Gaskell's novel is a fascinating combination of Victorian romance and a contemporary exploration of the social upheavals that came along with the Industrial Revolution. Margaret and Mr. Thornton are both well-drawn characters each with a realistic combination of virtues and flaws. Watching their clashes and growing realization of their feelings is a delight. Interspersed is a narrative exploring the conflict, so associated with the Industrial Revolution, between the labourers and their employers. While Gaskell's views are unlikely to gibe with modern sensibilities, in Nicholas Higgins she creates a character that moves beyond caricature of the lower class and imbues him with emotion, intelligence, and ultimately makes him a sympathetic figure. A great read whether the politics, the romance, or both are of most interest.