Author Megan Frampton has graciously consented to help me launch a new phase in this blog’s career: Interesting Stuff Not About Me.
I invited her to talk about her recently released Avon historical romance, The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior, but Megan did something else—and her intro explains, in part, why Megan & I are friends: She wants to give readers something a bit different, like posts about the things that move and inspire her. You can find more of this approach on Megan's website as well as on Heroes & Heartbreakers, where she’s Community Manager.
Thanks to Loretta for having me here today! I have a new release titled The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior, and it is a governess/duke romance with lots of humor and hopefully some excellent sexual tension. But I’m not going to talk about my book, because honestly, I find self-promotional author posts to be snooze-worthy, and I don’t want to put anyone to sleep. I want to talk about the North and South miniseries. And my obsession with it.
The best love stories have a tension in them that is a combination of both internal and external factors. Things like, “he has a job I hate,” or “I can’t stop focusing on revenge long enough to let myself fall in love,” or things like that. Things that make it seem impossible for the hero and heroine to fall in love and stay in love.
If you examine some of the most iconic love stories in classic literature you’ll find that the most lasting ones have both types of conflict. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are in different classes, different worlds, and then Elizabeth’s family is taken down even more when her sister does something to ruin all of them. Then there’s the internal factors of the respective prides and prejudices.
I’d like to say that is the biggest reason I have an annual viewing party of North and South, based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novel. After all, it has both types of conflict—Mr. Thornton is acutely aware of Margaret’s being of a different class, plus he isn’t sure how he feels about speculating in love (we know how he feels about speculation in business). Margaret is aware of his class, yes, but she is just inherently different from him, and conscious of that, at first preferring the Southern ways to the Northern ones, but gradually coming to realize that she wants to be more Northern, if it means helping people and being useful.
But that wouldn’t be the biggest reason. The biggest reason is Richard Armitage, who plays John Thornton. I’ve read the book, and the miniseries’ version of John Thornton is very different from Gaskell’s; Armitage’s Thornton is fierce, strong, aggressive, intelligent, nuanced, and sensitive. The book Thornton is a lot more hesitant, more firmly set in his position as subservient to Margaret.
The moment that gets me every time is at the train station even before the kiss (which also gets me every time, but duh!) is when he pulls out the flower from his pocket and says, “You’ll never guess where I’ve been” as he presents it to Margaret, revealing that he has been to her South, likely to understand where she comes from. “In the hedgerow, you have to look hard.”
Oh, goodness. A man travels for a long way via train simply to visit the place where the woman he loves, but whom he has no idea could possibly have feelings for him at the time, comes from? HOLD ME.
Plus who would have thought, when we first met Mr. Thornton lashing out at a worker for smoking in the factory, that he would have such a sentimental streak? He didn’t, actually; it’s all because of Margaret, and his love for her. GAH I’m swooning.
And then let’s talk about that kiss. The way he cups her jaw in his hand, the way he’s kissing her with passion, but as though it’s a joint kiss. She’s not just accepting his kiss, she’s giving him a kiss as well. I might have watched North and South upwards of twenty times, but that number is tiny compared with how many times I have watched the clip of that kiss.
My annual viewing is coming up, and I’m looking forward to noticing something new, as I do each time I watch, and taking inspiration for my own writing.