Despite my love of 'the classics' I'm ashamed to admit that until this I had never picked up anything by Elizabeth Gaskell. Now I have I can only regret not doing it sooner. To have this book in my life is an honour and I honour I intend to revisit many many times. Set in industrial England, this is ultimately a novel about conflict and rebellion. It is brimming with religious and social commentary that holds to this day. Gaskell's prose are just sublime. Her writing is thoughtful and in parts, simply beautiful. Her characters feel very real and very modern. John Thornton is quite probably one of the best literary heroes ever created andIf you pick only one book from my read list to read, I urge you to make it this one. North & South has easily taken it's place in my top 3 reads of all time. Shame on me for not finding it sooner.