Public Service Announcement. Well, maybe not quite a PSA, I do have a question: Have you ever wondered how big Book Club is? I have! I know there are those of you out there who read the books and are a part of the Book Club but don’t comment (and that’s fine!). Others of you never read the books, but enjoy the Book Club posts. Also fine, wonderful actually. As we apply for grants, many want quantifiable data. The main data we have for Book Club is the number of books we have read. While that is an important piece of information, it is insufficient for the true heart of Book Club. Could you please take a few minutes to complete this survey? In July I’ll share the results. Thanks for your help!
My love of North and South by
Today we are discussing Chapters 27-39. Let’s touch base on the themes mentioned the previous two weeks and tweak them a bit (now that we know where the story is going).
It was funny to see how Margaret used some “factory slang” and her mom did not like it! (Chapter 29)
Also interesting to see how Margaret’s clear preference early on for the South was not subtle and several “Northerns” mentioned moving to the South for a better life. After Bessy died, Nicholas Higgins wants to move South. Margaret tells him, “You must not go to the South, for all that. You could not stand it. You would have to be out all weathers. It would kill your rheumatism. The mere bodily work at your time of life would break you down. The fare is far different to what you have been accustomed.”
Once again, this theme seemed to permeate this third quarter of the book. However, in this section of the book “class” was also displayed in “death.”
- People who died: Bessy, Mrs. Hale, Mr. Boucher, and his widow Mrs. Boucher is described as “dying.”
- While death hit both classes, it did seem to hit the lower socio-economic class harder.
- Women didn’t go to funerals?! What the what?
When Margaret asked her father not to have Mr. Thornton accompany him to Mrs. Hale’s funeral and instead let her escort him, he replied, “You! My dear, women do not generally go.”
Margaret responded, “No: because they cannot control themselves. Women of our class don’t go, because they have no power over their emotions, and yet are ashamed of showing them. Poor women don’t care if they are seen overwhelmed with grief. But I promise you, papa, that if you let me go, I will be no trouble. Don’t have a stranger, and leave me out. Dear papa! If Mr. Bell cannot come, I shall go.”
Not go to your own mother’s funeral? Some cultural customs are truly hard to understand, let alone the class comment. (And then Mr. Bell had gout, and I felt happy.)
- The strike is over, but the class pain is still felt! Nicholas Higgins wasn’t able to get a job because he refused to sign the piece of paper saying he wouldn’t join a union.
- Mrs. Thornton visits Mrs. Hale (at Mrs. Hale’s request) and agrees to watch over Margaret (but not because of fondness for Margaret, but a parental duty. Ha!)
- Fredrick arrived before his mother died! But had to hide because of the bounty still on his head.
- Later, when Fredrick goes to London to meet with Mr. Lennox to try and clear his name, the fact that he could try to clear it was also a sign of class.
- John Thornton was able to quash the inquiry into whether or not Margaret was a part of Leonards’ death.
- Mrs. Thornton visits Margaret and tells her she “had been seen” and she shouldn’t go out.
Oh, how the tensions built in this section!! Mainly it was one big misunderstanding after another. Because John Thornton doesn’t know about Fredrick, when he hears that Margaret was seen late at night at the train station with a man, he assumes it is a “lover.”
He is like a lovesick puppy.
Then Margaret lies about being there when questioned by the authorities. She finds out that John knows she lied and covered for her and now can’t face him. But feelings are beginning to stir!
But Mr. Lennox was described as being “very helpful” to Fredrick, keeping the romantic tension alive and well.
I know the misunderstanding furthers the plot, but they also drive me nuts! Probably no one else will get this reference, but when I was a youngish person (late elementary school?), there was a sitcom on TV that on rare occasions my sisters and I were allowed to watch. Three’s Company. Two women and a man were roommates. EVERY episode was at its heart a misunderstanding between two of the three. It drove me nuts then. So, not much has changed on that front.
What from your past is this book reminding you of?
I think we are correct that original readers would have understood this aspect without needing to be told. Reference is made to “dissenters.” I wonder how original readers would have responded to Fredrick engaged to a Catholic?
This was one of my favorite lines related to this theme:
“Stay!” said Mr. Hale, hurrying to his book-shelves. “Mr. Higgins! I’m sure you’ll join us for family prayer?”
“Higgins looked at Margaret, doubtfully. Her grave sweet eyes met his; there was no compulsion, only deep interest in them. He did not speak, but he kept his place. Margaret the Churchwoman, her father the Dissenter, Higgins the Infidel, knelt down together. I did them no harm.”
- I also loved this line from when Margaret and her brother had a few last moments at the train station. “They did not speak; their hearts were too full. Another moment and the train would be here; a minute more, and he would be gone.” I think we have all felt this as we waited with a family member at the airport.
- In reference to Mrs. Thornton, “She took a savage pleasure in the idea of ‘speaking her mind’ to her, in the guise of fulfillment of duty.” Ha! Oh, Mrs. Thornton.
- But later, when she does confront Margaret, “Margaret said, ‘You can say nothing more, Mrs. Thornton. I decline every attempt to justify myself for anything. You must allow me to leave the room.’ And she swept out of it with the noiseless grace of an offended princess.” This line cracks me up!
We are near to the end. As a treat, I have the BBC special to watch when I’ve finished reading. Chapters 40-52 will answer all remaining questions!
See you in the comments.
- June—North and South by
- July—Hope was here by Joan Bauer
- August—My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman (May have a different title in Europe: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies
- September—Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway