Margaret is intelligent, independent-minded, and passionate about her own concerns. But how does she carve a niche and an identity for herself within the repressive constraints of Victorian society? This sequel to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South takes off from the concluding scene in its retelling on the BBC miniseries. It is a Victorian feminist bildungsroman (coming-of-age novel) couched in romance.
Gaskell wrote Margaret Hale as a character blossoming into one who did not fit the mold of the typical woman of her time. She exudes a natural self-assurance and a brooding intelligence that butts itself against John Thornton, the virile alpha male who is, nevertheless, vulnerable.
Margaret of the North focuses on how Margaret whittles away at Victorian repression—both self-imposed or socially-dictated. She marries John Thornton and confronts not only her place in a rapidly changing society but also her growing awareness of her persona as a woman with compelling sexual, familial, and self-actualizing needs. One who wants a voice and makes a mark.
The romance is not only in the love between John and Margaret but also in the adventure and excitement Margaret undergoes as she discovers herself, a journey that happens quietly and mostly internally.