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chesilbeach

Cheshire - Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

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CHESHIRE
 
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
 
Synopsis:
Mary Smith and her friends live in Cranford, a town predominantly inhabited by women. The return of a long-lost brother named Peter is the most dramatic event to occur over the course of the sixteen tales that comprise the novel. Elizabeth Gaskell’s “Cranford” is an ironic portrayal of female life in a secluded English village.
 
 
Other Cheshire books:
 

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Copied from my blog:

 

Cranford contains lots of vignettes, all centering around Miss Matilda ‘Matty’ Jenkyns and her older sister, and is narrated by Mary Smith, who is a regular visitor to the town. Although each chapter is a different story they are all linked by the characters and situations of the townsfolk. I loved this book so much. Who could help but fall in love with Miss Matty, or fail to be amused by the antics of Miss Pole and the aristocratic Mrs Jamieson or the faithful maid Martha? It’s a comedy of manners that takes a wry look at the antics of the rural upper-middle classes. Delightful stuff and I’m definitely going to read the other stories set in Cranford or featuring characters from there - My Lady Ludlow, Mr Harrison's Confessions and The Cage at Cranford which weren’t included in my edition.

I listened to the audio book which is brilliantly narrated by Prunella Scales. It’s very sad that she now has dementia – she made a marvellous storyteller. :(

After listening I purchased the DVDs of the BBC TV series. Although I watched them when they were on television (2007 and 2009) I didn’t remember much about their content, apart from Miss Matty being excellently portrayed by Judi Dench, and her sister Deborah who was played to perfection by Eileen Atkins. It was very enjoyable even if it took one or two liberties with the story (or maybe just feature stories from those short-stories I mention above) and the casting was sublime - especially Imelda Staunton’s hysterical portrayal of Miss Pole!

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(Copied from my blog) I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as you, J :(


 


I read this in February   :blush2:  but am just reviewing now. I picked up my first Gaskell last year as part of the English Counties Challenge, and thoroughly enjoyed it - North and South - so I came to this one with high expectations. 


 


But it just didn't resonate on the same level. North and South maybe spoke to me more what with its themes of social justice, industry, the city, north and south divide etc, but there was so much more meat on the bones, and I didn't get nearly so much out of Cranford, I'm sorry to report. 


 


There is some gentle humour here with the attitudes of the time, and it is refreshing to see so many women - particularly elder single women - at the forefront of literature. But this is a series of short stories of small town life, and it plods along nicely without too much happening. I enjoyed the read and I am glad I read it, and it certainly gives a glimpse of Victorian rural life. The characters are interesting and Gaskell can certainly write. 


 


However, when compared with North and South, and The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett (which represented Staffordshire) it just didn't bring so much to the party. A very different book I grant you, and it's certainly stood the test of time and a TV series, but not one which I relished so much as the previous two novels I mentioned. 


 


3/5 (I liked it)


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But it just didn't resonate on the same level.

 

I couldn't agree more.  After North and South and Mary Barton, this was something of a mild disappointment.  It was all those things you say, gently humorous, refreshingly populated with a predominantly female cast etc etc., but it didn't quite match what else of hers I had (and have) read.  Mind you, it looks like I have The Old Wives' Tale to look forward to!

 

Edited by willoyd

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