Reviews are important for the marketplace but see my perspective on them: What Some People Are Saying: Book Reviews and their uncertain utility in how we choose what we read: Who’s To Say: Subverting the Tyranny in Book Reviews.
These are the most recent reviews ordered by date (most recent first):
5/5: E. Journey’s Margaret of the North is an engaging sequel to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. The story of Margaret and John’s romance from North and South is one that really engages readers and leaves them wanting more. Journey has fulfilled that desire with her book. Readers who enjoyed North and South will find reading this sequel to be a distinct pleasure.
Journey brings a freshness and vitality to Gaskell’s characters. Margaret is every bit as compelling a character as she was in Gaskell’s work. The romance between Margaret and John is continued in this novel.
Their intensely passionate relationship and abiding love are revealed in touching moments described in evocative prose. John’s mother, Mrs. Thornton, is deliciously unlikeable. She really does not care for Margaret. She is a bit harsher in this book than in the original, but that serves Journey’s story well. Journey clearly loves these characters. They are well-crafted and multi-dimensional in Journey’s capable hands.
Journey includes a necessary retelling of events that happened in the original book, to remind readers who may have forgotten, and to orient those who have no experience with the original.
The themes of the novel — the effects on society of industrialization, and the interplay of a Victorian woman’s independence with her romantic relationship to a man – are artfully woven around a storyline that furthers the story in North and South quite well. Journey’s voice is reminiscent of Gaskell’s, and I found the transition between reading Gaskell and reading Journey to be rather seamless. Journey’s prose is well written, and her historical details well researched.
I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoyed North and South
Jhanni Parker on Goodreads.com, August 30, 2012:
5/5: Loved this book! Wow, I only just finished it a few hours ago and I can’t get it out of my mind! I wanted to stay forever lost in the pages of this story, never to leave. I love the way the E. Journey writes, the words seemed to almost put me in a trance at times! I was totally pulled into Margaret’s world and felt her struggles along with her as she navigated the terrain of her new life and all the conflicts that came with it. Was this book perfect? Of course not…no book is. But what it did do was provide me with hours of blissful escapism for a teeny tiny price and for me that is pure heaven! This novel is in my mind a wonderful companion to the “North and South” miniseries and stands in its own right. I’d definitely love to read more from this author in the future as she has a new fan in me!
Samantha on Samantha Holt, Author; also on Goodreads, August 27, 2012:
4/5: “It should be noted that this book continues on from the BBC series and not Gaskell’s book so when I make references to characters or events, it is with the series in mind.
The first thing that struck me was the intense passion that continued between John and Margaret. E Journey carried on the idea of small touches and shared looks that play so prominently between the two characters. These little moments served to create a lovely, palpable air between them, particularly leading up to their wedding.
I was also grateful for the continued tensions between Margaret and Mrs Thornton. A few sequels I’ve read tend to gloss over the relationship between them when it is clear that it would take an awful lot for these two to ever get on. In other books the character of Mrs Thornton changed dramatically to suit the situation but with this one I found myself reading her dialogue with the actress, Sinead Cusack, in mind.
This book very much focuses on the romance and the development of their lives together. It does not play particularly on the gritty side of life and you won’t see much of the workers lives. Although Margaret and John make attempts to improve their lives, Margaret does not come sweeping in and expect everything to be different. Again, other sequels do. I am grateful for this and though I didn’t personally miss the conflict between workers and masters, I would imagine that some would.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen more of was some conflict between John and Margaret. There were a few moments when they clashed ever so slightly but it never lasted. These are two strong willed people and I imagine their life would not have run quite so smoothly. The only other comment I have that could be construed as slightly negative was the Americanism ‘Gotten’ coming up quite a lot. I know E Journey hails from America so I will forgive her for this one! It just happens to be one of my bugbears!
That aside, I really enjoyed the story and it was thoroughly gratifying to see their passion for one another and the ending took me by surprise as it completely changed my feelings for Mrs Thornton! A must read for North and South fans.”
Samantha R on Goodreads.com, August 27, 2012:
3/5: “I had a hard time getting in to this book at first, mostly because I had no idea what the other book/story (North and South) was about. I’d never even heard of it, but I do like historical romance so I thought I’d give it a shot. I do feel like the author brought me up to speed on the events that occurred prior to the opening of her novel “Margaret of the North”, but for me, I kept feeling like there was something I wasn’t quite getting. So I don’t know if this is my own fault for having not been familiar enough with the prequel, but I’m not sure this is so great as a standalone, at least in my opinion. But I can say that it did seem like a really good book and the writing was excellent! I just felt a little lost and think I would have appreciated it more with the knowledge of the backstory.”
Darla on Goodreads.com, August 24, 2012:
4/5: “First and foremost, I must commend the author E Journey on writing such a beautiful and moving novel. It must have taken a long time and much effort, and it really shows in the pages of Margaret of the North. I’ve read too many books where it is obvious the author rushed the process or was just “winging it”, and this is clearly not the case here. The narrative was tight and strong, and the plots were well thought out and artfully woven together. I am a stickler for grammar and punctuation, and was pleased at the level of editing found here that is rare to find in many Indie published books. Bravo. I do wish, however, that there could have been a bit more action and tension that would propel the reader forward. While the prose was lovely and lyrical, I felt a certain lack of urgency that made me HAVE to turn the page…I just did it because I wanted to. This is not a light or a quick read, but it is one that will consume you for days and leave you happier for having read it.”
Carla on Goodreads.com, August 22, 2012:
5/5: Being totally unfamiliar with the story that “Margaret of the North” is based on (the series “North and South”), I was able to read and appreciate this book with a clear and open mind. I immediately was drawn into the story of Margaret and John and loved watching their romance unfold. The author did a wonderful job of taking my imagination to another time and place and keeping it there. The characters were well-rounded and dynamic, the storyline engaging and intricate, and the descriptions clear and vivid. Almost everything I could want for in a great book. It is a bit on the long side compared to what I am used to, but in my opinion it was well worth the read.
Stacy on Goodreads.com, August 21, 2012:
4/5: “I’m a sucker for a great romance and Margaret of the North by E. Journey did not disappoint! I loved the language and the tone of the narrative as we continue on with the saga of Margaret and John’s life after the end of “North and South”. There were times where I thought the pacing slowed a bit too much for my liking, and there were some excessive details that I thought did little or nothing to add to the richness of the story. But other than the few places that I skimmed over I thought the story was absolutely wonderful and I especially appreciated how the author really made it her own…she wasn’t trying to duplicate the original, but created a wholly fresh spin-off that still maintained the delicious flavor of the original. Definitely recommend for fans of the series, and of historical fiction and romance.”
April on Goodreads.com, August 20, 2012:
3/5: “As I was reading “Margaret of the North”, I found myself feeling torn more than anything. On one hand I thought the writing to be lovely…E. Journey is skilled at weaving engaging prose. But on the other hand I kept feeling like I was always waiting for something to actually happen. I guess for me, there weren’t enough high stakes to provide the story with the tension that its predecessor had. While it’s nice to see Margaret rich and happy and in love, there are no imminent threats, no real dangers, no real conflicts that are seemingly impossible to overcome, yet they manage to do so. It just felt too safe. However, there were some riveting interpersonal dynamics that helped to fuel the story forward, but I felt for a novel of this size there should have been much more on an emotional impact that I can’t say I really felt. Still a wonderful book that I think the fans of North and South will enjoy.”
BellaReadz on Goodreads.com, August 19, 2012:
5/5: “A stunning piece of literary brilliance! Wow, it is not often where I am really impressed with the way an author writes (I usually care more about the plot and tend to shy away from the literary stuff), but this book was…for lack of a better word – beautiful. I loved the near-magical way that E. Journey strung sentences together that evoked such vivid imagery simply with words. Although I had never seen the miniseries “North and South” and was pretty unfamiliar with the plot, I never felt lost or confused as we are filled in on the character’s lives when the book opens. After that I was sucked in and thought that Margaret was an amazing character. I also thought the illustrations were a nice touch. This is not a light and easy read by any means, but fans of historical fiction and literary retellings should definitely grab it.”
Kaylee on Goodreads.com, August 16, 2012
4/5: “I’ve read so many stories that end just as they were getting “good”, meaning the hero/heroine finally resolve their differences; realize they are madly in love, only to have the book end. How many times I’ve wanted to know the story AFTER the story where we can enjoy the fruits of the lovelorn characters labors. But it is not without its risks…one has to wonder when people connect and fall in love amidst all the drama and turmoil, what will their lives be like once the dust has settled? Will it be blissful, or will it be boring? Well, yes…and yes. Admittedly once Margaret’s and John’s personal and professional drama is resolved (in the story “North and South”), their relationship takes a more mundane turn, which is a bit of a mixed blessing. As much as I enjoyed experiencing this new side of Margaret, I found myself yearning for more drama. For those looking for a beautifully written novel that will revisit a story you loved, then this novel is definitely for you.”
Karen “Reader Girl” on Goodreads.com, August 15, 2012:
4/5: “E. Journey wastes no time in setting the stage for her part 2 of “North and South” after John and Margaret realize they are in love and the rest of their life awaits them. This was a wonderful, well-written novel that truly captured my imagination and had me eagerly turning the pages. However, I thought that there were times where the narrative from the individual characters went on unnecessarily long, and was being “told” to me instead of having me experience their emotions first hand (telling v. showing). Because of this I felt a certain lack of intimacy with the characters that I would’ve much like to have. But I was still fascinated by the story and thought it to be well thought out and extremely polished. E. Journey is a talented writer and I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author in the future.”
Book Princess Sophia on Goodreads.com, August 13, 2012:
5/5: “Right away I was drawn into the rich and atmospheric world E. Journey described, and was instantly brought to another time and place and felt an immediate connection with the characters of Margaret and John. The author quickly and thoroughly brings us up to speed on the backstory, so it works great as a standalone novel for those unfamiliar with the body of work in which “Margaret” is inspired by. This is a deep and complex read, and one that cannot be rushed. It must be savored and enjoyed as we experience the life and new challenges John and Margaret must face.”