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The Cranford Novellas (Girlebooks Classics)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  741 ratings  ·  78 reviews
The TV tie-in edition to the BBC adaptation, starring Judi Dench.

Based on three Elizabeth Gaskell novels, The Cranford Chronicles follows the small absurdities and major tragedies in the lives of the people of Cranford, a small Cheshire market town, during one extraordinary year.
In this witty and poignant story, the railway is pushing its way relentlessly towards the town
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Kindle Edition
Published October 19th 2008 by Girlebooks (first published January 1st 1981)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,850)
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Kathryn
This is actually a collection of the three short books BBC adapted for their "Cranford" miniseries: Dr. Harrison's Confessions, Cranford, & My Lady Ludlow.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first two. The stories of these small town people are alternately amusing and heartbreaking, and the character of Miss Matty in "Cranford" is so beautifully done. Not a big action or drama book, but tender and comfortable & uplifting.
"My Lady Ludlow" was not my favorite because there wasn't any real pl
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Fiona
The Cranford Chronicles consists of three short stories:

Mr Harrison's Confessions (the shortest)
Cranford
My Lady Ludlow

They are all separate stories but set in the same sort of place - mainly a small northern town where the population happens to be many unmarried women who all seem half afraid of getting married or desperate to.

Mr Harrison's Confessions is about a young surgeon who comes to work in a new town and his introduction to the town folk. He is a nice young man, maybe a bit impressionab
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Elaine
I have read this very slowly, mainly because it is a slowly moving book in which not a great deal happens! The book holds three stories of life among the aristocracy whose life consists of tea parties, talk of fashion, gossip the desirability or not of marriage and little else.They are written with gentle wit and the characters are drawn brilliantly.
It made me aware of what a child of my time I am as the insufferable snobbery of the aristocracy and those from a "good family" really annoyed me,d
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K.
I read "Cranford" a couple of years ago. Liked it a lot, didn't feel quite finished. Saw the movie and said "Wow! that was great--but there was sure a lot in it I don't remember from the book!"

So, I was so excited to finally read what I thought was the "whole" book of Cranford life...as the title suggests.

Too bad, so sad. Most of the movie is actually taken from "Mr. Harrison's Confessions" and "My Lady Ludlow" and not "Cranford" at all--and they are all completely unrelated short novels. The f
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Yara
Since this is a collection, I'll judge each work separately:

Cranford and The Cage at Cranford

"Quaint" is the word that comes to mind. Gaskell documents the everyday gossip and troubles of a small town run almost entirely by women. She knows exactly where to find the ridiculous and the hysterical in their actions and speech, but never turns meanspirited. Above all, Gaskell shows herself to be incredibly fond of her characters and their disappearing lifestyle, and this warmth glows in every word o
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Maali
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
I thoroughly enjoyed the first two works in this collection, Cranford and Mr. Harrison's Confessions. (The first was the basis for the recent miniseries Cranford starring Judi Dench.) Both tell of life in a small, out-of-the way English town in the beginning of the 19th Century, roughly around the time Jane Austin's novels are set. While they are concerned with the domestic sphere, in tone they have more in common with Charles Dickens, although the themes are not as sweeping, as we follow the li ...more
Kalika
This is actually three books: Mr. Harrison's Confessions, Cranford, and My Lady Ludlow. As someone who devours 19th Century English literature, especially of the kind that details life in a small town or village, I don't know how I had missed reading this till now. I had seen the BBC series sometime back.
I quite enjoyed the first two stories, the third was a little meandering without a strong plot. Fascinating how certain words are used and some of the customs that seem so quaint now. And how Cr
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Bonn
So this volume is technically three in one. Dr. Harrison's Confessions is hilarious. Cranford is equally entertaining; it contains some fantastic characters. (Who doesn't adore Miss Mattie, and thouroughly enjoy Miss Pole?!) Cranford is particularly chock full of the tiniest little anecdotes, such as the tale of the cat and the lace, that are just hidden gems. My Lady Ludlow is a totally different pace, but with the same social commentary goal about life in a small village. This all being said ...more
Anne
One of those instances in which the film version is better than the book. The first two chronicles, about Dr. Harrison's love life and about the ladies of Cranford, are good and I think there's enough in the book that's not in the film version to warrant recommending that you read them. The third chronicle, about Lady Ludlow, is hard to get through because it's so boring. It goes on and on about things that simply don't engage you at all. Yes, it has a lot of information that's not in the film v ...more
Laura
January 2010 pick for my book club.

This edition of the books contains the three short stories that were combined to make the miniseries 'Cranford'. Each story is essentially a memoir of the narrator recalling events from an earlier part of their life. I've reviewed each story separately and my rating is the average of the three (3.5 stars rounded to 4...I wish we could use halvsies).

Mr. Harrison's Confessions (3.5 stars)
A doctor recalling his first professional job in a small town and the confus
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Teresa
We were traveling a bit while reading this, so the length of time it took me to read this was more about that than the book. I enjoyed the stories of Mr Harrison's Confessions and My Lady Ludlow, but not as much as Cranford itself. Mr. Harrison's Confessions was cute and funny. The love for Lady Ludlow and the positive display of the warm and generous side of her character were well balanced against her staunch believe in the class system which waned as the book progressed. The book did get a bi ...more
Melissa
This is the first Elizabeth Gaskell I have read and I enjoyed it very much. She is a contemporary of Charles Dickens and published her work in two of the magazines Dickens edited.

Cranford is very much a woman's view of small town life amidst a particular class of unmarried women who came from some money and privilege but now must live very carefully to stay within their modest means. But they agree among themselves that they are truly happier living in this style and that they cannot imagine ho
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Jane
I started reading this and a short story (Bartleby the Scrivner) by Herman Melville at about the same time. And although written about the same time not even close when it comes to writing style. Melville is wordy and smothering in his descriptions and the humor may be there but it was too thin for me to appreciate. Now, Cranford is funny and sweet and talks about friendship and loyalty. The style is light and a little tongue in cheek when setting the stage of life in this little village compris ...more
Kathie
Having just finished reading Wives and Daughters and enjoying it so much I decided to give this author another try. The Cranford Chronicles did not live up to her other book. It seemed a little tedious but contained a few humorous passages.
Grace
2.5 stars

For a classic book this was extremely easy to read although overall I found it a bit boring. This is actually 3 books, the first of which was ok but the story iteself was a bit silly. The second and third books didn't seem to have much of a story to them. Also the characters in all the books were different even though they were all based in Cranford.

Personally I couldn't wait to finish the book. I have read other classics in which the language (olde English) made it difficult to read bu
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Jenn
In a word, I would describe this book as quaint. The town of Cranford is small, and the gentle folk inhabiting it are often mired in their small-town affairs. The characters are, for the most part, good natured busybodies; typically, I find busybody characters difficult to empathize with, but Gaskell's characters are truly sweet and endearing.

The pace of the story matches the town and the people - I found myself reading slowly, able to put the book down for days at a time without feeling compell
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Lynne
I read it because I watched the excellent TV series but it was slow and bitty.
Eleanor
This book is most like a mash-up of Austen + Trollope. The stories are on a small, but very human scale, with the humor at once gentle and sly. A pleasant surprise and I hope to read more by her soon.
Melissa
This book is actually three in one. I'd already read the second book, Cranford, and wanted to read the other two and see how they related. They didn't so I'm not sure why they're grouped together. Aside from that unanswered question, the two stories were enjoyable. The first one especially, Mr. Harrisons' Confessions, was the funniest with a young country doctor who gets caught up in three supposed love affairs, all the while thinking he's acting as a proper gentleman in concealing his true inte ...more
Elizabeth
This is a delightful book. Cranford is my favorite of the three novels included, but what is striking about all three is that they are driven primarily by female characters. In the mid-19th Century world of England in which these novels are set, the fact that male characters are so peripheral is fascinating. I see these as proto-feminist texts, though they don't have particular axes to grind. They are wonderful psychological studies too, and often very funny. A real pleasure to read.
Karen
This book combines the three novellas which are the basis for the excellent BBC miniseries. However, the screenwriters really made changes, rearranging and combining the best bits of all three. Mr. Harrison's Confessions is very close to his storyline; Cranford has some changes but retains the essence of Matty Jenkyns' story; and the final novella, My Lady Ludlow, is actually quite different. Though it's my least favorite, it's still worth reading. The ending is wonderful.
Brigid
Cranford Chronicles as three short stories that cover life in a small English village. Cranford and Mr. Harrison's Confession are sweet and enjoyable stories about the village inhabitants, mostly older unmarried women. Lady Ludwig was a bit of a dirge. You get lost in a substory, though the characters in that story are more likeable. This is written in an old style that is a bit tedious -- super long sentences and paragraphs. Note it took me a year to finish this book.
Christine
After seeing the PBS miniseries on "Cranford" I was excited to read the actual work by Gaskell. The first volume, "Mr Harrison's Confessions" was a delight. After that, I had to read the book in smaller chunks in volume 2, "Cranford," as the style didn't suit me, though wonderfully written. For those fans of the miniseries, the third volume, "My Lady Ludlow," is fascinating. I was glad to find out why Lady Ludlow didn't believe that her lessers should read.
RivkaBelle
I loved the PBS/BBC miniseries of Cranford, and was very excited to read the book. What I discovered was that the writer who prepped everything for the miniseries was a genius - the three novellas that comprised the Cranford Chronicles are totally separate and removed from one another, so to integrate them so seamlessly into the miniseries was amazing. That aside, the book is an enjoyable read and I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in such occupation.
Becky
Elizabeth Gaskell is a super-underrated writer of social novels. Jane Austen-like in her focus on relationships and manners, Gaskell is a little more satirical, and things definitely don't work out perfectly for everyone, making it all the more satisfying when they do.

The first story in the collection is definitely the most light-hearted, with the other two providing a sweet counterpoint.

Overall, very enjoyable, and definitely worth reading.
Adrienne Savoldi
Elizabeth Gaskell is easily one of the most under-appreciated authors in English literature. Her tales of Dr. Harrison, Lady Ludlow, and the women of Cranford are funny, heart-warming, and downright enjoyable. If ever you want to read a book that will make you laugh, as well as touch your heart, then I recommend this book. Also, the BBC film version starring Judi Dench is worth watching.
Meghan
So you've read Jane Austen. Wouldn't you like to spend some more time, not with an Austen heroine, but with Miss Bates, the comically talkative, poverty-stricken spinster in Emma? Reading The Cranford Chronicles is a lot like that. Cranford is a small town, where somehow men never stick around for long and where the women are self-contained and have developed odd habits.
PrairieHome
I was disappointed that it was really three separate storylines.

I did like this line, however:

(The elderly Lady Ludlow was speaking of the youth's scorn of knowledge which the elderly possess.)


"Young people should remember that we have had this solemn experience of life, on which to base our opinions and judgments, so that they are not mere untried theories."
Verity
This is a book of 3 "novellas." After watching a bit of "Cranford" on a PBS channel, I was curious about the book. The first part (Mr. Harrison's Confessions) made me smile; I wanted to laugh out loud in so many places, but I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room! If you like Jane Austen, you'd probably enjoy Elizabeth Gaskell just as much.
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Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to socia ...more
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“What does it signify how we dress here at Cranford, where everybody knows us?" And if they go from home, their reason is equally cogent, "What does it signify how we dress here, where nobody knows us?” 4 likes
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