Saturday, September 26, 2009


Gaskell, Elizabeth. 1853. Cranford. 293 pages.

In the first place, Cranford is in possessions of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women. If a married couple come to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the great neighboring commercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on railroad. In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, they are not at Cranford. What could they do if they were there? The surgeon has his round of thirty miles, and sleeps at Cranford; but every man cannot be a surgeon.

How did I like Cranford (the book that is!)? Well, I found it charming in some ways--many ways I suppose. It is old-fashioned. It is written with the focus being on characters that are characters--if you know what I mean! If the book has a weakness, it would be that there isn't one great plot. There are a few strains of plot connecting the chapters at times. But overall, these chapters are just loosely connected. Shared characters, of course, and shared tone--heartfelt and genuine. The book is many things. It can be funny. It can be witty. It can be heartbreaking. It can be sweet. Is that enough to interest modern readers? Maybe. Especially with the movie being released recently. But this style of storytelling--as wonderful as it can be--doesn't always mean that the book is hard to put down. There isn't this urgency to read it. That doesn't mean that it isn't interesting in its own way. But it's more here a chapter, there a chapter than anything else.

So what is the book about? Well, it's about friendship. It's about life. There is some talk of gossip and parties and fashion and such. It's about manners, society, and class.

The central character--in many ways--is a little old maid Miss Matty. Though she would never in a million years place herself in the center of the community, she is in many ways the heart of the community. And what this community does to show their's really touching. But I'll say no more about that!

This is my second Gaskell novel. I've also read and reviewed Wives and Daughters. While I enjoyed Cranford (it's much, much shorter than Wives and Daughters) I think I prefer Wives and Daughters more.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Ladytink_534 3:06 PM  

I've never heard of this before but I might try the movie one day since I like several of the actors. Great review!

Laura's Reviews 3:36 PM  

I agree with you - I enjoyed Cranford, but I loved Wives and Daughters. I also read Lady Ludlow and other stories, which filled in the gaps if you enjoyed the Cranford mini-series.

Sarah M. 7:33 PM  

Ooh! Another Gaskell fan! :)

Great review. I started reading Mrs. Gaskell in early 2008 and immediately became a fan. If you enjoyed Wives and Daughters you will probably really enjoy North and South.

If you're interested you can read my reviews here:

Janssen 9:48 PM  

Have you seen the movie? Oh, it's so so good!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours 3:51 PM  

Thanks for participating in the read-a-long! This is my first Gaskell novel and I will definitely be reading more by her.

I'll be posting links to everyone's reviews on 9/30 so be sure to check them all out. :)

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP