Tag Archives: Richard Armitage

Interview with Trudy Brasure & Giveaway

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Hello everyone,

As you must have noticed, last week I returned from my holidays and posted a review on In Consequence, a North and South variation by Trudy Brasure. But before going on holidays, I also told you that this month From Pemberley to Milton would have a lot of surprises with interviews, guests post and giveaways so, today I am happy to share with you an interview with author Trudy Brasure.

If you already know Mrs. Brasure I hope you find this interview interesting, and in case you don’t, I hope it makes you curious about her and her work. She is one of the biggest supporters of North and South discussion groups as well as one of the most known authors of N&S fan fiction, and I was very happy to receive her in my blog.

 

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Interview with Trudy Brasure

When was your first contact with Gaskell’s work and what captivated you about it?

I stumbled upon the BBC’s adaptation of “North and South” in October 2009. It was a pivotal event for me. I’d never heard of Elizabeth Gaskell before. Richard’s performance of the lonely and misunderstood John Thornton was utterly riveting. I don’t think I’d ever seen a romantic hero as vulnerable as Thornton was during that profoundly moving scene with his mother the night before he proposed. The intensity of emotion in this love story is amazing. Both Margaret and John are striving so hard to do what is right in life, and they’re holding their families up — yet they’re really both quite alone.

 

 

know you are not alone in being captivate by Armitage’s performance. Do you think he is the biggest reponsible for North and South’s success?

I do think that Richard Armitage’s performance of John Thornton is the single most compelling factor in the BBC’s 2004 production of “North and South.”  Gaskell’s story is unique in its exquisite description of Thornton’s anguish, and Armitage is able to brilliantly convey all this intense emotion — often without even saying a word!

Armitage has brought thousands to Gaskell’s great story, and I’m immensely grateful he was chosen for that role. It was perfection. However, I must add that this particular BBC production was a masterpiece in every way. The screenplay, the cast, the cinematography, the setting, and the music all combined to make this mini-series truly stunning. And Gaskell’s story is well worth the attention and praise. Her themes are still very relevant to today’s problems.

 

Why did you decide to write North and South fan fiction?
I couldn’t stop thinking about the heartache Margaret and John went through in Gaskell’s story. I was convinced that if they had only known that the other was in love with them at that terrible good-bye scene when Margaret leaves Milton, they could have avoided a painful year apart. So I began to image a scenario in which they could be brought together much sooner. I spent days and weeks thinking about the exact circumstancs and dialogue.

I had discovered the glorious world of fan fiction at C19 since my discovery of “North and South,” so I knew that people wrote their own version of what happened to Margaret and John in sequels and variations.

The story unfolding in my mind was becoming so clear, I knew I wanted to try to write it out. Thank goodness for C19! It was a lovely place to try my hand at writing fiction.

 

C19 is definitly heaven for any North and South fans. When did you know it was time to go from writing in C19 to publishing a book?

I never thought of publishing my story when I wrote it. But then a fellow C19 member suggested I post “A Heart for Milton” at Wattpad.com, and I found that my story had a much broader appeal than I ever imagined. It gave me confidence that I had written something special. Sometime later I began to notice how many Austen stories were being self-published, and I saw that there was one “North and South” variation being sold at Amazon. I really wanted to share my story with as many “North and South” fans as possible, so it wasn’t long before I decided to try self-publishing. It’s been a wonderful experience – even the bad reviews. They’ve helped me understand how others see Gaskell’s story.

 

Both your books are variations from the original story, do you have a particular preference for this genre or can we expect a sequel, prequel or diferente POV in the future?
I love taking one moment from the original story and changing it to see how everything unravels in a completely new way. I love putting the characters in new situations to see how they would react.

I don’t think I can ever write a straight sequel. I adore writing the angst involved when Thornton is still uncertain of Margaret’s love. Tortured Thornton is just too delicious to avoid.

My current work in progress takes a twist in a whole new place, far from the middle of Gaskell’s work. I seem to keep creeping further and further toward earlier chapters with my variations.

Posts under progress3

You’ve got me really curious about your new work, what else can you tell us about it?

As I mentioned, I love to make one twist in the story and explore how it would change events and the interaction between the characters. I don’t want to give too much away, but my basic question for this new variation is: what if the circumstances and setting of John and Margaret’s first encounter were different?

 

Both in A Heart for Milton and In Consequence we see a lot of romantic scenes, but we are also presented with a portrait of Victorian society. Did you need to do a lot of research to write these books?

I was reading everything I could about Abraham Lincoln before I happened upon Gaskell’s story. So I had already been immersed in the Victorian world for some time. I’ve always loved the Victorian Era. But yes, I did much research to try to portray something of the reality of that time and place. I also learned a great deal about Victorian society and mannerisms from the “North and South” discussions archived at C19.

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Have you ever imagined a variation where Bessy wouldn’t die? How do you think that could impact the story?

I can’t say I’ve ever thought about saving Bessy from her fate. It seems like she’s already quite ill by the time Margaret meets her. If Bessy hadn’t died, Margaret wouldn’t have been so friendless. Bessy would have loved watching Margaret become Thornton’s wife. Then Bessy would surely have been invited at some time to dine at Marlborough Mills!

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Apart from John and Margaret, which is the character that you mostly like to write and develop?

I really enjoy developing Hannah. Outwardly, she has such a tough shell. But there is a warmth underneath that I love drawing out. It would be interesting to write her history. But I don’t think I’ll ever get around to that!

I also love writing Higgins and Mr Bell with elements of their insight and humor.

 

You say Hanna has a warmth underneath that you love drawing out, but I’ve seen a couple versions who portray her as an evil person. Why do you think she is so controverse amongst readers and writers?

Hannah Thornton truly is something of a complicated character. She’s a bit like her son: tough outer shell, but tender inside. However, her tender side is hidden much more deeply than John’s. I think the misunderstanding concerning Hannah comes from the tendency to see only the surface of the character – the crusty, unsmiling part. Also I’d have to say that it would be difficult to truly comprehend Hannah by just viewing the mini-series. If you haven’t studied the book, you will probably miss the hints that show us that Hannah actually admires Margaret’s strength, spirit, and honesty. The only thing that she dislikes about Margaret is that Margaret looks down on her son and hurts him. Once she sees how much Margaret truly admires and adores her son, I think she will grow to appreciate Margaret. Even if she can’t be first in John’s life anymore!

(Hannah is a subject I’m eager to explore someday at my new blog: MoreThanThornton.com)

 

It is impossible to think of North and South without thinking of Richard Armitage. Many people claim he would be perfect for a Mr. Darcy role, but for me Armitage will always be Thornton and Firth will always be Darcy. What are your thoughts on it?
I have to confess that I watched and read “North and South” first before watching and reading “Pride and Prejudice.” It was “North and South” that ignited my interest in period dramas and classic romantic literature. So I can’t say I was ever firmly in love with Darcy since Thornton is my first love. No one can beat Richard’s performance, however. He has defined John Thornton for the screen probably for at least a half century.

If I could pick a classic role for Armitage, I’d have to choose Mr. Rochester. Richard is brilliant at making you feel the pain of his characters. And I think Rochester is a good man in a very hard place. Richard would make us sympathize with this dark, mysterious character. (But I also think Toby Stephens already did an incredible job with this role.)

 

Is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

I’d have to share my surprise in finding out that not all fans of “North and South” interpret Gaskell’s story in the same way. My guess is that most Austen fans generally agree on the basic themes and character development of “Pride and Prejudice.” But there are varying views on Gaskell’s messages and her character development, including those that feel that the author was unable to bring the story’s conflicts to a satisfying conclusion.

I’m always eager to share my perspective of Gaskell’s wonderful, well-developed story — which I see in a very positive light. That’s one of the overiding reasons I started my own North and South blog: MoreThanThornton.org
But mostly, I just love discussing “North and South” with people! There’s so much in the book to explore.

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To all my portuguese speaking readers, I bring some news. A Heart For Milton was finally translated to portuguese!!!

As you can see in the picture, Trudy Brasure is holding a copy of Um Coração por Milton.

The book is currently available for sale in Brazil, but I’m confidente it will reach portuguese bookshops very shortly 🙂

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It’s giveaway time!!!

Trudy Brasure would like to offer one copy of In Consequence, e-book or paperback (winner’s choice) to our readers at From Pemberley to Milton.

The giveaway is international and to participate all you have to do is place your own questions to Trudy or just share your kind words and love with her by leaving a comment on this post.

The giveaway is open until the 17th of March and the lucky winner will be randomly picked and announced on the 19th of March.

Good luck everyone, and I hope you enjoyed the interview!!!

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North and South: 10 Ways the Film Is Not Like the Book

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Hello Dear Readers,

I know you all love North and South, but do you love the book, the BBC adaptation or both?

Have you ever wondered about their differences?

Today I’m receiving a very special guest at From Pemberley to Milton to explain some of the differences between Elizabeth Gaskell’s book and the BBC adaptation.

Trudy Brasure has become a specialist in North and South and written 2 fan fiction books about it, one of them, In Consequence, is a favourite of mine and I will post the review in the upcoming weeks.

I hope you like her post 🙂

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I fell in love with the BBC’s adaptation of North and South first. And then, I slowly fell in love with Elizabeth Gaskell’s book as well. I’m a firm believer that you can love both, despite the inevitable discrepancies between the two forms of art. Here are some of the main differences I see between the film and the book from my perspective as one who reaches for her book when needing a dose of Thornton.

 

#1 The first meeting between John and Margaret

Hands down, this is the most dramatic and damaging alteration the screenwriter makes from the original source. A stormy confrontation in a frenetic setting completely upends the book’s version in which an outwardly calm exchange takes place between the newly arrived Southern girl and the Milton master in a sitting room of a hotel.

The damage? It paints Thornton as a volatile man, which is very far from the man of great self-control and self-discipline that Gaskell takes pains to describe in the book. (I’ve written about Thornton’s ‘temper’ here)

But I understand the reasons the film needed something more drastic to make Margaret’s disdain for Thornton more understandable for the modern audience. Margaret’s Victorian prejudice against a workingman like Thornton is too subtle for film. And the setting of a quiet room is not very exciting. However, I cringe at the violence we witness from Thornton. I’m convinced just grabbing Stephens and unceremoniously throwing him out of the mill would have been violent enough to shock Margaret’s sensibilities.

 

#2 Missing history of Margaret’s life in Helstone

In order to get the story rolling in Milton, the mini-series largely skips over the first 6 chapters of the book – chapters that let us get to know Margaret. Left on the cutting room floor is a significant part of what happened to our young heroine on a beautiful day in October when her entire world imploded.

On the very same day Henry proposes – the day that marks the end of her childhood as she had known it — her father drops the bombshell of his decision to leave his position and move to Milton, which shatters all the comfort and security Margaret clings to in her concept of home. The emotional anguish Margaret endures and the responsibility she shoulders during her remaining days in Helstone is only hinted at in the film.

And by the way, Mrs. Hale wasn’t happy in Helstone. Milton is just another reason to keep complaining – aided and abetted by the loyal Dixon.

 

#3 Henry and the Great Exhibition showdown

Although the lethal glares and verbal sparring between Henry and John at the Great Exhibition makes exquisite drama on film, such an exchange between the two suitors never took place in the book. The scene is a brilliant invention by the screenwriter, allowing the viewer to see the vivid contrast between Southern arrogance and sophistication and the Northern practical, earnest pride. Not only that, but the scene also works as a great device for showing us Margaret’s growing admiration for John and her new home — Milton. Throw in the historical setting of the Great Exhibition of 1851 — one of the England’s proudest moments, and this particular scene ranks as my favorite screenplay invention.

 

#4 Dinner party argument

The book has Margaret arguing with Thornton several times in the privacy of the Hales’ home. She isn’t so brazen as to chew out the host of an elegant dinner party in front of his own guests. But the public scorching does make good film drama, doesn’t it? Ann Latimer’s finishing school training would never have allowed her to do such an atrocious thing.

 

#5 Ann Latimer, the silent contender

And speaking of Ann…. There is no Ann Latimer in Gaskell’s book. Maybe this is why she doesn’t speak a word in the film. The mute but comely Ann serves her purpose well. She’s living proof that Hannah isn’t kidding when she boasts that her son is the catch of the town. Whenever Ann appears, we see Margaret’s uncomfortable reaction.

And the viewer is also expected to notice that John has no real interest Ann Latimer, even though she is finishing-school-perfect and mother-approved.

 

#6 Hannah in the mill

Nowhere does the book ever mention Hannah going to the mill. She wasn’t a dragon overseer of the business at all. It wasn’t her place to be physically involved in such work, although we know she was avidly interested in her son’s business and dealings.

Margaret never steps foot in the mill either. As a matter of fact, there aren’t really any scenes in the book that take place in the clanking, noisy cotton factory.

Adding mill scenes was essential in the film adaptation. The viewer absolutely needed to see the vivid reality of the world John lived in day in and day out. The moment Margaret slides that door open to enter his realm is unforgettable filmmaking magic.

 

#7 The sly and sprightly Mr Bell

You’ll be relieved to know that Mr. Bell doesn’t suggest matrimony to Margaret in the book. He does mention, however, that he would love to have Margaret as his caretaker or his charge. Mr. Bell’s character is used much the same in the book as in the film, he is perceptive of both Margaret’s value as a unique and strong woman and the mutual “something” going on between John and Margaret.

Unfortunately, the wealthy godfather doesn’t sail off to sunny Argentina in the book. He dies. Of gout. Yes, he’s described as portly in the book. But portly or lithe, I love Mr. Bell for his wit, his keen eye, and his appreciation for Margaret and Thornton.

 

#8 The bond between Mr Hale and Thornton

The relationship between John and the man who should have been his father-in-law is especially endearing as described in the book. The film only hints at this special friendship that developed between teacher and pupil. We don’t see anything of how John is a rock of spiritual strength to Mr. Hale in his grief after Mrs. Hale dies. (Margaret notices this gentle and profound side of Mr. Thornton’s character.) I miss this deeper aspect of the relationship between the two most important men in Margaret’s life.

 

#9 Bessy and religion

Gaskell was a compassionate Unitarian, married to a Unitarian minister. She put Christian morality into all her books. Bessy speaks a lot about God and looks forward to a happier afterlife. Margaret reads from the Bible to Bessy. Mr. Hale and Higgins talk of God in their exchange. Margaret is a devout follower of the Church of England who worries about her father’s breach with the church, and her brother’s marriage to a Catholic. The Thorntons do not attend the Church of England.

The harmonizing undertones of bringing characters of varying Christian faith together is mostly lost in the film. Glossing over the religious stuff is probably the modern way, but we lose something of the Victorian reality in skipping it.

 

#10 The train station ending

The ending of the BBC’s North and South is legendary. And rightfully so. If there were a hall of fame for screen kisses, then Richard Armitage would be venerated there for decades. I don’t think there’s anything to beat The Kiss. It’s pure romantic heaven to watch the tension and misunderstandings of 4 episodes melt into the blissful, tender connection on that station bench.

But, as most people know, Margaret and John don’t meet at the train station in the book, and they certainly don’t seal their final understanding of each other’s feelings by a kiss in public – scandalous behavior! Gaskell’s ending has Thornton come to London, and the final pages place the lovers in a back drawing room – without Henry’s disapproving eyes on them!

Yes, the film ending is breath-taking and brilliant. The range of emotions shown in a matter of moments, the symbolism of finding each other at a half-way point, the open-collar of a man usually tied and bound by his routine, the drama of making a final choice at the sound of the whistle – it all makes the scene exquisite and rich with meaning. And I haven’t even taken into account the acting! I could never condemn the ending, it’s a gift to the world of romantic period drama. It’s a vision etched in the mind and hearts of those fortunate enough to have watched it.

Yet, I love the book ending, too. Line by line, it’s packed with more trembling passion than the film’s final scene. And then there is Thornton on his knees, a silent body-to-body embrace, a brief mutual apology, and some sweet playfulness that leads to a private kiss of unspecified duration. Sigh.

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***Author bio***

1446433210076Trudy Brasure is the author of A Heart for Milton, one of the most well-loved continuation stories based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s work. She is known throughout the worldwide community of avid North and South fans for her knowledge of and insights on Gaskell’s story and characters. She has spent the past six years actively discussing and studying North and South and other Victorian literature.

As a hopeless romantic and an fervent enthusiast for humanity’s progress, she loves almost nothing more than to engage in discussion about North and South.

You can find out more about Trudy and her work at:

http://www.morethanthornton.com/

If you are curious about her books, you can find them at Amazon on the links below:

 

A Heart for Milton: A Tale from North and South

In Consequence: A Retelling of North and South


 

And if you still do not own a copy of the BBC adaptation, you can always find it here:

North and South (BBC)

 

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