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North and South

by Meghann on November 13, 2012

The “Literal Hotties” were at it again this month: food, wine, and books – that’s what we do best!

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You know you belong to the right book club when everyone shows up at the door with hands full of tasty food. I <3 covered dishes! ๐Ÿ˜‰

As a group, we’ve been taking turns selecting the month’s book and hosting our monthly meetings (see: June, July, and October). This month Jess took charge by selecting North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell as our book and the Thanksgiving theme for tonight’s potluck.

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This was my first taste of Thanksgiving food of the season, the set up reminded me of the Thanksgiving potlucks my roommates and I used to host in college (we used to have so much fun prepping for those). I was in charge of the potatoes tonight and decided to keep it simple with a mix of mashed sweet potatoes, parsnips, and white potatoes. I really liked the idea of adding the parsnips to the sweet potatoes for a little spice, but I’m not sure I added enough to taste a difference. I did three parts sweet potato to one part parsnip, next time I would make those number a little more even.

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With my sweet potatoes, we also had mac and cheese, pumpkin biscuits, green bean casserole, stuffing, and turkey breast.

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As we sat down Stephanie proudly proclaimed “I’m so glad I have friends that can cook.” I could not agree with that statement more. Everything on my plate was delicious, especially the mac and cheese (and I don’t even like mac and cheese!). It wasn’t your traditional mac and cheese, it was more of a corn casserole with pasta shells inside. Sounds strange, but it worked really well. I’ll have to snag that recipe from Mary.

For dessert, Stephanie made pumpkin pie with homemade ginger snap crust.

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And fresh whipped cream.

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Wow. Just wow. She told me it was a Martha Stewart recipe, that Martha Stewart really knows her stuff! The crust was a little crumbly, but my taste buds didn’t mind. It was the perfect mix of sweet pumpkin and ginger snap spice. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, for the book.

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With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Patsy Stoneman, University of Hull Set in the mid-19th century, and written from the author’s first-hand experience, North and South follows the story of the heroine’s movement from the tranquil but moribund ways of southern England to the vital but turbulent north. Elizabeth Gaskell’s skilful narrative uses an unusual love story to show how personal and public lives were woven together in a newly industrial society. This is a tale of hard-won triumphs – of rational thought over prejudice and of humane care over blind deference to the market. Readers in the twenty-first century will find themselves absorbed as this Victorian novel traces the origins of problems and possibilities which are still challenging a hundred and fifty years later: the complex relationships, public and private, between men and women of different classes.

You know how I rave about how awesome it is to run while listening to a book? Well, I’ve discovered it’s not awesome to listen to every book ย on a run. I downloaded the audio version for North and South sometime last month and could only last through an easy three miler with it.

The book was written during the mid-19th century and is set during the industrial boom of London. I tried hard to pay attention to the lady with a heavy British accent during the run, but the pace of book and the sound of the voice made it hard to concentrate. I found myself zoning out to things that were not book related and completely missed everything that was being read to me. I finished my three miles without a clue of what was going on. That was definitely first, I’ve listened to at least a dozen books on runs and never had a problem of not knowing what was going on at the end of my run. Of course, those books were easy reads, not classics. I guess a good classic isn’t meant for a run. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I tried to listen to the book again on my way to Miami last Monday, but it wasn’t working.ย North and South is definitely a book that needs focus and a little dedication to get through. I almost wish I had a paperback version of the book so I could write notes to myself (like I used to do in high school and college), throughout the book. I guess paperbacks still have a place in the digital world after all.

Unfortunately I ran out of time and couldn’t finish the book before our meeting, but I was still able to hold my own in our conversation regarding the book, modern caste systems, and marrying for love versus money. We had an interesting mix of discussion topics that really tied well with modern society.

I stayed out way too late discussing London’s industrial come of age, and now I’m ready for bed.

Good Night!

Have you read North and South? What were your thoughts?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jean November 13, 2012 at 12:28 am

I haven’t read that book, but I tried listening to an audiobook while walking to work (3 miles) a few times and it did NOT work. Strange, since I listen to podcasts all the time while running and doing other stuff! I think it was the greater level of detail/complexity of the book as opposed to something actually INTENDED to be listened to (as opposed to read). Lesson learned!
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2 Carrie @ The Cook's Palette November 13, 2012 at 1:43 am

Looks like a fun book club gathering with interesting discussion. And gingersnap crust for pumpkin pie? Yum! I must give that a try this year!
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3 Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale November 13, 2012 at 1:56 am

I love the combination of ginger and pumpkin flavours, so I’m pretty sure that pie would be right up my alley! And if you do ask Mary for the mac n cheese recipe, could you also ask her if it’s okay to share it? It sounds like it has the possibility of becoming a favourite dish of mine (just from your little blurb — my interests have been incredibly piqued!) and I’d be every so grateful to be able to give it a shot!! Thanks!! ๐Ÿ˜€
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4 Lize November 13, 2012 at 4:36 am

Seeing the ginger snap crust is giving me ideas for other flavors. I wonder how a chocolate crust for a pumpkin pie would be. Add a little caramel drizzled on top of the whipped cream, and I bet it would be pretty good.
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5 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats November 13, 2012 at 6:31 am

I haven’t read that book but I LOVE period books, did the other girls enjoy it? And I can only listen to books I’ve read before on audio when I’m running because my mind wanders too much! If I read a new book then I miss a lot!
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6 Rebecca W. November 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

I LOVE “North & South”! I like to think of it as the “Pride and Prejudice” of the North (with obvious differences), and considering how much of a Jane Austen fan I am you can only imagine how many times I’ve read/how much I love North and South.

My recommendation? WATCH THE MOVIE. The BBC did an adaptation of the novel a few years back and it is INCREDIBLE. I know that as a former English major, I shouldn’t necessarily advocate for a movie over a book…but I can’t help it. It’s 100% swoonworthy (oh, and it’s also really well done!).

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7 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes November 13, 2012 at 7:06 am

Yummy food! The Thanksgiving feast would be reason enough for me to join a book club. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I haven’t read “North and South,” but my mom read it, and she liked it a lot. (She read, read it and didn’t listen to it as an audiobook.) She reads and listens to audiobooks a lot, and she told me a book’s narrator can make or break the novel; if the speaker doesn’t, well, “speak” to you, then you’re not going to enjoy the book. There are several books she started as audiobooks before she switched to reading them because she didn’t care for the narrator. I’m totally inexperienced with audiobooks, but I love the idea of multitasking–like listening and running. ๐Ÿ™‚
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8 Alyssa November 13, 2012 at 7:37 am

You listen to a lot of audio books and I need some stellar suggestions for audio books to last me on a 4 day roadtrip while moving myself to Austin from NYC, where I’ll be driving alone 8-9 hours a days.

P.S. I’m into those fluffy, teen books (Traveling Pants, Twilight, Potter, etc…) and so not ashamed!
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9 Amanda November 13, 2012 at 8:02 am

I’ve been randomly making green bean casserole this last month because I can’t stop thinking about Thanksgiving food!

I haven’t been able to really read anything with two babies under foot, but I’ve tried audio books and I just can’t get into them. I had bought one for a book I love and have read multiple times for a flight to Europe. I can’t read on the plane due to extreme motion sickness so I thought the audio book would be great, but no, I couldn’t get into it. I’m jealous of people that can!
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10 NYC Fit GIrl November 13, 2012 at 8:28 am

I really need to join a book club! I just wish I had more time!

Is there a reason you listen to audio books over reading the book? i Have never actually listened to an audio book so I wonder? ๐Ÿ™‚
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11 Allison November 13, 2012 at 8:37 am

Read it in college and loved it!

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12 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 13, 2012 at 8:44 am

that pie looks DELICIOUS! I’ve never been big on pie, which I think in part is a crust thing. I’d prefer a crumbly crust so this might be right up my alley!
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13 ct cupcake November 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

I listen to audiobooks while driving around town and when I make the long drive to CT during the holidays. I’m slightly confused by the book club name…shouldn’t it be literary hotties? The definition of literal is true to fact; not exaggerated.
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14 Natalie November 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

I absolutely love that book! Elizabeth Gaskell also wrote a book called Wives and Daughters, great book as well!

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15 Jennifer November 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

I second the suggestion to watch the BBC adaptation. I read the book after having seen the miniseries and loved it too but the miniseries is AMAZING. Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton is seriously droolworthy.

I listen to audiobooks while running but generally I need something “light” to listen to – like YA novels. My latest was “How to Save a Life” by Sara Zarr which I’d highly recommend!

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16 Emily N November 13, 2012 at 9:24 am

this makes me even MORE excited for thanksgiving!
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17 Natalie @ Free Range Human November 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

All of that food looks wonderful! I can’t believe you don’t like mac and cheese. Sacrilege! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I haven’t heard of this book, but it sounds like something I would like. I love everything about British history. I do see how this topic would be hard to listen to on audio. Sounds like a great discussion book though!
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18 Amy November 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

You definitely need to watch the BBC miniseries version of North and South. It’s wonderful.

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19 Christine @ BookishlyB November 13, 2012 at 10:10 am

You tried to listen to the book you were supposed to READ for book club ?!?!? Oh Meghann, no! Hahaha! If you’re really that hell-bent on listening the first go-around (I sometimes listen to books I’ve already read in case the reader is horrible) check out a Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. His voice is great and he does some great variations for the different characters (and the story itself is fantastic).
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20 Cher @ Weddicted November 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

I read the book for a 19th century lit. class and I didn’t mind it. It wasn’t one of my favourites, though!
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21 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats November 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

I have been wanting to join a book club! That book doesn’t really seem like my kind of book but those covered dishes most certainly do ๐Ÿ™‚
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