Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

6534328Another Classics Club choice moved over to the read column! As always, I enjoyed my time spent with Gaskell and her characters. My edition is the Penguin Clothbound and I’m in love with the green end papers. I now want something in my house that is exactly that shade of green.

Cranford is the story of Cranford. Ha! Cranford is a small town in England with a mostly female population. And as with most Victorian literature, there is a lot of society gossip, money, and class discussions. Each chapter relays a town anecdote, particularly those events which surround Miss Mattie – an old maid and a delightfully endearing lady. Our narrator, Miss Smith, is reliable, witty, and someone who adores Miss Mattie just as much as her readers.

Being that this was my third Gaskell, I was immediately comfortable with her writing style and still think she writes some of the most accessible Victorian literature. Cranford’s story isn’t deep with any symbolic meaning and is often light, funny, and just plain enjoyable to read. The tribe of female characters we get to know range from catty to completely selfless and realistically reflect the many kinds of women who exist in any town in all the world. At roughly 190 pages, Cranford is a novel you visit briefly and hope to one day return to.

What was most appealing to me was Gaskell’s humor. I smirked often at some little bit of hilarity and laughed out loud more than once at some biting turn of phrase. Gaskell is such a keen observationist (not a word, apparently) and gifted storyteller. You often believe you are looking directly through her eyes at the goings on. Her talent makes her humor all the more effortless and genuine. Plus, it never hurts to root for the happiness of a book’s main characters and to laugh alongside them in their many trials, tribulations, and joys.

I don’t think Cranford will ever be my favorite Gaskell novel, but I still enjoyed my time and reading experience. And I’m sure I’ll find myself deep within its pages in another few years when I’m feeling an itch for lighter Victorian fare. Wives and Daughters might always remain my favorite – most likely due to its luckiness at being my first Gaskell. If you haven’t read anything by Gaskell, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. Add something of hers to your classics list today!


Gaskell is often compared to Austen and with Cranford the comparisons ring very true.


17 thoughts on “Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

  1. Great review! North and South was my first (and still only) Gaskell novel – I loved it. Cranford is on my shelf and it sounds wonderful, so will probably be next. I’m really looking forward to Wives and Daughters, too.

  2. Interesting! I’m in the middle of North and South (reading it for the first time), and I have yet to read Gaskell’s other works. I’m enjoying North and South so far.

  3. I have this book on audio, and need to listen to it. Yours isn’t the first voice that I have heard extolling it’s virtues, and I aim to get to it very soon. I LOVED Wives and Daughters, and think it’s time for a reread. It’s been about 10 years or so. Wonderful review today!

  4. this was my first Gaskell novel and i wasn’t wowed by it. luckily someone recommended north and south which i thoroughly enjoyed. haven’t got to read wives and daughters yet

  5. Pingback: North and South or Margaret Hale: How Much Control Should Authors Have? | The Misfortune Of Knowing

  6. Pingback: The Classics Club: Wherein I Cave and Join… | The Blog of Litwits

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