Nowhere But North

Nowhere But North is a character driven book that uses flashbacks to enlighten the reader about the life events that shaped the characters personalities. It starts with what appears to be a forced marriage scenario, which is not only shocking but also innovative in the north and south variations genre, and it develops into a heart whelming love story of two newlyweds who are still learning about what married life is all about. The main story will alternate with chronological flashbacks that will transport the reader into the past to witness several marking events that contributed to the characters development, and allow him to better understand each character.

It is not easy to go back in time and remain truthful to characters who were created by another author, let alone show us how their personalities developed, and the fact that every single flashback was pure perfection in the North and South realm shows a deep character knowledge, and a writing skill that very few have. In fact, I believe only a couple of authors would be able to write such a perfect North and South Variation, which is in my opinion as good as Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South in terms of character development. Had I not known these flashbacks were written by Nicole Clarkston, I could have easily believed that Gaskell had written them herself considering they are perfectly in line with the characters she created.

I have always been fascinated by John Thornton’s life and this book was the first to give me the pleasure of reading about it. I had always been curious about his father and his childhood, about his journey from a teenager into adulthood, I always wanted to know how he made it, how he became a Mill Master after everything that happened to him, and thanks to this book I was finally transported into the past and made the wonderful journey of his life alongside with him. I witnessed him in his worst moments, I felt his struggles and insecurities and now I feel I understand this man even better and respect him all the more because of it. His life story is so interesting that it deserves a place in a North and South variation book and Nicole Clarkston did a wonderful job at making that happen.

Apart from the profound character knowledge Nicole Clarkston demonstrated with this book, venturing into flashbacks alternated with real time events showed a tremendous writing talent. Nicole Clarkston certainly knows how to write a beautiful story with interesting and complex characters while maintaining it clean, and captivating the reader at the same time. The transitions into and from the flashbacks are absolutely perfect, with the scene of a chapter being somehow connected to the scene in the next chapter, even it that scene is happening several years later. It takes true talent and courage to craft such a complex story the way Nicole Clarkston did and she deserves to be praised for such a magnificent work.

I loved the initial scenes between Margaret and John, when they were still afraid to let their emotions be known, but also decide to be honest with one another. I am clearly an angsty type of person and books with angst are usually my favourite, but it was nice to see that in this book no unnecessary angst was present. The characters already had too much to overcome in their life so it was nice to see that, at least amongst them, there were no unnecessary misunderstandings. Nicole Clarkston knew how to perfectly balance the emotions in this book, making sure they were realistic, but taking care not to make the story too dark, the result was an incredible book that made my heart ache at times and tears come to my eyes, but which also made me smile with the tenderness that was emanating from the pages. Margaret and John’s love was pure and stout and it was a joy to see how their companionship grew with each page that I turned and how passionate they both were about one another.

It is hard to say what I enjoyed the most about this book because I loved it all, the character insight and development, the writing style, the flashbacks, John Thornton, their relationship, the romance, the secondary characters and how it all came into place, John Thornton (I know I already mentioned him, but the character is so swoon worthing that I have to mention him twice), the balance, etc.

I am completely rendered to this story and I honestly consider this is the best North and South variation book I’ve ever read. I loved both No Such Thing as Luck and Northern Rain from this author, but I believe that with Nowhere But North Nicole Clarkston took the stakes into a completely different level. This book is a masterpiece that should not be missed by anyone who enjoys good literature and I highly recommend it to all readers.

P.S – I have to talk about the cover!!! Isn’t it beautiful? To me it looks absolutely perfect! It reflects exactly the story and environment we will find in the book. We can feel the tenderness between the characters in it and the entire setting transported me to the books scenes. The detail of the compass inside the O, and which we will see separating the chapters inside the book, is the cherry on top of the cake! It is my favourite cover from Janet Taylor so far, and I’ve loved them all 🙂


You can find Nowhere But North at:


Filed under 5 stars, JAFF, Nicole Clarkston, North and South

16 responses to “Nowhere But North

  1. Michelle H

    Hello Rita. When I purchase a book (but haven’t read yet,) that I’ve been anticipating for a long time, I hesitate to read reviews because I don’t want to spoil enjoyment of reading all the wonderful stuff for myself. You did a great job on the review because If I was on the fence about getting this book I would be sold! But you didn’t reveal any spoilers. Good for you (and us.)

    I loved Nicole’s other N&S variations and have listened to the audios too, repeatedly. What an amazing, talented writer. Nicole is such a gift to the genres she writes for. JAFF, and N&SFF. Oh my gosh. Thanks again for a great review.


  2. Jan Hahn

    What a superb review, Rita! I’ve been looking forward to this book, and your review made my anticipation grow. I, too, think Nicole is one of the best writers in the N&S and JAFF genres. I’m thrilled to learn you consider this her best N&S variation. Kudos to Janet Taylor for the wonderful cover. Her work just gets better and better.


  3. Sophia Rose

    Oh, this sounds sensational. I love the way she gets readers to really feel her stories.


  4. J. W. Garrett

    I loved this review. No Such Thing As Luck was my first N&S fan fiction. I have Northern Rain but haven’t read it yet. Nowhere But North… simply blew me away. I read a rough copy and fell in love with it. I am still moved by many of the scenes you described. Man… this was fabulous. Thanks for hosting.


  5. Like Jeanne, I had the great good fortune to read this before publication and it blew me away, too! Your review is just wonderful, Rita. You give enough information to tempt people without giving away any spoilers. Personally, I’d say it was reasonably high on the angst-o-meter scale but then I love stories with angst. As well as the flashbacks to john’s youth, I loved reading about Margaret’s childhood, especially her relationship with her brother and the events that led to his exile. Anyone who reads this will definitely fall in love with the young John Thornton!

    Janet’s cover is just so perfect, isn’t it?


  6. caroleincanada

    What a fabulous review Rita!!! Due to you and my love of the BBC ‘North & South’ adaptation, I read Elizabeth Gaskell’s book last year. I had already read ‘Wives & Daughters’ and seen the adaptation which I loved. I have recently purchased ‘No Such Thing as Luck’ as you and several others have praised it (plus I love everything I have read so far by the ever talented Ms. Clarkston) and plan to read it in the near future. As for ‘Nowhere But North’, I have read it and hope to write my review very soon…I was blown away! The cover is amazing and depicts beautifully what is written within the covers.


  7. Rita,
    Thank you so much for your exquisite review! You quite took me by surprise! What a lovely way you have of expressing your thoughts about the book. I owe you a debt of gratitude for helping plant that idea after the “Honourable Man” sketch two years ago, and look where it led me!

    I am so touched by those who have reviewed the book and loved John and Margaret as much as I do. They had so much to overcome, and at times I wanted to just lock them in a room together! It turns out that wounded people are not always rational… who knew?

    Thank you to everyone who has supported this book through conception, editing, and launch. It was a labor of love, and I am deeply grateful.


  8. Glynis

    Oh Rita, what a lovely, moving review. I’m sad to say that although I have her other two N&S books I haven’t read them yet. However after reading this I think I must buy Nowhere but North and read it first.
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.


  9. Janet Taylor

    You wrote such a beautiful and good review, Rita. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. You captured the essence of the book without giving any spoilers. Quite impressive. This is such a good book, and I loved every page. Nicole is an exceptionally talented author. She gets into the “feel” of her characters and makes them real.

    Thank you for your wonderful comments on the cover. I’m thrilled you love it. I have to give my son credit for the picture on the front cover. Nicole found a painting that she felt closely fit the storyline. There were some changes that needed to be made to it, before it would work, so we decided to let Jeff try his hand at it. I sent him the painting and asked him to see what kind of 3D render he could that would be similar to the tone and setting of the painting. I created Margaret’s dress from several “patterns and fabrics” and this is the final result. That you think it beautiful, perfect, reflects exactly the story and environment, well, those are the things that are music to my ears. The color scheme, everything, was chosen for that purpose. The compass for the “o”, that was the first thing I did! 🙂 Glad you liked it! I knew I wanted to do that from the very beginning.

    Okay, I’ve rambled on but most of all, for as wonderful as this book is, the cover had to wrap it up as best I could. Thank you for your support.


  10. Wow! What a great recommendation!



  11. Wonderful review, Rita! What a fabulous book, I loved it soooo much! Same here, best N&S variation I’ve ever read. Thanks for the happy hours, Nicole!


  12. Fantastic review. I also read and loved this book. Love that man!


  13. Jennifer Redlarczyk

    Love the interview, the cover is awesome, and I just started reading this book which I absolutely LOVE! Best wishes Nicole!


  14. Pingback: From Pemberley to Milton’s 2018 Favourite Books | From Pemberley to Milton

  15. Pingback: North & South Top 5 Variations with giveaways | From Pemberley to Milton

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.