal interest in the welfare of the workers’ lives. Perhaps a solution can be found to help the mill sustain its viability in what is becoming a more competitive industry in England? Will this lead her to mend her ties with John Thornton, or could her willingness to support the mill also be due to alterations in her own feelings for Mr. Thornton?
From what I understand about the pacing of “North and South,” Ms. Clarkston’s story has a similar pace; what begins as a story that methodically works to establish the backgrounds of its characters and some of the social inequities of this era, which are woven throughout the themes of this story, picks up the pace about a third into the story, which is when I felt firmly connected to the characters and was eager to keep reading the story to watch the various events unfold. Most of the storylines are well-developed and offer another view of the struggles that face the various characters throughout Milton. I loved the way Ms. Clarkston’s new characters meshed with Ms. Gaskell’s characters to create a story with interesting subplots that all tied neatly within the story’s main storyline.
I was drawn into the romantic relationship between John and Margaret that was gradually developed in this story and the creative ways that Ms. Clarkston built the internal and external tensions for her characters throughout her story. Here, she creates a more sensitive and vulnerable John Thornton than the one from the BBC adaptation, and it was wonderful to be privy to his inner feelings and gnawing struggles. If I had to choose between rereading this book, or watching the BBC adaptation again, I would have a difficult choice ahead of me, because they were both such pleasurable experiences! For anyone reading this story, I highly recommend watching or reading “North and South” prior to reading this book because there are quite a few storylines that are connected to events in “North and South.”
There was one storyline that I felt had more potential for further development in this book, which was towards the end of the book, when another obstacle arises as Margaret leaves Milton and she finds herself reconnected with a former suitor. I would have enjoyed reading more about this relationship and watching the events unfold here in a more gradual manner. However, this point was a minor drawback for me, and in a book that’s over 400 pages long, there’s certainly more to love here than to quibble about!
This was my first time reading a “North and South” variation and it won’t be my last. I’m just happy Ms. Clarkston already has another one titled, “No Such Thing As Luck: A North and South Variation,” that’s been published so I can indulge in another great variation before she publishes her next “North and South” variation. And for my Austen-only lovers, I want to say that things are looking very promising for Ms. Clarkston’s next “Pride and Prejudice” variation. Stay tuned for more from this talented writer...
Northern Rain Blurb
There is nothing like a long walk in the rain to guarantee a little privacy… unless the last person you wish to encounter happens also to be in search of solitude.
John Thornton is a man of heavy responsibilities who has many things on his mind, but the most troublesome of them all is Margaret Hale. She wants nothing to do with him, and he wishes he could feel the same. When a moment of vulnerability allows her a glimpse into his heart, she begins to see him very differently.
Is something so simple as friendship even possible after all that has passed between them? Thornton has every good reason to move on, not the least of which is the lovely Genevieve Hamilton and her wealthy father. Will Thornton act according to duty and accept an opportunity to save his mill, or will he take a chance on love, hoping to change Margaret’s mind?
Nicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools. She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 15 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don’t ask).
Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.
Connect with Nicole :
7/8-9: Launch Vignette, Excerpt & Giveaway at Fly High
7/ 10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7/11: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
7/12: Author Interview at More Than Thornton
7/14: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
7/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/17: Vignette & Giveaway at Laughing With Lizzie
7/18: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
7/19: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at So little time…
7/20: Vignette & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
7/21: Vignette & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/24: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
7/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
9/10: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
There’s a fantastic giveaway that Just Jane 1813 readers can take part in! Enter the Rafflecopter on the link below and post a comment on this post to enter a chance to win one of the following prizes:
4 eBooks of “Northern Rain”
4 Paperbacks of “Northern Rain”
2 Audiobooks of “Rumours and Recklessness,” a P&P variation that I reviewed in March 2016
2 Audiobooks of “No Such Thing As Luck: A North and South Variation”
Enter the giveaway through this Rafflecopter link . The giveaway ends on July 28, 2016.