Published by Penguin Classics on April 25, 2006
A portrait of the residents of an English country town in the mid nineteenth century, Cranford relates the adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances. Through a series of vignettes, Elizabeth Gaskell portrays a community governed by old-fashioned habits and dominated by friendships between women. Her wry account of rural life is undercut, however, by tragedy in its depiction of such troubling events as Matty's bankruptcy, the violent death of Captain Brown or the unwitting cruelty of Peter Jenkyns. Written with acute observation, Cranford is by turns affectionate, moving and darkly satirical.
In her introduction, Patricia Ingham discusses Cranford in relation to Gaskell's own past and as a work of irony in the manner of Jane Austen. She also considers the implications of the novel in terms of class and empire. This edition also includes further reading, notes, and an appendix on the significance of 'Fashion at Cranford'.
Cranford is a small town which is high in the population of female. In the first section of the book, every male who enters the town drops like flies making it feel jinxed or like an old-fashioned sorority.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel is a sequence of short stories that all intertwine. I’m typically not a short story reader so it took me a while to get into it and go with the flow. Although, once there Cranford is enchanting! All the characters are so lively that one can not help but fall in love, which is odd because most of the females are against that.
You cannot write a review without speaking of Miss Matty. She is a kind old soul who while should seem a woman with much wisdom, she is, in fact, a child-like girl who everyone coddled and adored her because of her sweet nature. I won’t say much in fear that I could give too much away, but an example of this is when Matty’s companion is engaged to be married but worries about mentioning it in case it were to upset her and devises a plan so everything benefits the surrounding persons.
My favorite and what I felt to be the most entertaining stories is of Lady Glenmire’s appearance. Believed to be the highest of society with the residence in town all in a tizzy over the preparations only to find that she is no different from themselves.
The running around reminded me of a Faulty Towers episode particularly the one where “The Germans” visit the hotel. Really, when I think about it the majority of these stories could have been a highly sophisticated Faulty Towers.