North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South is Elizabeth Gaskell’s fourth novel and considered by many to be her best. It tells the story of Margaret Hale, a principled young middle-class woman from the rural South whose family are obliged to re-settle in the Northern industrial town of Milton. Joining us to discuss the novel’s contemporary relevance, are two new guests: Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad and Nell Stevens, author of the memoir, Mrs Gaskell & Me. We cover the books presentation of labour relations at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the changing position of women in society, the reasons for Elizabeth Gaskell’s uncertain reputation, her unsentimental treatment of death and – spoiler alert – whether the novel’s ending works. Also in this episode, Andy is impressed by No Document, Australian writer Anwen Crawford’s ground-breaking work of elegiac non-fiction and John enjoys the exquisite imagination on display in Chloe Ardijis’s Dialogue with a Somnambulist, the Mexican novelist’s recent collection of stories, essays and pen portraits.

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