I could not be happier when I was told Nicole Clarkston had released a new North and South variation novel, so I bought it immediately and from the moment I started reading it I could not put it down. Nicole Clarkston sure knows how to captivate readers with a stunning beginning!
Northern Rain begins on a cold rainy day with Mr. Thornton visiting his father’s graveside on the anniversary of his death. He is heartbroken thinking of Margaret and what he lost, when the lady herself passes by and, seeing a sad Mr. Thornton on the rain, decides to be kind and offers him protection under his umbrella. In this initial scene they do not communicate with verbal words, but much is said and perceived. I absolutely love when and author makes me feel the intensity of the characters feelings without even making them say a word, and that is precisely what happens in this intense and emotional scene. On their walk home Margaret tries to clear her name and reputation in Mr. Thornton’s eyes as this story is set after Mrs. Hale’s death, and this is the first step for a growing friendship between them, that will obviously turn into an angst filled romance very soon.
This small change in the plot will have some important impacts: Mr. Thornton begins to wonder about Margaret’s indiscretion, Mr. Hale has John’s company and with Margaret’s support and medical intervention survives, and Margaret’s love and admiration for Mr. Thornton begins much sooner in the story.
However that does not mean that all the angst, tribulations, internal and external struggles will not come in the way of John and Margaret, by the contrary. The story has villains we will not see coming, and subplots that are a page turner until the end.
I believe Nicole Clarkston has an incredible knowledge of Gaskell’s characters and that is shown in this book. Mr. Thornton and Margaret’s characters are so true to themselves, so well developed that I believe Gaskell herself could have written this story. He is honorable, just, strong and vulnerable at the same time and she is independent, and also strong and vulnerable in different ways, just as Elizabeth Gaskell portrayed them.
Dixon is the same grumpy person, Hanna Thornton remains herself but we get to know her a little better as she is exposed to new situations. In fact, Hanna’s reaction at the drapers store is absolutely perfect and in accordance to the character. It also allowed us to know that Margaret would have an ally in Mrs. Thornton once she realizes that this is the woman who will make her son happy. The consequences of her reaction made this book an agreeable read and it gave us a glimpse of a brighter future in the Thornton household.
Fanny remains the silly creature we know her to be but in this book we also get to see a little more of Watson, and he reveals himself as an insecure besotted man. This was an interesting addition as these secondary characters are not always approached or developed. Watson remains a minor character, but the fact that Nicole Clarkston decided to let us know more about him, and many other characters was definitely a plus.
The new characters were also essential to the success of the book. Even though I love North and South, there is not a lot of variety in terms of characters and that makes it especially hard for writers to create new scenarios. But Nicole Clarkston had a perfect equilibrium between the canon story and its own characters and new characters who gave a new life to Milton’s society and made this new plot possible with all its trials.
I felt Mrs. Clarkston brought the best there is to offer in a Jane Austen novel and added it to Gaskell’s already rich prose. This was a risk but perfectly executed. All relevant aspects of North and South were kept by the author, but the reading became more light, pleasing and romantic. Thornton’s reaction when he discovered who Frederick is was so genuine and passionate that I could not stop reading. And then all the kitchen moments followed and I felt myself swoon with the romance and intimacy in it! Of course the tea set present was the cherry on top of the cake for me 🙂
I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this book, and can only hope the author releases a new N&S variation soon. The vignettes posted during the blog tour had me craving for more 🙂
I could not end this review without mentioning the cover. Isn’t it just absolutely marvelous? I have said several times that I love Janet Taylor’s covers, and this one is just another pearl she has created 🙂
You can find Northern Rain on:
***It’s giveaway time***
Apart from being a great author, Nicole Clarkston is a very generous person and she would like to, once more, offer one of her books to my readers.
You can choose any of Nicole Clarkston’s books and even the format!
Let us know what you think about Northern Rain, if you ever read anything from Nicole Clarkston, and of course, which book and format you prefer. You can choose the e-book, paperback or audible.
For more information on the different formats available for each book please see the links below:
The giveaway is international and is open until the 29th of August.
Good luck everyone!