Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
On the Shelves: Fiction> Classics
Cranford is an affectionate and often moving portrait of genteel poverty and intertwined lives in a nineteenth-century village. One of Elizabeth Gaskell’s most beloved works, it centres on a community dominated by women and governed by old-fashioned ways. The formidable Miss Deborah Jenkyns and the kindly Miss Matty’s days revolve around card games, tea, thriftiness and an endless appetite for scandal, until change comes into their world – whether it is the modern ideas of Captain Brown, a bank collapse, rumours of burglars or an unexpected reappearance from the past. (Goodreads 2014)
Cranford is my second book by Elizabeth Gaskell, and I have to say, after loving North and South, Cranford fell quite a bit short on the scale. I found it to be a little disappointing, which is a shame because it started out quite strongly. Cranford follows a small English village which is run entirely by the society of the women who live there, rather than the gentlemen and their businesses. While it is full of Gaskell’s sarcasm and biting commentary on the place of women in English society, there doesn’t seem to really be very much else. To be fair, Cranford is a small book at around 220 pages and the chapters are little snippets into various characters lives and the occurances around them, so there isn’t very much depth into the events. There is also not really a fluid concept of time- one chapter weeks will have passed, and the next it could have been months or years.
I’m struggling to review this because I didn’t really grasp all that happened throughout the book. I plan to re-read this in the future, when I’m less busy, as I feel like the reason I didn’t get thoroughly engrossed in this is because it read it as a “train book” (aka a chapter or two a day on my way to work!), but to be honest, I think Cranford is just a little bit of a miss for me, personally.
I’d much rather recommend North and South over this one.