As booksellers, we often overhear customers lamenting that they've always meant to read “that other Jane Austen novel,” or Graham Greene, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but just never found the time. We've tried to remedy that with our Classics I Forgot to Read Book Club by providing motivation and a welcoming space to share your thoughts.

In choosing our ‘classics’ over the past few years, we've tried to select titles that had some visibility among readers, but were not necessarily included in the standard high school English class. We've also sampled a range of genres, from mystery (The Long Goodbye) to comedy (Cold Comfort Farm) to stream-of-consciousness (To the Lighthouse). So, whether our picks are already gathering dust on your bookshelves or this is your first encounter with the literary canon, we encourage you to join us on the last Wednesday evening of every month for conversation about the classics.

Monday, March 31, 2008

March 2008--North & South

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Though it originally appeared as twenty two magazine installments in 1854-55, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South is more subtle than one might expect from a serialized Victorian novel. The protagonist, Margaret Hale, is forced to leave her beloved country home in the south of England and travel north with her mother and father to the city of Milton. Margaret’s shock at the effects of mechanized labour, poverty and sickness rings true, perhaps because Gaskell herself worked among the poor in Manchester. Yet Margaret also experiences genuine kindness and integrity among Milton’s inhabitants, and she is forced to overcome her own intolerance especially with regard to John Thornton, a local mill owner with whom she has fallen in love. More than a romance between two passionate, stubborn and intelligent individuals, Gaskell illustrates the conflict between the pastoral and the urban in the growing shadow of the industrial revolution.


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