I am so excited to share a book list with you today! I am rediscovering how much I enjoy these posts so I’m finding many such lists that I want to write. This time I am sharing some of my favorites to read if you love North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I love this classic Victorian novel set mostly in the industrial, fictional town of Milton. It’s quickly become one of my favorites. So what should you read if you also love this novel? Hope you enjoy my list below!
Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson // I just finished this novel (thanks for the ARC, Laurel!) and absolutely loved it! It takes place mostly in Manchester (the real city that inspired Milton). Alexander owns a mill just like Mr Thornton which features in several key scenes in the book. Alexander and Isabelle have an arranged marriage and must also overcome a tragic accident that leaves Alexander paralyzed. The story then tells the journey Isabelle and Alexander go on both healing from the accident and learning how to fall in love. It’s a beautiful story and one of my recent favorites! My review is coming in a few weeks!
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell // If you love Gaskell, read more Gaskell! This was my first experience in her writing. A series of short stories about a little English village and the ways people react to the industrial changes of their time. I read this for a class in college and remember enjoying the narrative voice and the simple yet profound stories about these characters. I would like to reread this one day!
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte // I absolutely loved this classic when I read it for The Classics Club last year. I think it fits well with North and South because of the mystery surrounding the protagonist, Helen, and it aptly shows the changing roles of women in this time period. A mysterious lady moves into Wildfell Hall with her young son. The neighbors know nearly nothing about her. A young farmer is intrigued by her and tries to uncover the mystery of her past. I think Anne is my favorite Bronte sister after reading this one!
Persuasion by Jane Austen // I’ve always loved Persuasion and I think it fits well on this list for a few reasons. First, I think Anne reminds me a bit of Margaret. She is ahead of her time and patient in her changing life. Second, Mr Wentworth reminds me of Mr Thornton. He has built a successful career for himself despite many things against him. And I think both these romances are so satisfying because they take time to develop.
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens // I first experienced this story in college with the BBC adaptation starring Claire Foy (so fantastic!!). The book is equally engaging. It follows primarily the story of the Dorrit family. Little Dorrit’s father begins the tale in debtor’s prison when he unexpectedly comes into a fortune. The family meets a series of people who affect their fortune. The ending reminds me a bit of North and South because of the tragedies in both and the lost livelihoods. They both speak to the Industrial Age and the potential for great success or failure.
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier // This book offers a different perspective on life during the Victorian Age. It tells the story of Nan Sparrow, an 11 year old chimney sweep, who survives a chimney fire that should have killed her. When she wakes up, she discovers a golem–a creature made of ash and coal, and together they create a new life. The Victorian Age details about working conditions would shock Margaret and inspire her to change things for them as well.
Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden // I have raved about Elizabeth’s books here before. Her historical fiction novels are set in unique and fascinating times in American history. This one is set in upstate New York around 1900. Sophie is working as a weather station volunteer on an abandoned estate when the owner unexpectedly comes home. He is distant an aloof (sound familiar?) but is also drawn to Sophie. Together they work to undo a family curse and build a life together.
The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall // This is one of my favorite historical romances ever! I love all of Dawn’s Everstone Chronicles but this one I have read many times on it’s own. Estella Everstone goes into hiding after the murder of her brother. She finds herself at her family’s resort hotel called Everston where she meets Dexter Blakely, the handsome manager of the hotel. They can’t deny their attraction to each other but can Estella tell him the truth about who she is especially after he reveals his opinions about her family? I can see traces of Margaret and Mr Thornton (and his family) in this novel. I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Any books you’d add? Other Gaskell novels that you enjoy?