Trudy Brasure has spent the past six years studying and discussing North and South and Victorian literature. She is also known worldwide to the avid North and South fans for her knowledge of and insights of Gaskell's story and characters. In her post today, she shares with us why she loves John Thornton and Elizabeth Gaskell. I think you will love her reasons. I did!
Please join me as I welcome Trudy Brasure to More Agreeably Engaged. She has a great giveaway too!
|Available on Amazon|
|Available on Amazon|
Loving Mr. Thornton (and Gaskell) with Trudy Brasure
Thanks to Janet for this wonderful privilege and opportunity to share my enthusiasm for another favorite literary hero: John Thornton. The great challenge for me is to condense into a short blog piece why I’m head over heels for Mr. Thornton and Elizabeth Gaskell’s story!
I fell in love with John Thornton as most of us do, through Richard Armitage’s breathtaking portrayal of Gaskell’s romantic hero in the BBC’s 2004 adaptation of North and South. It was Thornton that started it all for me – writing, reading classic literature, and joining discussion sites – and I’ve only grown to love him more as I’ve studied the character from Gaskell’s book these past six years.
Why I love Mr. Thornton:
He’s as solid as they come. His integrity, honesty, and humility are unquestionable. He is responsible to the core. His self-discipline and self-sacrifice are exceptional and ongoing. He pursues doing what is right, evolving his concept of what is right as Margaret comes along.
He is an independent thinker and doer. He doesn’t have a title or family name to rely on; his character alone thrusts him into greatness. He thrives on the activity of accomplishing and striving. He’s not after wealth or status as others are. He embraces change, and is proud and eager to usher in the future.
He is vulnerable. Despite his status as Milton magistrate and successful and stern mill owner, he has a tender heart which he keeps well hidden. We see the master come undone – years of practiced self-mastery rendered useless – whenever and wherever Margaret is concerned. He has never loved before, and is stricken quite forcefully. Who can resist a man who falls so utterly and is so completely unprepared? His passion, devotion, and constancy are the stuff of legends.
Why I love Gaskell:
One overriding element that distinguishes Mr. Thornton from other classical romantic heroes I’ve read is that Gaskell actually allows us inside Thornton’s head. And what a gloriously romantic place to be! The reader is given an intimate view of the desperate anguish that Thornton goes through in wanting Margaret to love him. It’s exquisite. I can’t thank Gaskell enough for this profound perspective.
Passion. I love the passion involved in Victorian literature, where emotions are vividly described and the sentences are jam-packed and convoluted – much like the layers of real-life emotions!
Touch. Gaskell is not afraid to use physical touch to create tremendous emotional impact in the middle of all the Victorian posturing and propriety. Thornton notices the first time their hands touch, Margaret throws her arms around his neck at the riot, and he “clasp[s] her close” at the very end. And then there is that “delicious silence.”
Beyond the powerful elements that make up the romantic side of her novel, I absolutely adore Gaskell for her humanitarian views and progressive themes of equality and individual freedom of thought. She constantly challenges her readers to look beyond the surface of our outward differences to see our common humanity. Her emphatic vision of social equity can be found in all her novels. (I never pass up an opportunity to recommend Wives and Daughters!) Unity, compassion, and equality are her constant themes. She also champions the freedom of the individual, promoting thinkers instead of those who blithely follow society.
What I hoped to accomplish with my own writing:
I enjoy touching on the social themes Gaskell brings out in her story, but it’s the personal romance that takes center stage in my variations. North and South is full of trials and hardships; the happy ending is finally found on the last two pages! I wanted to share my vision of the joy and deep contentment that John and Margaret would experience in sharing their lives together after all they had suffered.
I especially wished to show how finding love would affect John Thornton. I count no less than four times where Gaskell describes Thornton’s aching longing to feel Margaret’s arms around his neck once more. Clearly, this is a man who wants to love and be loved! I wanted to describe his bliss in receiving the affections he had thought would never be his.
My writing endeavors to recreate the atmosphere and emotional intensity of Gaskell’s story. Both my stories are unabashedly romantic! And I delight in writing a tortured Thornton as well as a happy and passionately tender husband.
I hope you will read A Heart for Milton and In Consequence if you haven’t already done so!
Trudy Brasure is a hopeless romantic with a longtime penchant for the Victorian Era. She lived a relatively normal life as a stay at home mother before she stumbled across the BBC’s North and South in 2009 and discovered her talent for writing. She is now an avid Gaskell fan and proponent of all things Thornton. She lives in a sunny section of the San Francisco bay area, where she continues to write fiction and essays pertaining to cotton mill masters who fall violently in love.
If you love North and South, I invite you to come talk with me about the themes and characters at my North and South blog: MoreThanThornton.com
MoreThanThornton.com (Be sure and check out Ms. Brasure's blog. It is great!)
Thank you, Trudy, for sharing your thoughts with me and my readers. After reading both of your novels, I believe you have fulfilled your endeavors. You did recreate the emotional intensity and atmosphere of Gaskell's story and yours are very romantic! I hope many Austen fans will read both your books if they have not already done so. Can we be looking for another novel from you soon???
Now it is giveaway time! Ms. Brasure is giving away two books, winner's choice of either of her books, A Heart for Milton or In Consequence, and winner's choice of eBook or paperback. Isn't that great!? Even better, the giveaway is international...Western Hemisphere/Europe! Please be sure to leave contact info! I want everyone that leaves a comment to have the chance of winning but I must be able to reach you. If I do not already have your contact info, you need to leave it for me in the comment. Thank you in advance! This giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 23rd of May. Good luck to all!