January 31, 2015

North And South Read-Along Part 3

Well, here we are. The final discussion post. It's over! *sadface* Except not really because we still get to watch and tweet about the miniseries next weekend. Yay! :D I finished the book last week and it was delightful! Now thanks to Suey, I'll get to the final set of questions. So much to talk about!

1.  There's much talk about all the deaths in this book. What are your feelings on that? Do you think they were necessary? Or too much?

It does seem a bit much, but as someone mentioned via twitter, death affects us. It changes us. And no one is exempt from it. All the deaths that Margaret had to deal with changed how she felt about Milton and its people. She'll forever have a connection to the city simply because her mother died there. I think Ms. Gaskell needed a catalyst to wake Margaret up to the fact that life and people are so much more than the boxes we tend to put them in. She certainly had more of a tendency to label people one way without giving them the chance to prove her wrong and each death of a loved one forced her to rely on others around her more and to realize that she had people around her who were so much more than she had thought. And not just Mr. Thornton. I think her view of the Higgenses' changed as well. And even Mrs. Thornton! Her father's death made her take a closer look at what Mrs. Thorton's intentions were in how she approached her for their conversation.

2. Was there anything that happened during this last part that you found surprising or unexpected? Or was everything very predictable?

The cat! Oh my gracious, I had to reread that part again just to make sure I'd read it right. What a way to make sure Margaret stopped having too rosy a view of Helstone! Because that's the only theory I have as to why Ms. Gaskell included that.

3. What are your feelings on the about face Margaret and Mr. Thornton have with regard to their financial status?

I knew it would happen since I've seen the miniseries, but on my first viewing I was quite surprised. I hadn't even imagined such a scenario. But what a great way to force each of them to step in the other's shoes for a while. Plus it reconnects them again, for which I am not complaining at all! :)

4. Do you think Margaret is justified in being so anguished over the lie that she told? Does it mostly have to do with her feelings for Mr. Thornton? Or something else?

I think partly it's a combination. She always strove to be honest in everything she said and did and to say this one (quite huge!) lie was a big deal. But I think Mr. Thorton's corresponding omission of truth to save her was largely her wake up call to seeing exactly how much he had done for her. And was still doing for her. Knowing that she had rejected him, he still saved her. That's pretty significant! I don't think many people would have done that. So mostly, I think it has to do with her feelings.

5. At what moment exactly do you think her feelings for Mr. Thornton completely changed?

I'm not sure it was ever a certain moment. I think it was a gradual change and she "was in the middle before she knew she had begun". :)

6. Discuss the character of Nicholas Higgins. What do you think about the relationship he has with Mr. Thornton? Did he change Mr. Thornton? Did Mr. Thornton change him?

I think the miniseries has caused me to love him a bit more than the book would have had I read it first. Because I think Nicholas is awesome! Now granted, he's pretty rough around the edges and gruff-talking, but his heart is so good. I love that he takes Boucher's children in. And he's got a great head on his shoulders! I think that's what Mr. Thornton didn't realize about him at first. Nicholas has a very good sense of right and wrong. He also understands people really well. For all his rough talk, he sees what Margaret's heart is when she approaches he and Bessy about bringing them flowers when they first meet. And what he wanted to happen with the union was actually pretty smart. He was seeking ways to get masters and millworkers to work with one another. And he's honest and upright in all he does. You always know where you stand with him. Sometimes a little too well! :D But I think that's what Mr. Thornton finally saw and came to appreciate.

Likewise Mr. Thornton gives Nicholas an understanding of what being a master is like. Plus he's just as honest and forthright, so their conversations had to be pretty interesting. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for all their conversations because I gathered that they had a lot! I think ultimately, they both changed each other. And I'd like to think that they became really good friends by the end of the book! :)

7. How does Mr. Thornton's views on the master/worker relationship change? Or. . .did it change? Did your view on this issue change as you experienced this book?

I think it does change. I think, through Nicholas Higgens as well as Margaret, he learns a bit more compassion. He always had more than most masters seemed to which is awesome, but he still had more to learn. And since we got to read both points of view right from the beginning, my opinion never really changed.

8. Do you have a favorite quote from this book? If so, share and let us know why it's your favorite.

I didn't really have one that stood out to me the most.

9. The ending! Are you happy with how things turned out? (Try not to compare with the movie here... that's for a later question!)

I am! I love how everything works out and am very happy that Margaret and Thornton get their happy every after. :)

Although I do admit that I wish it didn't end quite so abruptly. I did some research and it turns out that Charles Dickens was mostly to blame for that. Although Ms. Gaskell did end up adding some chapters when she made it into a book and she still didn't add anything to the very end, so....

But I still would have preferred a bit more cute Margeret and Thornton moments!

10. What aspect of this book would you like to address that we haven't yet talked about? Is there something we've skipped over in our discussions that makes you want to say... "Yeah, but what about....?"  And if you've got nothing there, answer this: Did you like the book? Why or why not?

I did enjoy the book very much! I love all the extra detail that we get about what Mr. Thornton's thinking. That was my very favorite part! :)

If you've already seen the movie, go ahead... now is your chance to compare the two! If you have yet to see the movie, skip everyone's comments on this part. After we watch the movie on Friday, you can write a post just about this. Because my guess is, you'll probably have some thoughts!

I thought the screenwriters did a pretty great job of staying accurate with the book. Of course, they did change some things, but that's always to be expected. And I definitely prefer the miniseries ending to the book ending! *dreamy sigh* Plus there's just no comparison between reading/imagining and actually seeing Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton!!!! (How soon are we watching it again?? ;)

January 30, 2015

Retro Friday Review: The Lauren Holbrook Series by Erynn Mangum

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!

I haven't done one of these for a great while, but the author of this series just published number four (happily unexpectedly! :) which I am currently reading and which also made me want to reread the original trilogy (which I proceeded to do). I had so much fun, I decided it was high time I recommended it to y'all. Fun, right? I sure think so! So let's get to it, shall we?


The highlight of this series is Lauren herself. This girl lives on coffee and Jane Austen. I think we'd be best friends were she real! (Well. You know. Except for the coffee part. Make that tea and then we'll talk! ;) But seriously, she's watched Pride and Prejudice so many times that she has it memorized and prefers to quote it with a British accent. She lives on coffee. (To the point that she finds it awfully hard to function without it.) And chocolate! She talks a mile a minute and makes friends everywhere she goes. She doesn't know a stranger and her skill with sarcasm? Brilliant. (Is any of this reminding you of someone? Ding ding ding! Yes! She's remarkably like Lorelai from Gilmore Girls.) In short? She's awesome. And even better? She has an incredible group of people she's surrounded with.

From her co-workers to the people at the coffee shop she frequents to her sister and brother-in-law, the girl has a knack for knowing fabulous people. And also people who can be talked into helping her with her matchmaking. Because Lauren can read people. Quite well, in fact, and her track record with knowing two people who are meant for each other is pretty much unmatched. (Ha! See what I did there?) (Yes. I know I'm ridiculous.) Whether she's "unexpectedly" throwing them together, setting up blind dates with other people so they can see who they're truly meant to be with, or following along with their dates in disguise. And if they reach the moment of "Will you marry me?", you can bet that she'll be there somewhere making sure the moment is as romantic and perfect as possible! (Plus she just likes to see proof of her genius.) The only struggle she has is potentially finding her Mr. Right when she's been planning to stay single her entire life. What a bummer, right?

Mixing her days with her photography job, drinking multiple cups of coffee, setting up her co-workers, saving her sister from Eenie, Meanie, Mienie, and Moe (who are geese, by the way), watching Pride and Prejudice for the millionth time, agreeing to help lead a bible study with 13 year olds (scary stuff!), pretend to date her co-worker's brother-in-law (who's making her heart beat a little faster), and eat more chocolate than is good for her, Lauren is a busy gal.

The point I'm trying to make is that these books are hilarious. And fun! I laugh my way through each book no matter how many times I've read them. Ms. Mangum knows her characters well. But even better is that they're far from perfect. Lauren makes plenty of mistakes, but she realizes it and does what she can to make it better. I can relate so much easier to a character who feels real. And Lauren and her friends feel like people I'd love to hang out with. Where we'd spend the majority of our time laughing and at the end of the evening we'd all be making plans to meet up again the very next day. Aren't these the sort of characters you'd like to meet? :)

My mouth is full of Oreo, ice cream, fudge, and Cool Whip, so I just nod. This is heaven. I'm moving into one of their guest rooms.
"So, Laur, do you want to come with us tomorrow? You can help me plan out furniture while Nick and Ryan dig for grubs," she says, licking her fork.
"Can we keep the rest of this dessert?"
She grins. "Sure."
"Then I'll come."
She watches me put another bite in my mouth and close my eyes. "You're pitiful."
"No, just a chocoholic."
She shakes her head. "Same thing."

January 29, 2015

I've Got North and South On My Brain...

You all know by now that I've been participating in a read-along of North and South. Hence I've been thinking about Mr. Thornton a lot! So I decided y'all should too. ;)

North & South directed by Brian Percival (TV, Mini-Series, BBC, 2004)

Ah, those eyes.

North and South (Part 4)  "My word, Margaret; to admit that the South has its faults and that Mr Thornton has his virtues. What has happened to bring about such a transformation?"

Yes, this would be my favorite scene! I only rewind it three or four times when I watch. ;)

The music for this miniseries is amazing!

For just a quick overview of the series in all its loveliness.


And last, but not least.... *dreamy sigh*

January 28, 2015

Links And Things...

Photo by Bev Lloyd-Roberts LRPS
Hello my lovelies! I trust your January has treated you well so far? Mine's been busy, hence the one post a week dealio. My time has not been my own! (kudos if you know that line, by the way ;) Anyhoo, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I'm still around. Plus I wanted to share a couple posts that I thought were pretty cool! :)

Firstly, Hamlette has written an excellent post on why Anne Elliot, from Jane Austen's Persuasion, is so awesome. And trust me, Anne is very awesome! If you haven't met her yet, I highly recommend that you do! She's one of my favorite characters. And some day I may yet get around to posting my thoughts on why she is and what that has to say about me. But that's for another day!

Secondly, I know I've written multitudes of times how amazing I think My Hands Came Away Red is. You're all probably sick to death about reading about this book. But it's just so fantastic and I want somebody else to think so too! So far, only one of my real life friends has read it and fell in love as much as I. And hardly any of my blogging friends have. *sniff sniff* Alas.... Anyway! That's beside the point. My point is the author of that book, Lisa McKay, also writes a blog and she has a great post from last week regarding getting excited for moving to Vanuatu. It's mostly about her analysis of what "getting excited" consists of though and parts of it resonated with me. Especially the parts about change and how it affects how excited or not excited we get about something.

And lastly, I finished my official re-read of North and South Monday night! Yay! It was perfectly delightful and I'm positive I'll have more thoughts to share later. But I did want to mention that the last discussion post and twitter party is this coming Sunday (Feb. 1st.), so for anybody interested who's not watching the Superbowl, head over to Suey's blog for all the details come Sunday! The more the merrier, I say. :)


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