I've just started this and am intrigued. I fear it will be all in dialect, which can be tiresome but Gaskell does such a good job with it that so far I don't mind. At least in North and South, the reader got the Hales as a break from the dialect, but all the characters in Sylvia's Lovers seem to be speaking in dialect.
According to the back of my paperback version, Gaskell reportedly described SL as the saddest story she ever told. I'm steeling myself to tragedy and heartbreak ala Thomas Hardy, but for now it's pleasant. Sylvia Robson is so different from Margaret Hale that I'm a bit prejudiced against her, and I am rather liking the loyal earnestness of Philip Hepburn, but I am quite early in the story.