Once in a while, we are touched by something so deeply that it becomes a constant source of joy.
When we need to have our spirits lifted, there it is; we just have to revisit our source, and the joy is back.
The 2004 BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South provides that kind a joy to me. The novel’s plot is brilliant, but Sandy Welsh’s script gives it a contemporary ring so that the characters become even more alive. Brian Percival’s direction is magnificent and gives the viewer a thorough understanding of the nineteenth century workers’ struggle. Martin Phipps’ lovely music touches our hearts.
Of course, the actors’ performances are outstanding. All British actors and actresses just have that je-ne-sais-quoi that makes them so lovable. Yet Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage show us a chemistry that shines through the whole film like a beacon of love and hope.
North & South is in essence Margaret Hale’s story. John Thornton is her love interest as the male lead, but we mostly see Margaret’s views and reactions, in the novel as well as in the film.
I decided it was time to give Thornton the opportunity to explain himself to the full.
Writing The Reform of John Thornton was both a joy and a thrill. I can’t aspire to match Mrs Gaskell’s brilliant writing, of course. I will endeavour to use my own style and hope for the best.
As soon as I finished writing, I realised that my story could never be published. I broke too many rules in using Sandy Welsh’s script word for word. Yet it could not be done otherwise and gave me lots of fun.
I hope you will enjoy Thornton’s own story and forgive me for giving him that chance.