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Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford (1851)

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,804882,081 (3.81)504
  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 83 (next | show all)
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 |
This is a lovely story set in the fictional English country town of Cranford, portraying the lives of two elderly spinster sisters, as well as customs and way of life of the mid-19th century. Cranford is based on Elizabeth Gaskell's childhood home and some of the people of Cranford surely must be modelled on the author's recollections. What really fascinated me was that this is a snapshot of a time gone by, complete with very minute details about everyday life, as Gaskell would have experienced it herself. I particulary enjoyed the appendix on the fashions of the day, also excerpts from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management and a very detailed glossary at the end. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is a cute book written in the mid-1800's, and it really shows the difference in society at that time and how people (in England, at least) thought about class and everyone's societal position. ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
I only started reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell as it was the book of the month in my bookgroup and I had a copy sitting on my bookshelf. It had been there for more years than I care to think about and I needed this prompt to start me reading otherwise it would have remained unread and unloved forever which would have been a great pity.

Cranford showcases the lives of a group of women living in a small country town in Northern England during the mid C1800s. The women are all single, either unmarried or widowed. They belong to a social class that disapproves of women who work for a living, however these women do not have enough income to take life easy and must consider carefully how every penny is spent while keeping up the appearance of not having a care in the world regarding money.

The story centres around Miss Matty and is told in a series of brief episodes that confirm that all life can be observed in a small country town. It is told with obvious affection for Miss Matty and at times it is extremely amusing with a great deal of subtle humour. At other moments it is serious such as when the bank Miss Matty has entrusted with her lifesavings becomes bankrupt. The effect this has on Miss Matty and the way her friends come to her aid is incredibly moving but serves to emphasise the strict rules that governed the behaviour of women of that time.

I very much recommend that you get hold of this book and read it as soon as you can. If all the five star reviews on various book blogs haven’t persuaded you to part with your money this book is available as a free download from most major online book retailers and it is worth the effort to get hold of. ( )
  Prairieblossom | Jan 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
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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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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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