Diana's Reviews > Cranford

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
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Feb 19, 12

bookshelves: own-it, classics, feminism, victorian, british
Recommended to Diana by: The BBC
Read in February, 2012

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 it can be a bit heavy. Consequently, I was blown away by how well Gaskell wrote a humorous tale. At certain points, I was unable to stop my laughter. There are several characters who make you smile while simultaneously warming your heart.

While 'Cranford' may, at first glance, seem to be about nothing, Gaskell has done something quite groundbreaking with this novel. As a town where its chief members are middle-class, single women who have little regard for the goings-on outside their insulated community, Cranford is almost matriarchal. And when compared with the world outside, Gaskell clearly suggests it is not Cranford that is to be found wanting. In fact, the way in which she highlights the lives of single women in the Victorian period is quite brilliant. Women who seem to be old-fashioned snobs prove to be strong, compassionate, caring, and self-sufficient. Witnessing the way in which these women cared for each other made me quite emotional.

Overall, 'Cranford' is a delightful place to visit, and I was sad when forced to leave. Having been enchanted by both 'Cranford' and 'North and South', I am eager to further acquaint myself with this amazing author. (First reading: September 2009)

I am thrilled to find Gaskell's novel just as charming the second time around. I will always treasure the time I have spent in Cranford -- and look forward to future visits. I feel confident they will be many. (Second reading: 20 February 2012)
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message 1: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley I love this review. I am even more excited to read Cranford now. And again, I think Elizabeth Gaskell should be in your academic future. :)


Diana Oh, thank you. I'm glad my ramblings could do that for you. After our chat, I've tried to keep up on my reading. I've started a new book, and today I read Sherlock Holmes short story that was a lot of fun. Are you enjoying the 'Hunger Games' sequel? xx


message 3: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley Ah, Sherlock Holmes. Fantastic. I just finished Catching Fire last night. I really liked it, though you're right about the MAJOR cliffhanger. I'll be in touch to discuss further.


Christopher H. Great review, Diana! Cranford is a great novel for all of the reasons you've articulated. If you haven't already, make sure you read Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters. I love that novel so much. It is very Austenesque in some respects, and you'll so fall in love with book's main protagonist, Molly Gibson. Cheers! Chris


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