Review: Master of the Mill by Cate Toward

Title: Master of the Mill
Author: Cate Toward
Published: January 6, 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

Goodreards Summary:
John Thornton, mill master, and a true son of north, a proud inheritor of its ethic of hard work and no nonsense. He is also a man of deep passions.
Margaret Hale, daughter of a parson, was brought up in the gently, idyllic seeming South, she has a naïve view of the world that the cynical mill master does not share.

My thoughts:
The author states on Amazon that this is her darker re-imagining of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Her warning should not be taken lightly. I don't have a problem with re-imaginings. I love reading different possibilities and story lines of much-loved characters as long as the characters in questions remain true to the story. Change the story line, yes, but leave the characters alone! What I mean by that is that the characters essence should remain the same. I say this because this is how I felt when Cate Toward changed Mr. Thronton:

Mr. Thornton has been changed into a debauchery. He seldom resembles Gaskell's Mr. Thornton at all. I say seldom because at times I did see a glimmer of Gaskell's Mr Thronton. But it wasn't enough for me. Some of the other characters' personalities changed a bit, but they were more believable. 

The story line in this book is what kept me reading after my meltdown about the characters. Toward did a decent job in making the story interesting, and I liked the direction she took it. I'm not a purist, but I think this book would have been better if Mr. Thornton retained some of Gaskell's qualities. 

Thornton was unrecognizable and because of that I don't think Margaret would have liked him very much at all.  I would even go a step further and make it a different story altogether and leave North and South out of it.  There were are also some spelling and grammatical errors that got in the way. The author gives fair warning, so it's up to you if you want to take the risk. 

My rating: