There was a time in my teens when Elizabeth Gaskell’s Victorian novel “North & South” was my favourite book. Indeed, after Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, I don’t recall ever liking another novel quite so much. The novel was masterfully written, the themes were (social and economic divide, religious dissent, romance) compelling and the characters, while not nearly as colourful as Austen’s Lizzy Bennett and Mr Darcy, were sympathetic. In fact overall, I would choose North & South as a better read. It is less fluffy even while the romance between the main characters (rather similar to P & P in form) is better-developed.
So imagine my excitement and delight when I found out that BBC had dramatized North & South in 2004! Apparently, not since 1995’s Pride & Prejudice had there been a dramatic adaptation of a Victorian novel met with such enthusiasm by both critics and the public.
The 4 episode mini-series is up on youtube if you’d like to check it out. If you are a fan of period dramas and Victorian classics as I am, you absolutely CANNOT miss this. Unfortunately, the DVD seems to be unavailable in Singapore, but I think I will eventually order it from abroad.
Friends who remember me swooning over Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy in P&P, I’ve gotta tell you that I think Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Mr Thornton in this series has superceded the former in my affections. In fact, there are scenes so swoon-worthy and squeal-inducing that I highly suggest you watch it alone or with girlfriends. Husbands and boyfriends (especially ones who don’t know the name of Jane Austen, let alone Elizabeth Gaskell), would probably want to be spared.
Of course I couldn’t resist showing my hubby one scene from the series which had me in fits of romance-mania. As I let out a dreamy sigh at the end of the scene, he quips, “Ok lah, but it’s so unrealistic.” *sigh* (not that I expected him to have the same reaction as I did cos er… that would have been weird. :P)
I want to dig out my North & South novel and re-read it again (5th? 6th time?)!