In the last few months my life’s been so busy that I don’t know how I managed to read two long books: Gaskell’s North and South and Collins’s The Woman in White – both authors new to me. Finally I had the courage to beat the fear of great narratives. I think somebody famous once said that fat books are like an affair — a great commitment. I must be afraid of commitments then, argh. Sometimes I prefer to watch the movie before I take any chances.
For North and South, I saw the miniseries done by BBC one or two years ago. I didn’t love it that much at that time, so I didn’t think that the book would thrill me either, but oh, how wrong was I! The book was so more enjoyable! The first chapters were slow, so slow and so boring, but then, as soon as the heroine meets Mr. Thornton that book didn’t leave my hands, figuratively speaking because unfortunately I can never finish a book in one sitting. My eyes hurt after an hour or so. In short, if I were to choose between Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester and Mr. Thornton, the latter would be my immediate choice! But then again, if I were to choose between Jane Eyre and Margaret, Jane Eyre would be the one — without any doubt! Margaret seemed a bit childish to me and a little prejudiced at times, and in this way I associate her more with the Austen heroines, whom I admit to dislike sometimes.
Then comes The Woman in White. Well, for this one I decided I would not watch the movie completely. Only saw that part when Mr. Hartright comes into the scene. After Laura’s marriage I stopped the movie. I was interested enough in the novel so I started to read it and re-watched the movie after finishing the book. Because it was a mystery novel, supposedly one of the best, I had reason enough to think that by seeing the whole movie, the novel itself would have been spoiled. And well did I do! True, the movie was very different from the book, but still Laura’s future would’ve been revealed. Before seeing the movie, I had no idea where the novel was going. I thought that Laura would leave the plot and Marian would have to take revenge on the Count. I also couldn’t have guessed (in years!) the secret of Sir Percival which I will try not to reveal here because I don’t want to give spoilers. Usually, I don’t care about them, I have read lots of books after reading about their ending and didn’t mind them, but with this Collins book, part of its charm is the fact that at a certain moment you will feel that you can guess what’s happening, only to be revealed later that you were totally wrong. It was a marvellous book, with memorable characters. I found Marian a sort of ‘Jane Eyre’, Laura resembling a bit with the Jane Austen heroines, but without their prejudices… Laura is really a sweet, innocent girl, and Mr. Hartright is the courageous hero ready to give his life for his love. What’s not to love at this triangle? In short, it was a great novel.
I also read The Mistress of Shenstone, expecting a novel as beautiful as The Rosary. And it was, but… incomparable with the latter. It was also shorter, maybe if the action were paced wiser it would’ve been a read as thrilling as The Rosary. Other than this, it was enjoyable.
I’m looking forward to finishing Wives and Daughters after seeing the BBC movie adaptation which I enjoyed more than the North and South one. Justine Wadell is perfect in the role and Roger is like another Mr. Thornton. Gotta love the Gaskell men!