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Cranford

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  20,794 ratings  ·  1,289 reviews
In the delicately impoverished town of Cranford, everyone is keen to know everyone else's business. The community is almost devoid of men, and in their place a solid matriarchy has formed. Manners must be observed, house calls must not exceed a quarter of an hour, and neither money matters nor death may be discussed in public. But the peace is often disturbed. Rumoured bur ...more
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published (first published 1851)
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Sue
"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 int
...more
Vanessa
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
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Sunday


HOW I LOVED THIS BOOK. I've started drinking nothing but tea with a little cream and sugar at this point. So well written and adorable. But tapered with this sadly nostalgic idea that the cottage-and-lace England was fading away into something that ran on steam and could carry a million pounds of cotton. (I'm talking about a train here.) This book was a goddamn joy to read, I tell you, a goddamn DELIGHT.

Miss Matty was an ideal-ideal character. Layered like a 10-layer coconut cake on a Food Netwo
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Kim

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
...more
Inder
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
...more
Laurel Hicks
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
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 ...more
Lois Bujold
I picked this up due to a review by Jo Walton on Tor.com. 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 infiltrat
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Ellie
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
...more
Agnieszka
Wonderfully old-fashioned, warm. Reading, all the time I felt a smile on my face. This world is gone, these old ladies and widows who are not bitter, these teas, conventions that are used here not exclude anyone from the community.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
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!
Katherine
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 rela
...more
Laurel
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 ...more
Alex
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
...more
Arukiyomi
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
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Anita
Step away from Persuasion Austen lovers. Put down the 15th rereading of Pride and Prejudice. Jump ahead to a new century and read Cranford. This witty exploration of a sleepy English town where the women have a rigid caste system is lovingly and laughingly portrayed, and it will make your heart glad. You will love Miss Mattie and the others as they keep up conventions amidst flies in the system's ointment as people they love make poor decisions, i.e. marrying beneath them (or sometimes marrying ...more
Bob Arnold
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 ...more
Peggy
Entertaining novel that depicts social relationships among the respectable classes in the early mid-nineteenth century. The first sentence drew me in completely, "In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women." Gaskell goes on to describe the genteel poverty of the town. The code of social conduct forbids its inhabitants to admit to their limited circumstances, so each pretends to be of more comfortable means, all the while ...more
Diana
Feb 19, 2012 Diana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Diana by: The BBC
After wading my way through a few duds, I was thrilled to read a true gem. I tried reading this once before. However, I was expecting a linear narrative and was therefore unprepared for this anecdotal novel. After watching the BBC miniseries (which, by the way, was excellent), I had a better idea of what to expect.

Prior to 'Cranford' my only experience with Elizabeth Gaskell was 'North and South.' Although 'North and South' is undoubtedly one of my favorite books, as a novel littered by death i
...more
Sheri
I liked it, but I liked Mary Barton better. As others have remarked, rather than a novel it is really a set of vignettes about the women of Cranford.

I was not sure about the characterization of Cranford as Amazonian; while the male characters are not sufficiently important, they do exist. The focus was on female society and several comments about the superiority of spinsterhood are unusual ("A man....is so in the way in the house" and "although she would have despised the modern idea of women be
...more
Pink
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.
Whitney
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell is a collection of short stories surrounding the small town of Cranford and the eccentric women who live there.

As I said, Cranford is a small town which is high in the population of female. In the first section of the book, every male who enters the town drops like flies making it feel jinxed or like an old fashioned sorority.

Elizabeth Gaskell's novel is a sequence of short stories that all intertwine. I'm typically not a short story reader so it took me a while to
...more
Ali Nazifpour
To describe this novel in one expression, one can call it "true to life". It is one of the most realistic novels I've read, and I mean the word in its strictest sense. The tone of the narrator is seamless and natural, as if she really is talking to you, and the episodic nature of the novel reinforces the effect that you are listening to a woman in person who has taken your hand and is walking you through the memory lane. The characters of the novel are not larger than life and they do not touch ...more
Melissa
I didn't love Cranford at first. It felt trivial and slow. But half way through the book I realized that I loved these characters, our narrator Miss Smith, the gossipy Miss Pole and most of all, the gentle, trusting Miss Matty.

The book is made up of 16 chapters; each chronicles a small event in the quiet English town of Cranford in the 1840s. The women in the town are a tight-knit group, skeptical of outsiders and protective of each other. There are many humorous sections with mistaken identiti
...more
bea
I was at first puzzled by the narrator's description of Cranford as a town of Amazons, populated mainly by women. There appeared to be plenty of male characters, and the women--an assortment of Victorian spinsters and elderly widows--hardly seemed warriorlike. Yet while Gaskell describes her characters' eccentricities and petty concerns with sympathetic humor, she also conveys immense admiration for women's courage and resilience in the face of loss, for how women deal with social constraints, a ...more
K.M. Weiland
I knew going into this book that the BBC miniseries by the same name had been only loosely based upon the book. I also knew the book was more a series of vignettes than a plotted story. So I was prepared for what some readers have considered its downfalls. All I can say is it is CHARMING. It had me laughing from the very first paragraph. The characters are a delight and the vignettes are sparkling from beginning to end. Gaskell refers often to Dickens's Pickwick Papers; in my opinion, this is Ga ...more
Leslie
4 stars. I like the light humor & pathos in this novel, very similar in style to Jane Austen, Angela Thirkell or Miss Read. Much more of a fun read compared to Gaskell's North and South

Nadia May does a good narration in this audiobook edition.
...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Mrs Gaskell is making a comeback. And not just with my online Trollope group, which has been reading Cranford recently and comparing – or rather, contrasting – it with Trollope’s novels. Libraries are acquiring her novels, many are on the shelves of bookstores, and all are easily available through amazon.com. The BBC has produced excellent, and very popular, made-for-TV series of Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters. My alerts with Google and the NY Times pop up with Gaskell as oft ...more
Beth
In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders above houses of a certain rent are women. If a married couple comes to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the great neighbouring commercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on a railroad. In ...more
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1413437
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
More about Elizabeth Gaskell...
North and South Wives and Daughters Mary Barton The Life of Charlotte Brontë Ruth

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“I'll not listen to reason... reason always means what someone else has got to say.” 160 likes
“Out of the way! We are in the throes of an exceptional emergency! This is no occassion for sport- there is lace at stake!" (Ms. Pole)” 74 likes
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