Book: Margaret of the North by E Journeycategories: Book, North South Sequel, Industrializing England, Historical Romance, Mid-1800s Paris, Gaskell Sequel, Margaret Hale, Enduring Romance, Gaskell/Austen Pastiche, John Thornton, Guilty Pleasure, Victorian Feminist Romance
E Journeyabout this book: A sequel. A pastiche. An enduring romance. A guilty pleasure. As it does all this, Margaret of the North tries, as well, to show that even in Victorian times, some women asserted their individuality to curb a niche for themselves in a society that effectively negated them except as housewives and mothers—a background, hopefully a nurturing one,against which men did their thing.
A sequel. While it can be read on its own, this historical romance does take off from the much more compelling ending of the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. The characterization, however, of the main protagonists owe a lot to and is developed further from the book. The honeymoon in a vibrant mid-century Paris and days of ease in Cadiz help change the characters' outlook.
Pastiche. "A literary, artistic, musical, or architectural work that imitates the style of previous work"—Merriam-Webster. Margaret of the North, by this definition is a pastiche of 19th-century writers in the tradition of Jane Austen. One reviewer calls it a voice "that hearkens back to the classics." It is a decision consciously taken by the writer that may not appeal to everyone and may be "complex" or "hard to read." But one reviewer "found the transition between reading Gaskell and reading Journey to be rather seamless." And still another "loved the near-magical way that E. Journey strung sentences together that evoked such vivid imagery simply with words."
An enduring romance. Impossible, some people would say. But those are the skeptics and this is a novel, a piece of "blissful escapism for a teeny tiny price, " as one reviewer said. Still, it seems to be lost on some readers that much of the book happens within a span of three years. Many romances do last at least as long or longer. The book is full of "small touches and shared looks ... little moments that served to create a lovely, palpable air" between John and Margaret.
A guilty pleasure. Writing this book, for me, was a guilty pleasure I hid from friends and relatives until the book was published. It warms my heart to find that some readers have found it so, as well: "I wanted to stay forever lost in the pages of this story, never to leave." Can anything better gratify a writer than such a reaction from a reader?
A Victorian feminist romance. To many, Victorian feminist is an oxymoron. But, in fact, she did exist. When I developed Margaret Hale's character, back of my mind was the painter/feminist Barbara Bodichon whose rich very unconventional father, bequeathed an equal portion of his wealth to Barbara. At that time, only the first-born male inherited.
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Video: Margaret of the North by E Journey
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