CranfordTitle: Cranford

Author: Elizabeth Gaskell

Date Finished: 4/08/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : The Classics Club

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

I’d been looking forward to reading this for quite a while – a gentle, rather short classic that I knew nothing about was appealing and I enjoyed reading it.  The rather slow pace of the story and the busyness of my life at the moment meant I certainly didn’t fly through this book but during my week’s holiday at Lake Garda in Italy I managed to polish it off.

The plot focuses on the fictional town of Cranford and the daily lives of its (mainly female) residents.  It is mostly light-hearted and warm and very different from modern life, so it was quite a refreshing read.  Each chapter seems to focus on a slightly different story which, despite the slow pace, helps to keep the storyline moving.  Some plots were a bit sillier than others but I enjoyed pretty much all the chapters.

The characters are the most memorable feature of the book – Miss Matty, Miss Deborah Jenkyns, the conjuror and more.  They are all very unique and easy to picture; I think Gaskell does very well to paint such vivid portraits of them in such a short book really.  I’d quite like to watch the adaptation of Cranford to see whether they all match up to how I expect them to.  Have any of you seen it?

The setting of Cranford is quite simple, as there aren’t really enough pages to waste time with long passages of describing the town in lots of physical detail but you can picture everything easily nevertheless.  The language is wonderful, of course, and just fits perfectly with the setting.  The way women are rather obviously more important than men in this book (it is no doubt who is in charge of Cranford!) was quite a brave move by Gaskell I think, considering it was published in 1853 and I think behind the cheerful and light-hearted storylines and characters there is quite a powerful message about the roles of women and men at the time.