Nona's Reviews > Cranford

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
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Aug 21, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: comedy
Read from August 17 to 21, 2011

I loved this gentle, amusing book.

It is set at the turn of the 19th century and deals with the clique of mainly older widowed or spinster women rather set in their ways in the town of Cranford. It is seen through the eyes of the younger narrator Mary Smith. Mary often visits the town & stays with the spinster daughters of a previous rector, the autocratic Miss Jenkyns & the gentle, diffident Miss Matty, who is the main character of the book and is easily led by the rest of the women.
Mrs Jameison is the snob and most of the women tend to follow her lead.The subject of money is never mentioned as it was attributed to 'commerce & trade' and looked down upon by the aristocratic yet poor women of Cranford. The social hierarchy is strictly adhered to and the snobbishness & sometimes ridiculous social mores had me laughing out loud.

This 'gentlity & poverty'is shown in visit by the women to Mrs Forrester who pretends not to know what cakes will be served to her guests - 'though she knew, and we knew, and she knew that we knew, and we knew that she knew that we knew, she had been busy all the morning making tea-bread and spongecakes'.

The book is a series of anecdotes showing pathos, witticism & compassion. We see the lives of the women of an earlier age trying to keep up the customs and appearances of the old order in a rapidly changing world.
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Quotes Nona Liked

Elizabeth Gaskell
“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)”
Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford

Elizabeth Gaskell
“When oranges came in, a curious proceeding was gone through. Miss Jenkyns did not like to cut the fruit, for, as she observed, the juice all ran out nobody knew where, sucking [only I think she used some more recondite word] was in fact the only way of enjoying oranges; but then there was the unpleasant association with a ceremony frequently gone through by little babies; and so, after dessert, in orange season, Miss Jenkyns and Miss Matty used to rise up, possess themselves each of an orange in silence, and withdraw to the privacy of their own rooms to indulge in sucking oranges.”
Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford

Elizabeth Gaskell
“An old lady had an Alderney cow, which she looked upon as a daughter. ....The whole town knew and kindly regarded Miss Betsy Barker's Alderney, therefore great was the sympathy and regret when, in an unguarded moment, the poor cow fell into a lime-pit. She moaned so loudly that she was soon heard and rescued; but meanwhile the poor beast had lost most of her hair and came out looking naked, cold and miserable, in a bare skin. Everybody pitied the animal, though a few could not restrain their smiles at her droll appearance. Miss Betsy Barker absolutely cried with sorrow and dismay; and it was said she thought of trying a bath of oil. This remedy, perhaps, was recommended by some one of the number whose advice she asked; but the proposal, if ever it was made, was knocked on the head by Captain Brown's decided "Get her a flannel waistcoat and flannel drawers, ma'am, if you wish to keep her alive, But my advice is, kill the poor creature at once."
Miss Betsy Barker dried her eyes, and thanked the Captain heartily; she set to work, and by-and-by all the town turned out to see the Alderney meekly going to her pasture, clad in dark grey flannel.I have watched her myself many a time. Do you ever see cows dressed in grey flannel in London?”
Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford

Elizabeth Gaskell
“Mrs Forrester ... sat in state, pretending not to know what cakes were sent up, though she knew, and we knew, and she knew that we knew, and we knew that she knew that we knew, she had been busy all the morning making tea-bread and sponge-cakes.”
Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford


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