The international critics are calling North and South a true masterpiece of English literature and one of the finest works by Elizabeth Gaskell. It's worth mentioning that this novel was turned into a television show not once, but twice - in '75 and in 2004. And, the latest adaptation was hugely popular and made countless folks interested enough to read the original book and to turn it into a bestseller once again.
North and South depicts the perspectives of both the wealthy and the poor social classes of the industrializing country and features mill workers, as well as the proud owners. Set in a fictional townlet, it represents the very essence of industrialization and all the vices and virtues that came with it. Margaret, the main character of the novel, has no other choice but to abandon her lovely house in the peaceful south and move to Milton with her mom and dad.
There, she becomes witness to all the horrors of the industrial revolution and sees first-hand how the rich folks and the hard workers fight over inequality. Margaret starts to sympathize the employees and fall in love with their courage, valiancy, and strength. Soon, she makes several friends among the laborers and goes head-to-head against Mr. Thornton, the owner of a cotton mill and a haughty, edgy man who doesn't consider his workers to be equals.
North and South follows Margaret's life in this harsh environment and her growing concerns with the sophisticated system of relations between the generally-good owners and the workers. The novel was published in 1855 and is a brilliant "source of knowledge" if you want to learn everything there is to learn about the mid-19th century England and the ups and downs of the industrial revolution.