FanstRAvaganza 3 has come to its finale - It's been an amazing week, an event full of enthusiasm and creativity dedicated to Richard Armitage, his talent and his past and upcoming works. 
My final post is again in the Fanfic trail. Below you'll find my review of Trudy Brasure's A Heart for Milton and of Catherine Winchester's Northern Light as well as the announcement of the names of the winners in the giveaway contests linked to my interviews with the authors (HERE and HERE).
Don't forget to check the latest posts in this trail of the FanstRAvaganza by Fedoralady, JoAnn and Gratiana Lovelace.
Till next year then, for an even greater celebration following  the release of the first Hobbit movie. More RA - dedicated posts coming soon on FLY HIGH!

My Review of A Heart for Milton

When a love story fraught with misunderstandings, separation, financial problems, and social unrest finally begins to reveal a glimmer of happiness a moment before the closing words, you can’t help but heave a sigh and think: “If only there were a few pages more. How romantic their relationship would be!”
If you’ve thought something like that after closing the book “North and South”, I’m sure you’ll love to read “A Heart for Milton,” a sequel based on Gaskell’s work.
Actually, this continuation story starts well before the end of Gaskell’s book and slightly changes the path the tale had taken after Margaret’s parents had died. Aunt Shaw comes to Milton to take Margaret back to London with her - for good. The poor girl mustn’t remain in that awful place a moment longer. She has suffered so much! But this time, Mr Thornton won’t let her go. Struggling with his powerful feelings, he discerns that Margaret sounds changed while bidding him farewell. Her previous proud rejection of him still burns and hurts, and his suspicions of her relationship with the handsome young man at the station still haunt him but … he must know her feelings, he must ask her. What if she has had a change of heart?
She has given him her father’s Plato and he will treasure it, but he decides to give her a book, too … with a special note inside. That trick works magic. Margaret is impelled to answer him and sends a message back to him: “My heart belongs to Milton.”
Imagine John Thornton riding a horse , “the steady clopping of the horse’s hooves matched the drumbeat of his heart” and trying to reach Margaret before she leaves for London at the Milton station. Imagine him asking her to stay and marry him.  How different would their story be then? Vastly different.  And after an exciting, maybe awkward second proposal, what do you think Margaret will do? Well, accept it of course! And that’s the beginning of a dreamy fairy –tale.

Margaret and John, betrothed against Aunt Shaw’s dislike for the man, will have to wait – but not too long - to see their dream come true. They will marry in Helstone and their honeymoon in a country cottage will be unforgettably passionate and romantic. Margaret and John will be thrilled by the discovery of how unbelievably happy their life together may be in that idyllic environment.
The return to reality will be inevitable. They will have to go back to Milton. Margaret will have to share Mrs Thornton’s responsibilities in the management of the house, try to get on well with her, and take care of John.  He will have to cope with a terribly difficult moment at the mill with the help of loyal Nicholas Higgins.  How will their love go through these impending troubles? Will Margaret remain at her husband’s side during the hardships of  financial failure?
Margaret and John’s married menage in “A Heart for Milton” is full of delicious romantic scenes as well as steamy moments. They are so passionately in love with each other that they can’t stay apart for too long and giggle at Mrs Thornton’s conventional propriety in preparing separate bedrooms for the two of them.  Their attraction transforms into passion so often that the pattern may become repetitive, but I’m sure that Mr Thornton’s fans, as well as Margaret herself, can never have enough of his sexy charms and will thank Trudy Brasure for the chance to drool over many delicious scenes.
Reading A Heart of Milton was truly a pleasure. It was a quick, light read which gave me new occasions to appreciate the characters in North and South - all of them - from Mr Bell (who didn’t die!) to Mrs Thornton and Fanny, from the Higgins family to Dixon, from Edith to Henry Lennox, and from Aunt Shaw to little Sholto.
Will Margaret and John ever quarrel? Will they have children? Will their bliss be troubled by jealousy?
Will they overcome their business troubles and how? Will young Mrs Thornton help John in the mill and get on well with old Mrs Thornton?  To find answers to all these questions and more, you must read this lovely tale by Trudy Brasure.
Oh, I forgot to tell you… there’s only one thing you won’t find if you look for it: brooding Mr Thornton. Love will have transformed him into a sexy, smiling, tender lover. Are you ready for that? 


The paperback copy of A Heart for Milton has been won by CLOCKWOOD . Are you ready for a romantic super- fix of ... Mr Thornton? Happy reading! 

My review of Northern Light by Cat Chester

All of us loving Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South have dreamt  about what married life would be like for John and Margaret after those final words:  “'Hush!' said Margaret, 'or I shall try and show you your mother's indignant tones as she says, "That woman!"
Fan fiction writers dare go past them to  give our dreams colours and feelings, emotions and expressions.
Cat Chester starts her Northern Light exactly from where Mrs Gaskell had stopped and imagines what the dreaded meeting between Margaret and Mrs Thornton, John’s stern  spiteful mother,  will be like. Margaret doesn’t  flinch and will succeed in conquering the other woman dear to John’s heart. She will win her sympathy and her affection.
Margaret  is rich now and her husband, once the most respected entrepreneur in Milton,  is instead bankrupt. The tittle-tattle of the town is that he has married her for interest. But once the newly married couple is before their eyes, everybody can recognize the passionate bond between them. The same evident bond which wins Mrs Thornton ‘s suspicion: that young woman from the South really loves her son and makes him happy. She comes even to love her for that.

With Fanny, John’s sister, it will not be that easy. The relationship between Margaret and John’s sister will be troubled by the latter’s jealousy and envy: her brother’s brave, smart , resourceful wife was everything she had never been.
In Cat Chester’s version Margaret is a career woman. She shares the managing of Marlborough Mill with John and wants to know and understand everything about the cotton market. Their married life is smooth and happy until what should be the happiest event  in their married life turns to endanger Margaret’s life.
Cat Chester’s  work is based on careful historical reaserch and the narration is full of details about the economy and social reality of Victorian Industrial North. Margaret and John will achieve to make a remarkable, ambitious plan a successful reality: in the difficult contest of economical depression  they will build Thornton Village providing their workers  with cheap accomodation and necessary services. They will make workers’ families’ living conditions better . This will reduce the conflict and  improve the welfare.
There are, of course,  romantic moments though the John/Margaret romantic interaction  is not the main aspect in the plot.
Honestly, while reading I got the impression  that John’s and Margaret’s characters were quite different from  Gaskell’s hero and heroine. He loses his passionate temper, his stubborness and his authoritative demeanour to become always tender, always patient, a worshipper of his wife,  who blames himself for anything negative happening to her or feels himself below her if not  unworthy of her love. Margaret is,  instead, the embodiment of perfection: she’s mature, brave, patient, impeccable. A wonder of a heroine.
This transformation may be due to Cat Chester’s personal perception of the two protagonists which could be different from mine. However, they were round complex characters in Gaskell’s portrait, which means flawed and  realistic. Here they are lovely, of course, but they become quite flat, almost types. A pleasant reading on the whole. 


The e-book of Northern Lights has been won by Ana T.  North and South is going on for you, Ana,  as soon as you'll start reading this sequel. Get ready to new emotions and ... congratulations!


Trudy said...

Congratulations, Clockwood and Ana T!
Thanks again, Maria, for stirring up some N&S love!

Trudy said...

....and Richard love!! ;)

Cat Winchester said...

Thanks Maria, and congratulations to Ana T and Clockwood. Well done and I hope you both enjoy your book.

I can't believe FanstAR is almost over! *sob*

Anonymous said...

MG, your reviews much appreciated. I love the series N&S as a lovely romantic film, while trying to keep in mind Gaskell. Even Nicholas was a bit romanticised in TV. Book and film are different media. N&S was superior TV.

None of us want to leave John and Margaret - Mrs. Gaskell had the novel serialised - could it not have continued? Mrs. Gaskell's concern (as I see it) was not a romantic novel per se, but social/economic concerns. The development of the John/Margaret relationship was a means to the the point.

But, that does not stop us wanting to know more, after the book/ after the series. The relationships were too compelling to leave them - so I appreciate that writers continue to interprete and put their thoughts into it.


IngeD3 said...

I've read A Heart for Milton and I enjoyed it immensely - such a lovely romantic story! Thanks for the review MG!

Trudy said...

Thank you, Inge! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Sophia Rose said...

Congrats Clockwood and Ana T! I'm totally envious.

I really enjoyed the posts and reviews about these sequels.