As a side note, this piece WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!
Margaret Hale is a nineteen-year-old woman who enjoys living in the South of England in the county of Hampshire. The sun shines, and the lands about are green and bright with flowers. Margaret is the daughter of Richard Hale, a clergyman of Helstone Parsonage, and her mother is Maria Hale. Everything seemed to be perfect according to Margaret, until one day, she received shocking news from her father: he was to leave the Church of England, due to doubts of his faith. Since the people from the South would know about him being a dissenter, they would mock and scorn him. To avoid such humiliations, the Hale family must move to the north of England, in the manufacturing town of Milton in the county of Darkshire. Margaret was shocked at such news, and did not understand why her father would leave the Church of England and move to the North. Mr. Hale claimed that it was for conscience’ sake. In the month of November, the family, along with their servant, Dixon, packed their bags and tearfully left their beloved home in the South.
A couple days later, the family reached the town of Milton. It was the complete opposite of Hampshire. The latter was bright, clean, and full of verdant valleys. Milton had mills, factories, and smoke. Mr. Bell, an old friend of the family, was a native of Milton, and agreed to help them search for a house and for a job for Mr. Hale. The family managed to find a house and settled there.
It was not easy for the Hales to get used to their new surroundings. Mrs. Hale became a ill due to the sudden change in environment. Despite this, the family met new people and became acquainted with them. One of these people is John Thornton, a cotton manufacturer. He would often visit the house to receive lessons from Mr. Hale, who found the job of teaching the classics and rhetoric. Meanwhile, Margaret became aware of the conditions of the town. Factory workers seemed miserable and poor, which convinced Margaret that the state of these people was terrible. She sympathized with them greatly and wished that she could do something about it. Among the workers are Nicholas Higgins and Bessy Higgins, with whom Margaret became friends with. While in the factory, cotton became stuck in Bessy’s lungs and she became sick, but that did not stop Margaret from visiting the Higgins family. She learned more about the workers’ conditions and found out that Nicholas and other workers are planning to throw a strike at the cotton manufacturers, because they did not give their employees sufficient pay.
Though John Thornton became acquainted with the Hales, Margaret did not like him. He criticized the South by saying that it was a dull place. Margaret, offended by his words, counteracted by saying that the North is a miserable place.
To make matters worse for the family, Mrs. Hale’s sickness increased and the family felt that she was at the point of death. She said that her dying request would be to see her son again before she dies. Frederick Hale had left England a couple of years ago and was accused of mutiny. He currently lives in Spain. If he were to return to England, government officials would seize him and hang him.
One day, Margaret had gone to Mr. Thornton’s house to borrow a water mattress for her ill mother. She picked the wrong time to go, for that was the day in which the workers would strike. The multitude of people, mostly young boys, assembled in front the home, driven mad with anger and hunger. Margaret, who felt pity for the workers, told John to go down to the rioters and face them like a man. She accompanied John to his balcony, for she knew that he was not safe alone. She had to protect him from the fierce crowd. Margaret tried to mollify the angry workers by saying that John is one man and they are many and that they should not use violence. John tried to protect Margaret from the workers by bidding her to go inside. Undaunted by the strikers, Margaret tried again to speak to them. She hardly finished two sentences when a man picked up a rock and directed it towards John. It missed and instead hit Margaret on her forehead and cheek. She fell almost unconscious in John’s arms. He was enraged at such cruelty. As soon as this happened, the police came and drove the angry mob of people away. John carried Margaret into his living room and went for a doctor. Mrs. Thornton, John’s mother, tended to Margaret’s wounds. Margaret became more conscious and pleaded that she returns back to her home, so that her parents will not worry about her. Mrs. Thornton reluctantly agreed to this idea and sent a cab driver to accompany her back.
The next day, Mr. Thornton came to Margaret’s house to express his gratitude for her protecting him from the rioters. When they were alone in a room, John proceeded to thank Margaret for her bravery. He went on to say that no woman had ever performed such a deed for him. He explained that he had great feelings for her. Margaret did not want to hear more, yet John continued to express his love for her. He said that he never loved a woman before in his life, as he was busy with work and other matters. He asked her to accept him, but she, offended by his words, rejected him. She only thought of him as her father’s friend. Her actions to him at the strike were not personal. John left the house truly broken-hearted and sad. It was because of this rejection that Margaret and John avoided each other at all costs and seldom spoke to each other. They were secretly mad at each other. However, they later regretted being irate, but they were too arrogant to talk and apologize to each other.
Margaret’s burdens were doubled when her mother was at death’s door. She wrote to her brother, Frederick, to come secretly to England so that he can see his mother for the last time. A stroke of luck hit the Hales, for one evening, Frederick clandestinely came to England without government officials noticing him. Mr. Hale and his two children were with Mrs. Hale when she passed away.
Before the funeral, Margaret had to accompany Frederick at night to a train station so that he can return to Spain safely. Before Frederick went aboard the train, one man recognized him. Frederick pushed the man down some flight of stairs so that he will not contact the government. As soon as that happened, Frederick went aboard on the train.
It was a couple days after Frederick’s departure that a police inspector came over to Margaret’s house to inquire her about the night Frederick left for Spain. He said that witnesses reported Margaret being with Frederick. The inspector asked whether she was with her brother that night. Margaret lied by saying that she was not. The inspector inquired her again, but she still denied the fact that she was with Frederick. Margaret later felt guilty for her misdeed, but she had to save her brother’s life. She did not want to lose another family member.
After Mrs. Hale’s funeral, Mr. Hale decided to go to Oxford alone to visit the family friend, Mr. Bell. Margaret let him go to the city, for she thought it would be good for him. However, the visit turned out to be very different from what she had expected. Margaret bore the fact that her father died in his sleep while in Oxford. Now, she was left alone with her servant, Dixon, penniless. It was decided that Margaret moves back to the South. Mr. Bell and her aunt came to Milton to take Margaret back to her home, while Dixon stays at the home to take care of the furniture and the like. She said farewell to the Thornton family and to the Higgins family. She found out that Bessy, one of her few friends in Milton, had died from her sickness. It was heartbreaking for Margaret to say goodbye to the dear family, but she had little choice.
In the South Margaret revisited Helstone Parsonage, her home. She lived with her relatives in London. She thought that she should start anew with her life. It was not so. Much to her surprise, Mr. Thornton visited her and her relatives. She did not understand why John had come. When she was alone in a room, John approached her and asked her to marry him. Margaret realized that she did love him and it was decided by the two that they should get married.
REACTION: How I loved this book! Everything about it was awesome. The descriptions especially were fabulous. Oh, the emotion, the pain, the heartbreak, THE ENDING!!! *fangirling* 10 OUT OF 10!!
BBC made an adaptation of this in 2004, and I LOVED it. (I recommend reading the book first before watching the show. Just sayin'). I cried when I recently watched it. I cried, laughed, cringed. There were "aww" moments for sure, especially the last scene. Let me just say that I fangirl over this show like crazy. Everything about the adaptation was perfect. The acting, the costumes, the scenery, the characters (especially Mr. Thornton), the music, EVERYTHING! I highly recommend the book and the show. You will not regret it. It now holds a special place in my heart........
Ok, I have to stop fangirling now. :) ;D