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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  38,160 ratings  ·  2,559 reviews
'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
Paperback, 257 pages
Published June 30th 2005 by Penguin Classics (first published June 1853)
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ohlapislazuli Yes, it´s amazing! Really classy and clever.

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  38,160 ratings  ·  2,559 reviews

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Steven Godin
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written as a series of vignettes about living in a small English town, Elizabeth Gaskell isn't bothered about any plot with Cranford (which was originally edited by Charles Dickens), she simply focuses on a small group of ladies and their adventures (or lack of), as they meander, yawn, and gossip their way through mid 19th century life. While it may not be the sort of book to keep you up half the night with clammy hands, it's pleasant and good old-fashioned nature is where it's power lies, which ...more
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brittish-lit
Cranford is quite an unusual book. Having read North and South and Wives and Daughters , this novel (if you can call it one) took me by surprise. To begin with, it has no proper plot or structure. It is rather a written collection of lives, customs, and social values of people of a fictitious town called "Cranford" which is modelled after the small Cheshire town of Knutsford.

At first, I thought it is a collection of short stories. But as I read on, I found connectivity between the chapters
Ahmad Sharabiani
Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford is one of the better-known novels of the 19th-century English writer Elizabeth Gaskell. There is no real plot, but rather a collection of satirical sketches, which sympathetically portray changing small town customs and values in mid Victorian England.

Harkening back to memories of her childhood in the small Cheshire town of Knutsford, Cranford is Elizabeth Gaskell's affectionate portrait of people and customs that were already becoming anachronisms.
Chapter 1
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I ended up loving this book so much! You follow a group of (older) women, mainly unmarried or widowed, in the small 'rural backwater of Cranford', and it's alot of talking, gossiping and dipping in and out of lives. It was a very funny book, my favourite line being, "My father was a man, and I know the sex pretty well." (It is probably much funnier in context, but I've had it popping into my head constantly over the day). Amongst all their obsession with each others lives are some very poignant ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up.

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 pige
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it
I spent a week with the inhabitants of Cranford, a small village in Victorian North West England, a traditional community steeped in the code of gentility, and am glad to return to modern civilization.

Set in the 1840s, this novel offered interesting glimpses into the social mores of a female dominated village. The single and widowed middle class female inhabitants put great store by propriety and maintaining an appearance of refinement. There were rules that regulated social visits and returnin
Helene Jeppesen
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 see
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy nineteenth-century portraits
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 ...more
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 nar
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

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
This short tale by Elizabeth Gaskell portrays life in the middle 1800s in a rural English community modeled on Cheshire, a county in northwestern England. It focuses on the lives of women. The men in the village always disappear--either they die, or they quite simply go somewhere else. Underlying the fantasy of such a place ever existing are elements of down-to-earth reality, elements depicting the difficulties women of that era had to deal with. What was required of a woman to survive if left w ...more
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
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 t
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
"ADDG, with the leniency of someone who has been unjust in the first place, considered that Haggard's nerves might have been overtaxed...

'I think I'll advise him to read a few chapters of Cranford every night before he retires to bed. ai've been doing that myself ever since Munich. I think, you know, that Mrs Gaskell would have been glad to know that.'

The whole notion was comforting..." (Penelope Fitzgerald, Human Voices)

Comforting is exactly the right word. Gentle people, gentle manners, gentle
Katie Lumsden
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!)
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was published in 1853 and it is based in part on the author’s recollection of her childhood in the town of Knutsford.

I am definitely in a Victorian mood, thanks to the course I am currently taking.

This book revolves around the small town of Cranford and primarily its women. There seem to be very few men in this town. It is the kind of place where everyone knows each other’s business and a place with dedicated rules for its residents. It is a book that is an exploration of day to day li
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1800-1900, reviewed
I started Cranford in low-expectation mode, as a piece of invalid reading, to read while I was languishing with a bad cold (the literary equivalent of the unalluring “bread-jelly” that one of the old-biddy protagonists of Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1853 novel likes to inflict on her ailing neighbours). “Cosy” is a rather offputting term used in book marketing, so you can have “cosy detective novels” and—more disturbingly—"cosy crime novels” and “cosy murder mysteries.” I had always had the impression t ...more
Lois Bujold
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 infiltrat
Dec 25, 2019 marked it as unable-to-finish
Shelves: audiobook
Enough! I'm almost to the half-way point but cannot take one more enervating moment in the stifling drawing rooms of Cranford. ...more
Jason Koivu
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Victorian values in small town England are skewered. Gaskell's lampooning of old biddies is razor-sharp in the first portion of Cranford. It dulls a bit and the story bogs down in the middle. By the end, the mocking is over and you're pulling for a happy ending. ...more
May 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Meh. Having never read Elizabeth Gaskell before, I feel that perhaps this was the wrong book to start with. It seemed like a never ending story about nothing in particular. No real plot and the characters were marginal and annoying. ...more
Lori Keeton
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up

Cranford was my first Elizabeth Gaskell experience and I daresay, it will not be my last. I quite enjoyed reading about the middle-aged spinster sisters, Miss Matty and Miss Deborah who live in the small village of Cranford. It is a quaint 19th century village in which the female inhabitants live by the proprieties common to the times. Rules must be followed and abided or gossip ensues. In Cranford, there are few men to be found and that is just fine with the spinsters.

...the ladi
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. ...more
Delightful! This is going on my favorites shelf.
Mar 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Renee M
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
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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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