Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

So yet again I have reasons for not blogging or replying to comments… I have now sprained my wrist and can only do some kind of one handed typing shuffle. So this will be brief, but I just wanted to say, Elizabeth Gaskell is my new favourite author of the year. I absolutely adored Cranford, which I finished about a week ago. It starts off slowly, with even a few sad bits and more of a comic, gentle vignette feel than a strong narrative, but by the end a plot has arrived, involving the misfortunes of one of the sweet gossipy ladies of the small town of Cranford and the way everyone gathers together to help was very touching. (I cried, more than once.) The story is simple and the characters fuss over appearing genteel on very limited budgets (‘elegant economy’ they phrase it) and are rather gullible, but they also show such kindness and goodness of heart. I’ve rarely been so touched, it was the perfect balm for the stressful times I’ve been going through lately. (My husband is healing up quite well, but now with both of us half out of commission it is proving rather difficult to get the chores done!)

I’ve since picked up Mary Barton but first I am rereading North and South, which is even better than I’d remembered. It’s so wonderful to find a new classic author that I want to rush out and read all in one year! This hasn’t really happened since… well, since Jane Austen. And as one commenter said here earlier this year, Gaskell is the closest thing to a Victorian Jane Austen.

Now back to Mr. Thorton and Margaret, where I can imagine the wonderful theme music from the mini-series playing in the background as I read it!

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15 thoughts on “Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

  1. Claire (The Captive Reader) says:

    This is not your month, is it? Sorry to hear about your wrist but so glad that you’re finding such joy with Mrs. Gaskell! I have to admit that I’ve only read North & South and Wives & Daughters but I really must try Cranford, as well as the less cheerful Ruth and Mary Barton.

    • Carolyn says:

      Yeah, it has been pretty stressful this month but hopefully things will start to get better in a bit. I’m glad you got me reading Gaskell this year, it’s been the perfect thing. 🙂

  2. bookssnob says:

    Oh you poor thing! I’m sorry to hear about your wrist. When both you and the husband are on the mend I think you deserve a treat. Like a holiday. 🙂
    Cranford was my first Gaskell and I loved it too. However it did surprise me when I read her others, as they are very different in tone and content, as you know.

    I have yet to read Wives and Daughters and a couple of her shorter novels but I’ve read the others. I actually loved Ruth the most – overlooked because of its righteousness but it is a lovely book despite the unnecessarily devastating ending. Plus it is a very interesting period piece about the fate of unwed mothers and sexual innocence.

    Wishing you and your husband well, and quickly!

    • Carolyn says:

      Well we may be going to Florida around Christmas, which would be quite relaxing. 🙂 I hope you read more Gaskell eventually, especially Wives and Daughters, I think you’d really like it!

  3. Nicola says:

    I’m very fond of Gaskell, too. Wives and Daughters is on my mind for a winter read. Have your read her biography of Charlotte Bronte? One of the most readable biogs I’ve ever read – and I’m not particularly keen on the genre!

    • Carolyn says:

      Oh no I missed your comment, somehow it got caught in the spam filter! So sorry and now I’ve fished it out. 🙂 I haven’t read that biography yet (and I agree, I’m not big on non-fiction at all either), but I do have it out from the library. I’m now looking forward to rereading Wives & Daughters too, although since I only first read it this summer, I’m trying to wait until next year!

  4. Care says:

    I have Cranford on my to be read VERY soon list. I tutor seniors on how to use the internet and one of them suggested this book to me so I ran out to get it. But it’s in line vying for the top spot. It will be my first Gaskell – she is such a beloved author, I can’t wait.

  5. Care says:

    oh, I meant to add some sympathies for your wrist. I have a weak wrist and it is so limiting, isn’t it. 😦 May it heal soon. 🙂

  6. Iris says:

    I think we are going through a Mrs. Gaskell phase at the same time & I am incredibly glad to find a likeminded soul. I’m in the middle of Cranford at the moment. I recently reread North and South and read Mary Barton for the first time (though I have yet to blog about either of them). I did have a harder time getting into Mary Barton, but after the first 100 pages I loved it.

    Also, I am sorry to hear about your wrist.

    • Carolyn says:

      I still have Mary Barton (and Ruth and Sylvia’s Lovers, etc!) to go so it’s good to know it’s enjoyable too, but have just started Mr. Harrison’s Confession, a novella (? I think) that was one of Gaskell’s other stories that they wove into the Cranford miniseries, about a new doctor in a small town and his love entanglements. It looks cute and as I so enjoyed Cranford, it’s nice to read something similar.

  7. Katherine says:

    I started reading Elizabeth Gaskell at the beginning of this year and must admit she’s competing with my dear Jane Austen as favorite author.

    I’m doing a Cranford group read in November at my Elizabeth Gaskell Blog, I hope that you might stop by.

    • Carolyn says:

      Maybe I will have to give it a go again, rereading books has become quite enjoyable for me this year. If you do more read-alongs of other Gaskell novels (especially the more difficult ones like Mary Barton, Ruth, and Sylvia’s Lovers) I would be more than happy to join in!

      • mumu74 says:

        I’ve read Crandford and it was very usuful for my history classes.
        I am delighted with the characters and the modernity arriving, the confussion, the fears.

  8. smilingldsgirl says:

    I love Cranford! Elizabeth Gaskell has such a way for creating dynamic, interesting, wonderful female characters. North and South is my favorite book. My only regret is she didn’t write more novels…

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