Back in 1985, I was one of millions who swooned over the southern charm of Patrick Swayze’s character, Orry Main, in the television adaption of John Jakes’ novel North and South. I still have a soft spot for the story, and thought it was high time I read the book.
Once I started reading I was immediately immersed in the world of the Hazards and the Mains. The story, in case you don’t know it, involves two young men who meet at West Point as cadets and become lifelong friends. Orry Main is a southerner, and George Hazard, a Yankee. The years leading up to the Civil War bring up issues that further divide the United States, and place a strain on their friendship. At the end of this book, the war breaks out, with our protagonists on opposite sides.
This is only the first of three lengthy novels in Jakes North and South trilogy. I think it stands up fairly well since it was first written in 1982. The dialogue could have been better (however, it is actually worse in the miniseries!), but the story still endears itself to me. I found most interesting the areas where the television series differed from the book. Some parts, like how Orry and Madeline’s relationship was hurried along in the screen version, made much more sense in the slowed down book version. But one could certainly understand the need to cut back due to time constraints. I believe the movie version eliminated Orry’s older brother altogether, although he makes an appearance in the television adaption for Book III. I think I’m going to have to read the other two books and then watch all three television series. It’s nice to have goals. And to be charmed by Patrick Swayze again.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1982
Amazon Book Preview of North And South