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Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford (1851)

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,859902,027 (3.8)507
  1. 91
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Both novels offer a similar sort of wry look at the foibles of the English classes in the 18th / 19th centuries. Both are so carefully observed and deliciously written that they remain classics.
  2. 20
    Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson (Staramber)
    Staramber: In Over To Candleford Laura reads Cranford to her Uncle. Although separated by time they both contain everyday descriptions of provincial British life by – largely – passive narrators.
  3. 31
    The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett (InfoQuest)
    InfoQuest: In both Gaskell and Jewett's novels, a young woman (the first-person narrator) comes to visit a rural community in a series of related vignettes. Jewett's is the more poetic, and Gaskell's is the more humorous, but both are lovely little books which center on the experiences and relationships of women in the 19th century.… (more)
  4. 10
    The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy (noveltea)
    noveltea: Two endearing small towns, one British (with links to India), one Indian (with links to Britain).
  5. 10
    Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: In many ways a similar, acutely observed portrait of village life, with an especially keen eye on the upper and middle classes.
  6. 00
    The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt (thorold)
    thorold: Two novels 160 years apart that explore the roles of women by creating a view of the world in which men are peripheral or irrelevant.
  7. 00
    Purely for Pleasure by Margaret Lane (yolana)
  8. 00
    Jane And Prudence by Barbara Pym (chrisharpe)
  9. 00
    Mrs. Ames by E. F. Benson (bell7)
    bell7: This story is similarly concerned with events in a small English town, though the characters' class and life situations are much different.

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Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
Summary: Cranford is a small provincial town that is almost entirely populated by women. (At least among the middle/upper classes.) Some of these women are single, some are widowed, and all of them do their best to maintain a lifestyle appropriate to their station, even though money is tight for almost all of them. But discussing these things is simply not done, of course, if one is to maintain a polite and proper society.

Review: My Jane Austen book club is branching out a little bit, so we picked Cranford as a period-appropriate detour. And, while this book was largely inoffensive, and had some truly memorably funny bits, on the whole, it didn't really stand out for me. I think my largest issue was with the lack of a narrative through-line - there were lots of episodic little vignettes, but no real plot. (I recently learned that this was originally published serially as various interconnected sketches of life in this small town, which makes perfect sense in retrospect.) If I had to point to "the main plot", it didn't show up until about two-thirds of the way through the book, and was basically "Miss Mattie loses her money but because she's been nice to everyone they're all willing to give her stuff for free and then her brother comes back from India rich and they all live happily ever after." Sort of weak sauce, there, plot-wise. I also had a difficult time telling some of the secondary characters apart, and I'm still not sure that I know who the narrator was and why she was important or how she fit into the neighborhood. So, while it wasn't exactly a chore to listen to, it wasn't something that made me want to keep coming back, either. I did watch the mini-series (years ago, now) and liked it well enough; I may have to revisit that to see if it helps at all. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Fans of British literature and British humor of this time period will likely enjoy it, but I found it a little underweight for a supposed classic. ( )
  fyrefly98 | May 21, 2016 |
Cranford is a warm, gently wry look at provincial life in the mid 19th century. On the surface, whimsical and twee, but underneath are knowing winks and nods to the foolish vanity of polite society. Elizabeth Gaskell loves her characters generously, and her ribbing is never other than gentle. Some characters are innocent of the hardness of life, others choose not to acknowledge it.

The book has a big heart. Miss Matty is the focus of everyone's concern and is the gentlest soul who brings out the good in others.

The structure of society, particularly the hierarchies of social standing, are simultaneously important to Cranford's residents and rules to be broken, with the genteel mixing with their servants quite happily. Intrigues and squabbles between the ladies who think themselves grander than they are, are described with a warm humour. Elizabeth Gaskell seems to be winking at us through the pages.

The book is set in the period I deal with at work, and gives a different view to that of commerce and innovation found in the records I look after. This is a society predominantly made up of women, and retired women at that. The narrator is a young woman who divides her time between Cranford and Drumble, the nearest large town. Drumble is based on the city where I work. As an almost outsider, the narrator is able to view the oddness of Cranford society with a twinkle in her eye, and others who appear in the village having experienced life elsewhere do the same.

Nostalgia can be a strange thing. The book made me nostalgic for something I have never known - the quiet life in a village at a period of great economic and social change, where life continues quietly, and residents are often unaware of the kind of events taking place in cities that would eventually bring in the modern era. It isn't a sentimental nostalgia, either. There are no rose tinted spectacles. It is a snapshot of a particular way of life at a particular time in history. ( )
  missizicks | Mar 12, 2016 |
This is a sweet tale of the little old ladies living in a small town in England. It's told from the perspective of a young visitor, including her affectionate yet sly remarks about the quirks of life in Cranford. The story mostly follows Miss Matty, a elderly, dimwitted but incredibly kind spinster. This book is a wonderful slice of life, but there's not great deal to it. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Cranford is a town almost entirely populated by women. Mary Smith, our narrator (whose name we only discover when we are most of the way through the story), is a frequent visitor who as both outsider and insider is able to sketch for us life in town while poking gentle fun at its inhabitants. Of particular interest is Miss Matty Jenkyns, Mary's friend, whose sweet nature and disappointed romance make up much of the story.

Elizabeth Gaskell first published Cranford in serial form, and apparently didn't initially think of it as a book. The first installment was billed as “a self-contained” sketch. Like The Pickwick Papers (which is referred to humorously relatively early on), Cranford is more a series of vignettes and a study of character than a novel. I found it charming, although it had nowhere near the impact on me that her North and South did. I have not seen the recent BBC series, but I expect the book must have been only an inspiration for it, since there's not much plot here. Towards the end, Miss Matty's reduced circumstances, opening of a shop in her home, and sudden return of her long-lost brother reminded me very much of The House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne's book was published right around the time Gaskell started serializing Cranford, and I wonder if it had any influence on her.
  cabegley | Jan 28, 2016 |
Published in the middle of the 19th century, this is inevitably rather dated and rambling. As I read the first couple of chapters on my Kindle, I started wondering when it was going to get to the point, or at least begin the story. There's a lengthy description of the fictional town of Cranford, ruled by middle-class and upper-middle class ladies, and while there was gentle irony in much of the description, I found myself drifting off at times.

However, it gradually gets going, as the narrator - Mary Smith - stays with the delightfully vague Miss Matty, and takes part in the everyday life of her friends. It's a lovely piece of social history, giving glimpses - albeit caricatured - into life in this era, in this kind of small town. I could quite see why it was made into a TV series and also why it was so popular.

There isn't a huge amount of plot; people come and go, rather a large number die (not untypical of the time), and there's an encouraging, if rather coincidental ending.

I'm not strongly inclined to get hold of the sequels, but I enjoyed this as a bit of gentle historical fiction and am glad I read it. Three and a half stars would, perhaps, be fairer. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (57 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Gaskellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Birch, DinahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Du Maurier, GeorgeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingham, PatriciaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ritchie, Anne ThackerayPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scales, PrunellaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomson, HughIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watson, Elizabeth PorgesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women.
'I cannot tell you what the whole quiet picture has for me.' (Introduction)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This book is in public domain in the USA and the e-book is available free online ...

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439882, Paperback)

A gently comic picture of life in an English country town in the mid-nineteenth century, Cranford describes the small adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances. Rich with humor and filled with vividly memorable characters—including the dignified Lady Glenmire and the duplicitous showman Signor Brunoni—Cranford is a portrait of kindness, compassion, and hope.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:37 -0400)

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A portrait of life in a quiet English country town in the mid-nineteenth century follows the adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters living in reduced circumstances.

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9 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439882, 014103937X, 0141199423

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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