Common Ground is a continuation of the BBC 2004 adaptation of North and South, and starts right after the epic train station scene. As always I was thrilled to read more about the trip to Milton and John and Margaret’s lives, especially because Common Ground proved to be a very balanced paced book which kept my attention from the beginning until the end.
Unlike many novels that are mainly focused on John and Margaret’s relationship, or the working classes’ struggles, Common Ground actually gives a lot of relevance to the difficulties faced by the masters, namely the effects speculation had on their business. I personally thought it was interesting to see the author explore the topic of speculation itself instead of just mentioning it, the historical research behind this idea and its transposition to the book made this a very unique variation. Also, the fact that it’s not the workers but the masters facing difficulties made this story particularly different and refreshing as in a twist of events the masters need to come together and unite their efforts to save their business, with Thornton assuming a main role, of course :). I will not go into much detail because I don’t want to spoil the book, but it is indeed a very different storyline.
I highly appreciated the focus on these topics but on the other hand I also felt that the moments between John and Margaret were not enough, and I did miss the romance between these two characters. Even so, the epilogue was satisfying and I liked seeing what happened to the cotton mills and our beloved characters, especially John Thornton 🙂
Another change in this book was Hanna Thornton’s character who was not portrayed as an overbearing mother and cold distant mother in law. Curiously enough, in Common Ground the anti-hero role is delegated to Fanny who is shown to be an irrational girl posing many problems to our couple.
Margaret’s family was not the cause for many troubles, but they were against the wedding and even though this is something I would expect to see in a N&S variation, it doesn’t happen very frequently, so once again Elaine Owen surprised me on the creativity of her plot and character development. And speaking of characters, Dixon is absent during the majority of the book and is only briefly mentioned in the end of it, isn’t that different? Honestly, I’m not very fond of this character, so when at 60% of the book I realized she was not there, I truly liked it 🙂
This was the first North and South book Elaine Owen released, and I hope she continues to write books on this category because Common Ground was indeed a different and original book with a lot of creativity in the narrative.
Common Ground is available at:
Amazon.com – Common Ground
Amazon.co.uk – Common Ground
Elaine Owen is stopping by at From Pemberley to Milton next week for an interview on her P&P and N&S works, so if your curious, don’t miss the opportunity to get to know her a little better.