When The Lady of Bolton Hill was first released, a handful of the early reviewers compared it to a miniseries called North & South. I mistakenly thought they were referring to the John Jakes mini-series by the same name. The John Jakes story was set during the American Civil War and featured two men whose differing political allegiances tore their friendship asunder. It bore literally zero similarity to The Lady of Bolton Hill, so I dug a little deeper and found the BBC miniseries based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell.
I decided to order the BBC version of North & South through NetFlix and take a peek. I am so glad I did! The BBC version is a splendid tale of star-crossed lovers and class struggles. Set in Victorian England, it tells the story of a privileged young woman who moves from a serene, bucolic village to a grimy factory town. There she meets the brooding and passionate John Thornton, who owns one of the largest factories. These two could not be more opposite. Mr. Thornton develops an immediate attraction to the heroine, but Margaret is repulsed by what she perceives to be his cruelty and ruthless business practices.
The storyline is good, cinematography is gorgeous, the soundtrack is haunting…but what really makes the movie is the magnificent Richard Armitage who stars as John Thornton. Just beneath his stern demeanor we can see this simmering, passionate man who is ripped apart by his unrequited love for Margaret. Time and again she stomps on his heart, to which he responds by getting colder and more remote….but the viewer can see him wrestling with these terribly inconvenient emotions he can’t subdue. He is a complex character and it is fascinating to watch him confront one challenge after another over the course of the miniseries. Oh, and he’s also smoking hot. Just saying.
I admit to a fair amount of trepidation before watching North & South. So many reviewers had commented on the similarities between my book and the miniseries that I worried people might think I had sponged ideas or plot lines from it. Although there is a superficial similarity in the basic plot (rich factory owner, girl of privilege who disapproves of his business tactics) that is where the similarity ends. And after watching the miniseries, I was flattered down to my toes that people thought my book and the miniseries were mentioned in the same sentence.
If you’ve never seen North & South, you are in for a treat. It is available on NetFlix, and also on the new streaming video service from Amazon.