After much urging and fawning from Ana, and seeing the impressive Crusade on Kristie’s Ramblings on Romance campaign, I ordered the miniseries online and finally got a chance to watch it this weekend.
Holy crow, it is everything I could want and then some.
I’ve always been a fan of BBC miniseries, although nothing has ever come quite so close to the OG Pride and Prejudice miniseries from many years back. North and South is most certainly up to P&P caliber television.
I could not tear myself away from the tv to save my life. Both lead actors were perfection onscreen. Richard Armitage was captivating (and ridiculously yummy) as Mr. Thornton–a cotton mill master that not only worked his way up from the bottom, but is proud and firm handed with little tolerance for nonsense. Daniela Denby-Ashe shines as the beautiful and idealistic southerner Margaret Hale. The slow, at points painful, romance that unfolds between these two is breathtaking. It is obvious from their first meeting that there is an attraction between them, but their different ways and prejudices (being from the North and South) separates them (not to mention a slew of other obstacles).
The outstanding, electric romance aside, the series did a masterful job of portraying the incredible divide between the industrious north and the affluent, romanticized south. The scenes in the cotton mill, the reality of strikes and unions, the bleakness and cold chill of working life, it was all represented with flair and an authenticity that is hard to find. I especially loved the tensions equally represented on both sides of the worker/master strike–the union wasn’t seen as infallible in its ideals, nor were the masters show in a romanticized light. Both sides had valid pros and cons, and I was happy to see this smartly portrayed in the series.
Furthermore, all the secondary characters in this series only solidify my admiration. The lock-jawed and kinda creepy in a sort of Oedipal way character of Mrs. Thornton (John’s mother) is given life and dimension by the talented Sinead Cusack. Another important and fleshed out character is that of the union leader Nicholas played by the wonderfully passionate and charismatic Brendan Coyle.
Heck, even the SCORE is brilliant.
Like Ana before me, I also must highly recommend this series to everyone. Not just to the romantics (though the romance is wonderful!), but to everyone that loves a good story, good history, and quality acting.