Jump to content

Recommended Posts

This book sat on my bookshelf for years, and I am so grateful to the BBC's serialisation for prompting me to read it at last.

 

Originally published in parts for Dicken's Household Worlds it describes the personalities and doings of a small market town through the eyes of Mary Smith, a one-time resident and frequent visitor.

 

The social elite of the town are a group of middle aged women. Men are few, being either dead or away on business, so that any that do make an appearance are subject to much interest and speculation. Cranford and its inhabitants are a bit behind the times, genteel and, if a little censorious, well-meaning and kindly.

 

Mary's anecdotes of the small concerns of the main characters (Miss Jenkyns, Miss Matty, Miss Pole) and their friends and acquaintances are mainly amusing, and sometimes downright funny, so that when the occasional disaster or small tragedy occurs the contrast is quite moving.

 

There is a huge coincidence, so loved of many Victorian writers, which helps bring a satisfactory conclusion to the story. It is a convention I enjoy quite as much as the original readers, and it in no way spoils a story from this period for me.

 

Cranford has been one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mrs. Gaskell's 'Cranford' is a great book to take one out of oneself when real-world aggravations press too close. But the book is much more than escapism, being more-or-less a write-up of the writer's fond memories of her lengthy youthful stay at Knutsford - the original of Cranford - in Cheshire.

 

‘Aurélien Arkadiusz’

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just started reading this on my Kindle so I thought that I would revive the old thread. I have not read previous posts as I do not want to spoil anything. This is the fourth of Elizebeth Gaskell's novels I have read and as with the other three, North and South, My Cousin Rachel and Wives and Daughters, the language itself is beautiful and a real joy to read. With Elizabeth Gaskell the stories are almost secondary to the way in which they are written. Cranford seems to be a gentle description of the lives of a group of women living in the town and their ups and downs.

Edited by cherrypie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just started reading this on my Kindle so I thought that I would revive the old thread. I have not read previous posts as I do not want to spoil anything. This is the fourth of Elizebeth Gaskell's novels I have read and as with the other three, North and South, My Cousin Rachel and Wives and Daughters, the language itself is beautiful and a real joy to read. With Elizabeth Gaskell the stories are almost secondary to the way in which they are written. Cranford seems to be a gentle description of the lives of a group of women living in the town and their ups and downs.

 

My Cousin Rachel is actually by Daphne Du Maurier, but you are definitely making me want to read Elizabeth Gaskell.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My Cousin Rachel is actually by Daphne Du Maurier, but you are definitely making me want to read Elizabeth Gaskell.  :)

Ah! Wrong cousin - meant Cousin Phillis which was a very short but lovely book by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am about two thirds of my way through Cranford already as it is quite a short novel. It really does present a charming picture of the society of a group of women of the time and is peopled with some gentle if often slightly odd characters. The picture portrayed of their society and each persons position within it really does make me smile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished Cranford today and was sorry to do so. I feel as if I have lost a kind, gentle friend that I could visit for short periods to give myself a lift at a miserable time of year. Not a huge amount actually happens over the course of the book but I have found that I have become very attached to many of the characters, at time almost laughing out loud at some of the carryings on of the small community.

 

A real hierarchy exists within the group and everyone more or less knows their place. The book paints a picture of a group of middle aged women living in a close community in genteel poverty. There are very few men in the book, those that do appear from time to time often cause quite a stir as the women are so used to their own society. Most of the incidents described in the book are fairly light-hearted although there are some really sad parts. As Meg has stated in a previous posts when tragedy does arrive it comes at you out of the blue and seems all the worse.

 

This has been a lovely book to read and I am sure that I will read it again, just for the warm feeling it creates if for no other reason. I am sure that this will one of my favourite books of the year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for bringing up Cranford ! I had never heard of it before , but just recently found the show on youtube, and purchased the book. I have yet to read it ,but the show is absolutely wonderful !

 

 Who was your favorite character ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for bringing up Cranford ! I had never heard of it before , but just recently found the show on youtube, and purchased the book. I have yet to read it ,but the show is absolutely wonderful !

 

 Who was your favorite character ?

Not sure that I had a favourite character, I thought that the charm of the book lay in the small society of women as a whole and the natural hierarchy that seemed to exist within even such a small group. I felt that each character, no matter how small, had a part to play and I enjoyed each of the different characters and their individual foibles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't get a chance to read the book, but saw the mini-series on TV. Miss Matty was played by Judi Dench, and she's always a favourite. The small scene I remember so well and really fascinated me was when the sisters were given oranges - shamefully delightful wicked fruit - and the way to eat one was to bore a hole in it with a finger, then squeeze and suck out the juice. I had never known an orange to be eaten that way before. How about other BGOers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't get a chance to read the book, but saw the mini-series on TV. Miss Matty was played by Judi Dench, and she's always a favourite. The small scene I remember so well and really fascinated me was when the sisters were given oranges - shamefully delightful wicked fruit - and the way to eat one was to bore a hole in it with a finger, then squeeze and suck out the juice. I had never known an orange to be eaten that way before. How about other BGOers?

No Ting, like you I have never known an orange to be eaten in this way. When reading the scene in the book it really did make me smile as Miss Matty felt that in eating her orange in this way she was being really daring. The fact that the sisters took their oranges to their own rooms so as not to be observed while eating them I found particularly endearing. It seemed such an innocent pleasure!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit that I had the book home from the library and after three deaths in a short while I sort of lost interest. The characters to me were quite nice maiden ladies locked into a code of behaviour that was almost claustrophobic. I think I may have enjoyed the telly series more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit that I had the book home from the library and after three deaths in a short while I sort of lost interest. The characters to me were quite nice maiden ladies locked into a code of behaviour that was almost claustrophobic. I think I may have enjoyed the telly series more.

What you say Momac is actually true but for many single women of the time with little means of tHeir own a circle of friends of any sort was probably a bonus. The fact that the enforced code of behaviour could appear a triffle cluastrophobic to us the live's of women of the time were very limiting no matter what their position. I feel sure that if you had been able to read the book as a whole and not had a number of interruptions you would have stood a greater chance of appreciating the charm of the characters and the series of small events described in the book. All books are of course liked or disliked on personal preferance and it is true that not a great deal happened in this one! As to liking the TV programme more I suspect that if you were not keen on the book you would have found the TV conversion equally as dull.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What you say is probably true CP but also too is the personal preference angle. I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries - mostly escapism type stuff so genteel type book content, while maybe of a different era and different activities, isn't a lot different from my daily life where I am constrained to a certain degree by physical limitation from the really active and athletic type life I used to enjoy and our daily lives can be a bit boring so you can maybe understand I'm not too keen on reading about other people's humdrum situations. Pardon the long sentence - should have put in a full stop or two. :)

Edited by momac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Momac I can fully understand what you mean. I probably loved Cranford so much because I found it a relaxing read. RG and my lives although much quieter than they used to be are still very full and we often just run out of time. I found that Cranford had a calming effect on me and as I was doing many extra hours at work at the time of reading it the book acted as a form of escapism for me. I can understand how many people would simply find the book a bit boring.

 

Cranford is the fourth Elizabeth Gaskell novel I have read and I have loved them all. Although all of the novels have been pretty slow moving Cranford probably had the least real story. I actually loved the books for the way in which they were written and the language used as much as for their plots. I doubt that this will be the last Elizabeth Gaskell book I will read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Momac I can fully understand what you mean. I probably loved Cranford so much because I found it a relaxing read. RG and my lives although much quieter than they used to be are still very full and we often just run out of time. I found that Cranford had a calming effect on me and as I was doing many extra hours at work at the time of reading it the book acted as a form of escapism for me. I can understand how many people would simply find the book a bit boring.

Cranford is the fourth Elizabeth Gaskell novel I have read and I have loved them all. Although all of the novels have been pretty slow moving Cranford probably had the least real story. I actually loved the books for the way in which they were written and the language used as much as for their plots. I doubt that this will be the last Elizabeth Gaskell book I will read.

Different lives,different situations, and that keeps life interesting. I can find books which take me away into a cozy place. I think I may have mentioned before that my favourite book is The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham, down under the riverbank with some little animals! Another book I have is a book of childhood poems which also take me to special place so there's no hard and fast rule as to what can appeal to me. I also love books to do with the sea and sailing. It's great that we can all find something that lifts us out of our day to day lives. I'm glad that you have found authors who bring you relaxation and pleasure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can find books which take me away into a cozy place. I think I may have mentioned before that my favourite book is The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham, down under the riverbank with some little animals!  It's great that we can all find something that lifts us out of our day to day lives.

Momac, I have a strong suspicion that you may like to try a book by an author who I cannot find featured here on BGO. The author is Peter Dickinson and the novel is 'The Blue Hawk'.  It is so long since I have read it myself (my copy is a rather fragile (1978 edition) that I cannot give any reasonable review of the story right now: all I can say is that it  - and the book - are treasures. It's for young adults - a Puffin book - set in the distant past here on Earth. The blurb says: "an exciting adventure saga of secret passages, battles and dark intrigues, set in a decaying civilization with a dominant priesthood and a powerless king." The hero, young Tron adopts a sick hawk and between them they save their world. 

Maybe I should be starting a thread for this novel/author, but truth be told, I haven't a clue how to do so :dunce: .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Ting,  will have a look for it.  Anything to do with heroic animals and birds is of interest to me.  Ting, one of the mods will be able to set you on the right track for starting a thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ting -

Go to the forum you want your new thread to be in (In the case of The Blue Hawk, 20th Century Fiction), and click on the "Start New Topic" button -on the right hand side above the first thread on the page.

 

On the page that opens up, fill in the Topic Title box as appropriate (for a book thread that'll be with the title of the book), and then fill in the "Topic Tags" box. For a book thread you put the author's name as the first tag, and then tick the little box at the end that says "use first tag as prefix".

In any thread not about a specific book leave that box un-ticked

 

Type your comments/review into the usual area, click the Preview Post box, check that you've said what you intended and clear up any typos, then click  Post New Topic.

Job done!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jumping back to the way the Cranford ladies sucked oranges - I used to do this when I was a child.  My mother used to cut a square hole in the orange with a knife and put a sugar lump in it.  We would suck the juice out through the sugar lump, which sweetened it.  I think oranges weren't as sweet then as they are now.  Grapefruit certainly weren't - they were inedible without sugar.  In Cranford's time I suspect oranges would have been full of pips, as Seville oranges are, which would have made them much less attractive just to eat.  They may have been harder to peel, too.

 

 

I love Cranford.  Miss Matty is my favourite.  Don't you love the way she kept giving the children too many sweets in her little shop?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jumping back to the way the Cranford ladies sucked oranges - I used to do this when I was a child.  My mother used to cut a square hole in the orange with a knife and put a sugar lump in it.  We would suck the juice out through the sugar lump, which sweetened it.  I think oranges weren't as sweet then as they are now.  Grapefruit certainly weren't - they were inedible without sugar.  In Cranford's time I suspect oranges would have been full of pips, as Seville oranges are, which would have made them much less attractive just to eat.  They may have been harder to peel, too.

 

 

I love Cranford.  Miss Matty is my favourite.  Don't you love the way she kept giving the children too many sweets in her little shop?

I love your story about the oranges Heather and as you say the oranges eaten at the time that Cranford was based were probably very different to the oranges that we eat now. When reading a novel it is easy to forget that such ordinary things as an orange could be different. When you think of the amount of varieties of oranges available in supermarkets all year round now and compare that with the oranges eaten by Miss Matty there are probably many differences. The need to make the most of an orange would have been greater then than now too as so few were available.

 

I agree that Miss Matty is an absolute sweetheart. It is probably a good job that she did not have to run her shop for too long as she may well have either given the profits away or worried hereself silly about the state of the children's teeth!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Similar Content

    • By cherrypie
      One of her later books.  Although short still a very charming read.  As with other of her books it is beautifully written and paints a clear picture of pastoral England in the 19th century.  The strength of the novel lies in the characters that Gaskell creates and although they are not all completely likeable the facets of human nature that each character represents are clear to see.  As with previous novels morality plays a big part.
       
      Although not a great deal actually happens in the novel as a reader I found myself caring about a number of the characters and the final outcome of the book.  Paul, as the story teller is a likeable if gullible chap easily led by an older and more glamorous friend and superior.  Phyllis as the namesake of the book manages to be both good and likeable without appearing wishy-washy while her father the Minister is the sort of gentleman you wish still existed today.
       
      All in all although not one of her most well known books I would say it was well worth the bother of reading and if you are a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell books I cannot see that the book will fail to please.
    • By Blodwyn Pigs Might Fly
      I've just watched the last episode of BBC1's excellent adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North and South. I was wondering if anyone on here has read the book and, if so, how much was lost for the TV version? I sensed quite a lot, as time passed in a flash at times: one minute Mr Hale was happy in Oxford, the next he was dead, then Margaret was leaving Milton, then she was in London, then she was in Helston, then she was back in Milton. There were four deaths of significant characters in Episode 3 alone - they were dropping like flies towards the end.
       
      Also, does anyone know if the fact that Manchester was renamed Milton was Mrs G's little joke? The phrase "Dark Satanic Mills" comes from William Blake's poem, usually called Jerusalem when sung, but whose real name is Milton.
    • By megustaleer
      This novel is set in 1830s Manchester, at the time when the Trades Union movement was just starting.
      Mary Barton is the motherless daughter of a mill worker who has been 'laid off' after a fire at the mill. He is involved in fighting for workers rights.
       
      Mary has her head turned by the mill owners son, and turns her back on her honest working-man sweetheart. Following a confrontation between the two men over Mary, the mill owners son is murdered. Mary's suitor is arrested, as circumstantial evidence points to his guilt.
      Mary now realises that she loves him, and although she discovers who the killer is, a greater loyalty means that she must prove Jem's innocence without betraying the real perpetrator.
       
      The plot veers towards the melodramatic, and the writing is a little heavy going, but as a sample of a classic Northern "trouble at t'mill" 19th century social commentary, you can't get more typical!
    • By FirelightSpirit
      Elizabeth Gaskell's last, and unfinished, novel centres on Molly Gibson, a doctor's daughter living in the country town of Hollingford, whose life changes dramatically when she learns she is to have a new stepmother in the beautiful but affected Mrs Kirkpatrick. Molly's anguish is partially relieved when she is introduced to her new stepsister Cynthia, but her love for the beautiful Cynthia soon causes problems for her, particularly when she gets entangled in Cynthia's secrets and when Molly's friend Roger Hamley falls for Cynthia's charms.
       
      Like North and South, morality and secrets play a part in this novel, though it's far less didactic and preachy. There's a lot of charm here, and the characters are well drawn and interesting. Aside from the sweet-natured yet passionate Molly, Squire Hamley, who has a good heart for all his bluster, is also wonderful. I also enjoyed Mr Gibson, whose dislike of sentimentality conceals a tender devotion to his daughter, and who also has a wonderfully sarcastic wit. Steady, dependable Roger is also very interesting, where he might have been dull, and even the willful Cynthia has surprising depth to her character.
       
      While the book is unfinished, it's almost there. Gaskell had only a chapter to write before her death and we know how it's meant to end. Even though it's not technically finished, it's still a very satisfying read indeed. Excellent stuff.
    • By megustaleer
      Ruth is a typical Victorian moral tale in which the eponymous heroine, as an innocent, beautiful young girl, orphaned and without a guiding influence, is seduced by a handsome and wealthy young man.
       
      Owing to the force of circumstances, but without much of a fight, he abandons her far from her home. She is rescued in her moment of deepest despair by Thurston Benson, a Dissenting minister, who is much older, and crippled, therefore cannot be suspected by the reader of improper motives, He takes her to his home far from the scenes of her disgrace where, as Ruth has now discovered that she is pregnant, he and his sister tell people that she is recently widowed, and let them assume she is a distant relative - much to the disapproval of their elderly and forthright housekeeper, Sally. (Quite my favourite character).
      Ruth’s sweet nature, modesty and natural beauty of both form and spirit win hearts within the household and the congregation. All adore the babe when he arrives, and from then on Ruth devotes her life to his welfare .
       
      In spite of the virtuous life she leads after her one youthful fall, once her story comes out she is rejected by her so-called friends, as is Mr Benson for lying about her past, and deceiving righteous folk into receiving into their homes a sinner who should be cast out of decent society.
      The child, too is grievously affected by the revelations.
       
      The family struggle through times of hardship and disgrace, and eventually Ruth’s selfless devotion to the sick and poor bring her respect and admiration - and to a sad end.
       
      The book was considered quite indecent when it was first published. Not only does the immoral behaviour of the heroine go unpunished, but when parted from her lover she clearly intends to take her own life. Also shocking is the deception practiced on his congregation by a Christian Minister.
       
      The religious content might put a number of readers off, but it is a feature of many novels of the period, as is the heightened emotion which pervades the book. Much of it is harrowing (but I am happy to be harrowed), and it is a real tear-jerker. If you have any tenderness in your soul you will not be able to finish the book with dry eyes.
       
      Although I quite like a book to bring a tear to the eye, it did seem at times that Ruth herself would never stop crying, and the first half of the book was particularly tear-sodden. Fortunately the plain-speaking Sally often gave them her welcome and amusing common-sense opinion of the proceedings.
×
×
  • Create New...