Read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell Online


'It is very pleasant dining with a bachelor...I only hope it is not improper; so many pleasant things are!'A portrait of the residents of an English country town in the mid nineteenth century, Cranford relates the adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances. Through a series of vignettes'It is very pleasant dining with a bachelor...I only hope it is not improper; so many pleasant things are!'A portrait of the residents of an English country town in the mid nineteenth century, Cranford relates the adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances. Through a series of vignettes, Elizabeth Gaskell portrays a community governed by old-fashioned habits and dominated by friendships between women. Her wry account of rural life is undercut, however, by tragedy in its depiction of such troubling events as Matty's bankruptcy, the violent death of Captain Brown or the unwitting cruelty of Peter Jenkyns. Written with acute observation, Cranford is by turns affectionate, moving and darkly satirical.In her introduction, Patricia Ingham discusses Cranford in relation to Gaskell's own past and as a work of irony in the manner of Jane Austen. She also considers the implications of the novel in terms of class and empire. This edition also includes further reading, notes, and an appendix on the significance of 'Fashion at Cranford'....

Title : Cranford
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781444817126
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 328 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Cranford Reviews

  • Sue
    2019-05-27 11:11

    "the humor is so sly. at times it's difficult to believe that this was written over 150 years ago. I guess that gentle social humor has always been with us." --- this was one of my status updates while reading Cranford, my first experience reading Elizabeth Gaskell. As I finished reading, I felt the same way: pleased with the experience, surprised at the wit and wisdom written so well so many years ago. But then I ask myself...Why am I surprised? There are always intelligent women and always intelligent women who find ways to make themselves heard even in less than enthusiastic societies. I need to keep looking for them!I had planned to include some of the truly wonderful quotes from various characters but instead I challenge you to read this book and discover them for yourself. I venture to say you will be glad you did.

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-20 09:49

    I'll admit I'm no procurer of Victorian liteary novels, but I've always wanted to dabble in the works of Elizabeth Gaskell, the woman who had the honor of writing The Life of Charlotte Brontë. Cranford is said to be slightly humorous, with a unique take on the lives of women during that era. A bit humorous, partly due to the preposterousness of the attitudes surrounding small town etiquette, yes, but I wouldn't call it humorous in the general sense. And yet these characters are electrifying and their everyday stories absorbing, which made me curious about the backdrop of Gaskell's creativity, where she produced such stories, and it led me to this beautiful picture of her home:Gaskell House, Plymouth Grove, Manchester (cc Creative Commons Patyo1994)Cranford is a village of people who, at the risk of seeming pretentious, choose to ignore anything uncomfortable, anything that suggests lack. For example, the person who cannot afford a maid would hire someone temporarily when entertaining friends and pretend as if the maid is a permanent fixture, even though she is aware that everyone knows this is false. No one speaks of another's wants, so imagine the disdain when a newcomer, Captain Brown, arrives and cannot stop speaking simply and openly about his poverty. These small exchanges, highlighted by Gaskell's stylized prose, do add mirth to this ceremonial narrative.If we walked to or from a party, it was because the night was so fine, or the air so refreshing, not because sedan chairs were expensive. If we wore prints,instead of summer silks, it was because we preferred a washing material; and so on till we blinded ourselves to the vulgar fact that we were, all of us, people of very moderate means.Each chapter proceeds in a short story fashion, with a narrator who you never really get to properly meet, but one who has a grasp on the village's idiosyncrasies. The characters are mostly unmarried women who are older and more reflective, so the reader is given stories from those pivotal moments of their lives, thus one gets an idea of the cultural dynamic. The atmospheric vibe is pensive, as each new chapter is an evolution of Cranford, a tilt to the village's personality and character. The contemporary comparative narrative that comes to mind is Olive Kitteridge, although I'll admit that no one character is really as dominant and memorable as good ole Olive. And as I write this, I'm already considering how Gaskell's other novels, like Mary Barton or Ruth for example, would compare to this for me, since I do plan on sampling at least another one of her works.

  • Vanessa
    2019-05-23 11:11

    FINALLY, an Elizabeth Gaskell book that I enjoyed!I honestly didn't think I would enjoy this book, and was almost regretting putting it on my Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon TBR. And whaddya know, I finished it! Cranford follows a group of women living in the small fictional town of, you guessed it, Cranford. The women live in "genteel poverty" and have very old-fashioned mindsets about life and social niceties and norms. The book is told from the perspective of Mary Smith (or Elizabeth Gaskell), and focuses mainly on Miss Matty, a sweet-tempered older woman who is one of the pillars of society since the death of her older, revered sister Deborah Jenkyns.This book was cute and sweet and quite funny, which did surprise me. Although it took a little while for me to get used to the language (haven't read a classic in a while, and I usually find Gaskell's writing a little long-winded), it ended up becoming a much easier read than I anticipated. Once you are familiar with the cast of characters and their personalities, it is really enjoyable seeing what will happen to them next.If you're a fan of Gaskell, or even not a fan of Gaskell, I'd definitely recommend it. I'm glad I didn't give up on her writing. Who knows, maybe I'll read another of her books at some point!

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-05-30 11:00

    This is a book about the village of Cranford which mainly women inhabit; women who live according to customs and norms and who are quite fond of gossip. If you think this sounds good then this might be a book for you, but I personally got very tired of it very quickly. Each chapter follows a new anecdote, and while some of them were quite entertaining, most of them were dull and quite shallow, in my eyes. I'm sure the ladies of those days thought them of the utmost importance, but I couldn't seem to care much about their fascination with a male visitor, their tea party intrigues or their money problems. I loved "Wives and Daughters" by Elizabeth Gaskell, but this one not so much, unfortunately.

  • Sara
    2019-06-12 10:55

    3.5 stars, rounded down.Want to take a trip to a small English town in the mid 1800s, meet the people and see what everyday life was like for the female population? Open Cranford and travel in time. It is a sweet and simple book, comprised of what seems more like vignettes than an actual plot line. Nothing exciting happens, life just unfolds, and yet you feel attached to these women, admiring the grace with which they handle their sometimes difficult world, the way they navigate a system that pigeonholes them and limits them.Miss Matty Jenkyns is such a sweet and gentle person. She always thinks of others before self and tries to please everyone, sometimes to her own detriment. She exhibits very little self-pity, and when she caves to even the simplest bit of a well-deserved indulgence, she succumbs to guilt and remorse immediately. Her life has been about self-sacrifice and a bit of bullying by her older sister, but she is so non-judgmental and well-loved by others, that you feel her sacrifice has not been unrewarded. Matty is not a character I will easily forget.I do not think this is one of Gaskell’s best works. North and South has more substance; Mary Barton is much stronger. Still, Cranford is heart-warming and touching in many ways and I am glad to have read it.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-30 13:05

    Delightful! I went into this totally blind, knowing only that it's a respected classic by the author of NORTH AND SOUTH. I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly wasn't expecting this! CRANFORD is all about the village of Cranford, which is mostly inhabited by shabby genteel spinsters and widows. The whole book is a serious of humorous vignettes about life there as related by an outsider, Mary Smith, who frequently goes to stay with her elderly friend Miss Matty. Through the eyes of the narrator we see scandals like a charming widow remarrying (and to a man beneath her station, no less!), a roguish foreign conjuror turning out to be an Englishman in a turban- or is he? and a wave of petty crime that causes the good ladies to sleep with one eye open and a series of elaborate traps laid out to catch the thieves- or maybe they're murderers- or perhaps even horrid Irish beggars! Though some real drama does occur, it is covered with a light touch and the overall impression of the book is one of gentle humor. Quite a refreshing surprise, considering that I have recently read FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and some of Louisa May Alcott's preachier entries into the fiction world!

  • Kim
    2019-05-18 05:46

    What a gorgeous book. After years of avoiding Victorian literature, in the past twelve months I've fallen in love with Gaskell's writing. This is a short work: more a series of episodes than a linear narrative. It centres on the lives of a group of women who dominate society in the small town of Cranford. They are united by being single - widows and spinsters - and by the fact that live in genteel poverty. Cranford is at times laugh-out-loud funny, at times deeply moving. Within five minutes of starting the novel I was laughing at the gentle satire on human foibles and life in a small town. Forty minutes later, I was crying about the death of one of the characters. The pattern of alternating laughter and tears continued until the very end. At least, the tears don't last quite till the end: it's a book which thankfully ends on a happy note. Cranford is sentimental, but not cloyingly so. The humour cuts through the sentiment, while making the sad moments even more poignant. The novel is a first person narrative in the form of a memoir. Relatively little is revealed about the narrator, although more becomes known about her as the novel progresses. The narrator is herself a lovely character, although the real star of the novel is the wonderful Miss Matty Jenkyns. I love Miss Matty and I loved spending time in Cranford. I'm particularly happy to have listened to the Naxos audiobook version, superbly narrated by Clare Wille. Now I have to watch the BBC television series and see how it measures up to the original. This is a 4-1/2 star read.

  • Marquise
    2019-06-09 08:56

    This little novel about small-town life in 19th century England deals with a group of ladies in Cranford and their daily travails, is easy to read and filled with amusing anecdotes. The story flies by too quickly and ends too soon, however, leaving a taste of insubstantiality and emptiness, like when you finish eating candy floss (cotton candy, for the Americans out there). Because this book doesn't really tell a story in the traditional sense, with a start, a middle and an end, and there's no traditional character arc either but it's rather just a more or less linear series of anecdotes protagonised by the same bunch of womenfolk, and so one is left wondering, "What is the point of this?"There's likely none really. Maybe Gaskell's only purpose was to illustrate the country lifestyle of a gone-by era, which she tells in a tone tinged with heavy nostalgia and longing for a simpler life with the Industrial Revolution running full steam on its way to change Britain for good.

  • Inder
    2019-06-01 07:15

    Ah, so delightful! I loved this. It's really a series of vignettes, and, if there is a plot at all, it doesn't show up until halfway through. But it's so funny! And sad! And it's all about women! I laughed aloud a few times, and almost cried a few other times. Sigh. I'm such a sucker for this stuff. But I loved it. Despite its disjunctive narrative, I read the whole book in less than three days. But I'm strange that way.For Happy (I would alert readers to spoilers, but there actually isn't much to spoil):Yeah, the makers of the Masterpiece adaptation took some serious liberties with the plot (or lack thereof). The series is fun and I'm really enjoying it, but it contains several plot lines that are not in the book. In fact, arguably the most important plot lines in the series are completely made up (as opposed to completely made up by Gaskell, I guess). For example, the young doctor and his girl, and all the associated story-lines, simply do not exist in the book. The carpenter with the broken bones - it's all made up. (That disappointed me, because, ever since Middlemarch, I've had a soft spot for young, ambitious doctors in 19th Century English villages. Alas, it was not to be found.) The cute kid who wants to rise above his station? Not only isn't he in the book, but I think the entire idea of him is alien to this novella, which (unlike Gaskell's other work) is centered entirely around the middle and aristocratic classes (and shifts therein), and barely touches on the working class at all.More mildly, all of the timing is wrong (understandable, since following the vignettes too closely would result in a almost cliff-hanger free show, not good TV). And they skip a couple of deaths. There are a surprising number of deaths in this short novella, and I can see that if the series were more faithful to the book, it might be just too depressing. The book is never depressing, although it has sad moments, because of the quality of the narration, but this is difficult to reproduce on film.Overall, there are probably more inconsistencies than similarities between the two. But it's hard to blame the screen-writer - the book doesn't offer much in the way of actual action to work with, and is noticeably missing any love affairs between attractive young people, which, let's face it, is the bread and butter of Masterpiece. The droll, sarcastic, disjunctive narration of commonplace events, makes for a particularly difficult adaptation.But I love it - a new favorite narrator for me.

  • Katie Lumsden
    2019-06-18 07:57

    I adore this one. A brilliant, fascinating book. It's not necessarily Gaskell's best written but it's written so lovingly, with such wonderful characters and such a realisation and enjoyable presentation of a small town and the community of women within it, that I can't help but love it. It's also hilarious!(I'd also highly recommend the Penguin Classics edition - it has brilliant appendixes and notes at the back!)

  • Laurel Hicks
    2019-06-13 11:59

    Great fun! Mrs. Gaskell's gentle yet probing comedy of manners is a book worthy of many readings. There's a lot of dressing up in this book--wearing the perfect hat for the occasion, buying the latest material, dressing a cow in flannel, Peter's ill-received jokes. No clear plot, but then I don't usually read for the plots. The character studies here are priceless.

  • Siria
    2019-05-25 10:58

    Beautifully observed and gently funny, Cranford is less a novel than it is a series of vignettes, drawn from the lives of a small group of genteelly impoverished older women in a small town in mid-nineteenth century England. Gaskell is quite gentle with her characters, I think perhaps because she was aware of how limited a life she was creating for them—with all the social restrictions placed on unmarried women, with just enough social status to be unable to work to support themselves, but with not enough income to keep themselves independent—and so while they have to face trials, Miss Matty and Co. have the strength and the resilience to face them.

  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀
    2019-06-02 08:47

    Delightful! This is going on my favorites shelf.

  • Lois Bujold
    2019-06-09 11:16

    I picked this up due to a review by Jo Walton on She described it as something like a mid-19th Century English Lake Wobegone, which gives a tolerably accurate sense of the discursive tone. Charming and kindly, with only a tenuous thread of anything one might call a plot, but nonetheless absorbing. I quite liked it. It is available as a free e-edition on Amazon Kindle.The first-person voice makes it very naturally a "told" story, untouched by the later cinematic techniques that infiltrated narratives in the century following. This also can be a subtly dense style, with a power to pack a lot into a little space. Strong sense of a time and place grown increasingly alien to us. So nice to read something that isn't trying to out-horrific all the others in some mad race for the bottom, even though the story was not untouched by death. The characters' vices were all petty ones, but their virtues, though gentle, were not. I'd almost forgotten books like this could exist. Maybe they can't, anymore.Ta, L.

  • Lemony
    2019-05-22 13:08

    Prépare-toi une bonne tasse de thé ( pas du thé vert), mets-y un peu de crème et juste ce que tu aimes de sucre. Installe-toi dans ton endroit préféré, et s'il pleut comme aujourd'hui c'est encore mieux. Prends un plaid au cas où. Tu vois? On est à Cranford. Petite ville ville, pas très loin de Londres; avec ses règles, ses coutumes et surtout son étiquette et sa bienséance. Et les femmes de la ville y tiennent. Tu vas te retrouver dans une petite boule a neige ou le temps s'est presque arrêté; et si tu as aimé Jane Austen, il y a de fortes chance que tu te sentes bien à Cranford. Je ne te raconterai pas l'histoire ( je ne raconte pas très bien en fait..), mais tu vas te sentir probablement bien et calme en le lisant et peut être que tu as besoin de ça. Tu as aussi peut être besoin de rire un peu. Alors bienvenue à Cranford !

  • Renee M
    2019-05-29 09:13

    It took me a while to get into the rhythm of this book, after having been so swept away by North and South. This is quite different, but the two together showcase the bright talent that was Elizabeth Gaskell. Another reviewer has described the novel as adorable, and I heartily agree. It was so lovely to shake off the dust of my day for a few stolen moments in Cranford.

  • RavenclawReadingRoom
    2019-06-14 08:03

    Let me start by saying that I probably would have enjoyed this book more if I hadn't seen and loved the BBC's adaptation of Cranford like 10 years ago. Because this book is effectively a series of individual vignettes all set in the same village. The adaptation, in contrast, overlaps and spreads the vignettes out over the course of its episodes, allowing a more coherent storyline to emerge. So. There's nothing WRONG with the vignettes. But you don't find out the narrator's name until about two thirds of the way through the story. Characters are introduced only to be killed off a couple of pages later. Characters mentioned in passing in early chapters are brought back in detail in later chapters without any real sense of reintroduction. So yeah. The characters are delightful, as most of Gaskell's characters are. But the story itself felt disjointed.

  • Lesle
    2019-06-06 07:52

    Cranford is a small English village inhabited mostly by ladies. Few gentlemen take up residence.Much ado about the proper ways to conduct life. There are few men who the women seem to enjoy. There is loss, death, marriage and childbirth like any other village. There is social standings and one who is a go to person for knowledge of what is correct, that they depend on. Cranford society changes and comes full circle in the end.I wish I had found it more interesting than I did. At times had a hard time staying with it. Ended with a small relief that I was done. :(

  • Pink
    2019-05-30 11:15

    I liked this, it was sweet and humorous and quick to listen to. Although, I can't remember much that happened. There was the scene with the cat, some stuff about hats and fashions, some downfalls and some reunions. A snapshot of small town life in 19th century England, not a lot has changed really.

  • Arukiyomi
    2019-05-28 12:06

    The 1001 Books list has totally changed the way I read novels. It’s given me access to writers that have deeply influenced the way I see the world and has given me memories of characters and storylines that have been incredibly powerful. And then it’s introduced me to Elizabeth Gaskell and the trivial wittering rubbish of Cranford.This is a book about absolutely nothing. I recently thought Northanger Abbey lacked any substance. How very wrong I was. Cranford redefines pointlessness. I waited in vain for one significant thing to happen throughout the entire book and, when it finally did, the novel ended. It was an audio book and, for a minute, I thought my mp3 player had had a fit and I’d lost some files. But no, that was it.My mother in law asked me why it was so bad. To help her understand I asked her to imagine following a contemporary blog of some young 20-something whose life is filled with triviality, all of which she details every day. You meet her shallow friends with bland personalities, hear her discuss with avid attention for pages and pages things that shouldn’t justify a blink of attention. That’s Cranford, the petty ramblings of a young woman with nothing better to do. Even Wikipedia can’t come up with much on this one.I’m glad the reading’s over with… now I’ll just sit back and wait for the Gaskell-ites to comment and try to sell this one to me. Just go ahead and try, I dare you

  • Ellie
    2019-06-12 07:50

    Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell is Victorian literature at its best. A small community-in this case, for some reason populated almost exclusively by women, in which all the events of the larger world occur (love, death, marriage, childbirth, financial struggles) but in microcosmically allowing their repercussions to reverberate more loudly while simultaneously being softened by the arch tone of the book and rather hilarious eccentricities of the town's inhabitants.I loved this book. I would avoid living there at all costs but I grew to love this town and the women who lived there. And while I laughed at there many foibles and their sometimes extreme ways of holding together their pride, I also began to feel protective of them.The story is a series of episodes that are loosely strung together, more by emotional relationships than by narrative connectivity. But it holds together well, the writing is crisp and clear and the world portrayed felt as vivid as the one surrounding me.I strongly recommend this book for people who enjoy entering a world and its relationships in which drama may be small but it is heartfelt.

  • Sinem A.
    2019-06-15 12:11

    1800'lerde İngiltere 'de Cranford adlı bir kasabada yaşayan bir grup kadının günlük yaşantılarını anlatan kitap aslında çok mizahi ve dönemine göre çok feminist ve Viktorya dönemi İngilteresine taşlamalarla dolu. O dönemden bi caanım Jane Austen bilen ve sevenlere bu Charles Dickens ile arkadaşlık kurmuş geç -hele de Türkçede epeyce geç- keşfedilmiş zeki hanımefendiyi şiddetle tavsiye ederim. Kitabın giriş cümlesi zaten olacakların habercisi " Her şeyden önce, Cranford, Amazonların elindedir..."

  • Ying Ying
    2019-05-28 08:04

    This book is extremely slow and suits itself for audiobook. While there is no drama, the book gives a good sense of the Cranford society, where values are more important than financial means, and economies are made even out of candles. The story is ideal for those who want to return to old historical times where any minor familial discussion is a significant event, and where letters are in such abundance that an entire chapter can be dedicated to them. Reading the story as slowly as possible can significantly improve the chances of enjoying it.

  • Alex
    2019-05-29 11:00

    Is it possible to discuss Cranford without using the word "charming?" It'd be like playing literary Taboo. Like trying to talk about The Road without saying "bleak," or Catcher in the Rye without "insufferable twat."Cranford is a charming book. If it seems a bit more episodic than plot-driven, it's because it is; it was originally commissioned by Dickens as a series of eight essays for his publication Household Works. It was enormously popular, so Gaskell ended up novelizing it. And it does have a bit more plot than it's given credit for: it has a protagonist - Miss Matty - and an arc - her several swings in fortune. (And when I heard Dame Judi Dench had played Miss Matty for the BBC, my response was, "Well, of course she did." That was as inevitable as Patrick Stewart playing Professor X, or Ken Branagh frothing his way through King Lear in 2030.)It's also partly autobiographical; many of the most vivid scenes are from Gaskell's upbringing in the very similar town of Knutsford, and first appeared in her autobiographical essay The Last Generation. If the drop-dead hilarious story involving lace and pussies seems a bit out of place to's too weird not to be true. Books that try to be funny rarely work for me; Cranford is a rare exception. I was entertained.There's some debate over whether Cranford is a feminist book or not. You could argue that it depicts a utopian society run by women (Amazons, even!) who take care of each other; and you could point to the narrator's detailed rundown of the things Miss Matty isn't qualified to do (Ch. XIV) as a critique of the lack of education available to women, which it is. Or you could call it a loving satire of a bunch of silly old ladies in bad hats. Charlotte Bronte - one of a circle of close, supportive female friends Gaskell created, which also included Florence Nightingale - wrote that William Thackeray should take Cranford, "put himself to bed, and lie there...til he had learnt by diligent study how to be satirical without being exquisitely bitter." Both of those readings are accurate, and I think Cranford is as feminist as you want it to be, in the same way that 2 Live Crew are - or were - as nasty as they wanted to be, which in retrospect was more charming than nasty. And in fact both parties - Gaskell and 2 Live Crew - talked a great deal about pussies, though in different contexts.

  • Bob
    2019-06-07 12:12

    I ended up liking this much better than I thought I would. At first I was lost as to how all the characters fit together. It felt like walking into a room full of people not knowing anyone. In addition to not knowing anyone in the room nobody acknowledges my presence. I'm in the middle of a conversation not knowing anything about the lives of people around me. I found it daunting getting up to speed on the life and times of the people of Cranford. I even considered abandoning it. I am glad I was patient and stuck with to the end. It was the humor that kept me going until I caught up with the characters and their relationship to one another. Most of the humor is subtle, involving gossip about other people in the community.One of the things I found funny involved a cat and a piece of lace. During one of the many conversations between the women of Cranford, one lady commented to another about how beautiful a piece of lace she was wearing was. The owner of the lace thanked the other for the kind comment and acknowledged that it was indeed one of the most beautiful pieces of lace she had ever owned. Then the possessor of this magnificent piece of cloth told the story of how she almost lost this wondrous possession. Apparently one excellent way of cleaning and caring for this wonder cloth is to clean it with milk. One particular day after this lace was nicely cleaned at the milk bath spa it was laid out to dry. This is where the cat comes in. Old puss eats it, that’s right gobbled it up, gone. After several attempts fail to retrieve said lace from the front end of the cat, the owner of the lace and apparently owner of the cat too, for they seemed to be on friendly terms, except for this one incident, gives the cat something to drink. After all after all that lace, not to mention fingers down his throat, old puss is quite thirsty. This mystery concoction that old puss is forced to drink does indeed result in the reappearance of the lace. The lace survives and is still thought of as wondrous. The dishonorable cat also survived, hopefully wiser for the experience. Now the ladies listening to this story are all joyously happy that the lace and the cat survived. However, none of the ladies seemed curious about which end of the cat the lace reappeared. Me I’m still curious about it, whatever end old puss returned his ill-gotten gains I think the ladies were very polite and proper by not mentioning it. What else can you expect from the gentile ladies of Cranford.

  • Katherine
    2019-05-30 04:57

    At first, Cranford may seem superficially quaint in it's manner, as it relates the story of a small country town made up of mostly middle-aged women. But to read it only for it's quaintness is to do yourself a disservice, for there is more strength to this novel than just that. The first thing I noticed while reading was the surprisingly modern humor to be picked up on. From forcing laxatives on a fine lace eating cat, to dolling over a cow loved as a daughter (my examples may all be animal related, but there's much more), Cranford's society is absolutely hilarious. But the integrity isn't lacking either. Each woman's individualism is admired and loved, and their quirks accepted. And so I loved each character, but Miss Matty was certainly the star. As a whole, Cranford is a loving community, and I only wish there was more to read.I can understand how some feel uneasy about it's disjointedness, but if you read each chapter like a short story with the same characters it makes sense (though it is chronological). Cranford is a novel I will cherish and certainly read again.

  • Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
    2019-06-02 07:15

    Charming start. I went to bed the first night envisioning livestock in grey flannel petticoats.Mr. Dickens v. Dr. Johnson? Count me in with ol' Chuck any day!

  • Laurel
    2019-05-21 09:03

    To prime myself for Return to Cranford, the new Masterpiece Classic sequel to last year’s award-winning mini-series Cranford on PBS, I wanted to read Mrs. Gaskell’s original novel that it was adapted from. Since I am always short of reading time, I chose instead to listen to an audio recording, my favorite pastime during my commute to work. After a bit of research on Cranford audio book recordings, I settled on the Naxos edition. From my experience with their recording of Jane Austen’s novels I knew the quality would be superior. I was not disappointed. A witty and poignant portrait of small town life in an early Victorian-era English village, Cranford was first published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words edited by Charles Dickens. Inspired by author Elizabeth Gaskell’s (1810-1865) early life in Knutsford in Cheshire where she was raised by an aunt after her mother’s death and father’s subsequent re-marriage, the novel revolves around the narrator Miss Mary Smith and the Amazons of the community: the authoritative Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her kindhearted but timid younger sister Matty, the always well informed Miss Miss Pole and the self-important aristocratic Mrs. Jamieson. This gentle satire of village life does not supply much of a plot – but amazingly it does not matter. Gaskell has the incredible talent of making everyday occurrences and life events totally engrossing. Miss Matty’s conservative friends, the middle-aged spinsters and widows of Cranford, do not want their quaint life and traditions altered one bit. They like Cranford just as it has always been, therefore when the industrial revolution that swept through England in the 1840’s encroaches upon their Shangri-La, they lament and bustle about attempting to do everything in there power to stop the evil railroad’s arrival. Gaskell is a deft tactician at dry humor, not unlike her predecessor Jane Austen, and the comedy in Cranford balanced with a bit of tragedy is its most endearing quality. This unabridged audio book recording is aptly read by Claire Willie whose sensitive and lyrical interpretation of Gaskell’s narrative enhanced my enjoyment of the story by two fold. Her rendering of the different characters with change of timbre and intonation was charmingly effective. My favorite character was of course the kindhearted Miss Matty. Even though she is of a certain age she has a child-like naïveté refreshingly seeing her friends and her world in simple terms. In opposition to our present day lives of cell-phones, blackberries and information overload, a trip to Cranford was a welcome respite. I recommend it highly. 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of author Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell nee Stevenson’s birth on 29 September 1810 in Chelsea, which was then on the outskirts of London. In celebration of her bi-centenary, Naxos AudioBooks will be releasing three additional recordings of her novels: North and South in February again read by Claire Willis, Wives and Daughters in March read by Patience Tomlinson and Cousin Phillis in May read by Joe Marsh. Happily, I will be enjoying many hours of great Gaskell listening this year.Laurel Ann, Austenprose

  • Victoria Minks
    2019-06-08 11:05

    Sigh. Cranford...I just love Cranford. I know it's definitely the kind of book that's not everyone's style but it's just so sweet, and hilarious, and comfortable... It's written in a series of vignettes and it can feel a bit scattered, but maybe that's why I like it. It feels real-- like a friend is writing you bits and pieces of a place she loves. Just... Captain Brown!!! ;( I love so many of the characters in the book and their oh-so-subtle quirks and funniness. Miss Pole is by far my favorite of the ladies-- Captain Brown is a true gentleman... Peter is just great... Martha and Jem are so so sweet... Miss Matty and Mr. Holbrook and all the rest are adorable. This book felt homey to me and has a special place in my heart. However, if you're not into slow books, or 'vignette' books, or books with a heavy emphasis on characters then it's probably not your style. It IS slow. And the humor is quite subtle most the time. But if you like to just sit down to enjoy something leisurely and can catch the little hilarious bits, and love good, strong (if understated) characters, then you'll really like it. :)

  • J. Boo
    2019-05-31 09:49

    I read once that the purpose of literature was to allow you to meet people that you'd never get the chance to otherwise. In Cranford, it's Victorian ladies d'un certain age, living in genteel poverty and doing their best to keep up appearances. It's a wonderful book, with many humorous scenes, and while Gaskell pokes fun at her characters, nevertheless she likes them, and so will you. A few samples:"I was right. I think that must be an hereditary quality, for my father says he is scarcely ever wrong. "“I’ll not listen to reason[...] Reason always means what someone else has got to say.""[A] little credulity helps one on through life very smoothly - better than always doubting and doubting and seeing difficulties and disagreeables in everything."[While looking through some old love letters] The worthy rector seemed to be strung up [...] to a high literary pitch, for he could hardly write a letter to his wife without cropping out into Latin. I remember the end of one of his letters ran thus: “I shall ever hold the virtuous qualities of my Molly in remembrance, dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus regit artus,” which, considering that the English of his correspondent was sometimes at fault in grammar, and often in spelling, might be taken as a proof of how much he “idealised his Molly;” [...] But this was nothing to a fit of writing classical poetry which soon seized him, in which his Molly figured away as “Maria.” The letter containing the carmen was endorsed by her, “Hebrew verses sent me by my honoured husband. I thowt to have had a letter about killing the pig, but must wait."