Trudy doesn’t know I’m doing this (well, okay, she does now) but I thought that since we’re talking about love and romance this month it would be a good time to review two of the most romantic North & South novels in the archive, Trudy’s own In Consequence and A Heart for Milton. I can’t remember which one I read first as fan works on Wattpad but to refresh my memory before writing this piece I read them in the order she’d published them.
Both of these books take a single moment from Gaskell’s original and reimagine the story from that point. She knows these characters well – their doubts, their fears, their secret longings – and their interior moments are the focus of her retellings. I loved reading Mr. Thorton’s thoughts as he readied himself the day of their wedding in A Heart for Milton. I loved reading Margaret’s debate with herself after she accepted his proposal in In Consequence. I loved the love letters they sent each other, I loved the choice of rings, I loved their getting to know each other as newlyweds. Trudy’s novels are breathtakingly romantic.
A Heart for Milton begins with Margaret’s visit to the Thorntons before she leaves Milton after the death of her father. She gives Mr. Thornton her father’s Plato as in the Gaskell but he decides to give her a small token in return, a copy of The Economy of Cotton. What he hides in its pages, and she discovers on her way to the train station, kicks off the plot. Together the lovers face the derision of others on each side of their match, Hannah Thornton and Aunt Shaw especially, and their devotion to one another grows. Margaret in particular discovers what she truly values in Mr. Thornton as she’s speaking in his defense to her London relatives (a still-smarting Henry makes an appearance, as well). Their wedding and their wedding trip are beautifully and sweetly told.
As In Consequence opens, Margaret remembers the conversation at Mr. Thornton’s dinner. The events of the day of the riot at Marlborough Mills are woven tightly together but spin off from the Gaskell when the rock thrown by Boucher hits a different target. The proposal in the wake of the riot plays out differently, and there are different players opposed to their match, but in this case they also have strong supporters in her parents. Margaret’s devotion to Mr. Thornton is tested early on by tragedy and she questions if she will ever come to love him as he loves her. Does she? You’ll have to read it to find out. If you are a fan of romance with a capital R, I highly recommend both of these books.
Jazzbaby1’s note: Trudy is my partner in this site and my friend. I’ve received no compensation for this piece and the copies of the books I worked from were purchased.