This is a classic and there is nothing really new to say about it but I have revised the syllabus of one of the modules I teach and decided to include it because it matches well the topics and issues I want my students to explore as well other texts in the syllabus. The reception was far more positive than I expected and it was a refreshing addition to course.
I think Gaskell is a quite bold writer for the period. She doesn’t shy from dealing with the unconformable social and political issues of the time at the same time that she gives her readers space to take their own positions on them. Unlike Dickens, she avoids making her instance as the author obvious to the reader and even though she does try to find a compromise and marry ‘north and south’, we know that such marriage is volatile and full of underlining anxieties.
If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly recommend you do. Also check the BBC 2004 adaptation directed by Brian Percival and starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.
Gaskell, E. (1995) North and South. London: Penguin.