Newest Review: ... in that order.' this i feel is more the fault of the BBC than Elizabeth Gaskell as they evidently took the best bits and mashed them... more
Cranford proves a Classic
Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
Member Name: villager90
Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
Advantages: witty, charming, educational
Disadvantages: no major plot, style of writing, people may find book boring
Cranford is a classic novel written by Elizabeth Gaskell in 1851, first appearing as a serial in the magazine, Household Words, which was edited by the literature King, Charles Dickens.
Cranford follows the gentle women of the Victorian Town as they go about their quiet lives expecting nothing untoward to happen; whilst adhering to their own sets of eccentric rules, e.g how they eat their oranges, do they suck the juice out or cut into segments? Cranford is recognised as the best known novel by Gaskell and is a witty classic that should sit along Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice on book shelves.
I began to read Cranford after the much acclaimed T.V Series that saw Imelda Staunton and Judy Dench portray some of the towns women. I was immensely looking forward at seeing how the book compared with the programme, as usually there are massive differences, and I normally find that the books are better.
The style of writing in Cranford is very much similar to that of Great Expectations and other novels of the period. Not language that I find easy to read and i had to ensure that the book got my whole concentration when reading it. The quirky and funny anecdotes that appeared in the T.V series were very much described heavily and it was difficult at times to understand just what these eccentric women were doing. But what they were doing always seemed to be very charming and 'proper', as they get the old books out to decipher how you address a 'Lady'.
The main credit of the book is the insight into Victorian life that had at that time still been untouched by the railway expansion. Cranford is loosely based upon the Cheshire town of Knutsford. The book shows the social life at the times, with the social class system and stigma. The ladies are all invited to events in order of their social status and when the 'Lady' marries below her rank, her Very Honourable sister is very displeased and the ladies of the town follow her opinion. Unlike Oliver Twist and Gaskells other book, My Lady Ludlow, Cranford doesn't really go into the plight and struggles of the lower classes, focusing on the middle class.
The story doesn't follow a main significant plot, just really a serialisation of the town and goings on. The main action involved in the story literally lasts a few pages.
I did enjoy Cranford but the book will not be everyone's cup of tea, even if you did enjoy the T.V programme. The book could be boring at times and it missed the charm the programme did. However the programme was not 'sexed' up and it stayed remarkably true to the story.
For those who enjoy reading the literary classics I hvae previously mentioned I am sure Cranford will be equally enjoyed. Charming, witty and educational of the times. You will be greatly appreciative of the read.
However the DVD is available and, despite being ashamed to admit, i did prefer the T.V serialisation. But this book is a classic, and portrays grief, bankruptcy and new beginnings that can still be relevant today, despite being written over 150years ago.
Best prices from Amazon, and my copy encompasses the three novels that the T.V programme knitted together: My Lady Ludlow, Mr Harrison's Confessions and Cranford. The Cage at Cranford is also within the book and this is also very enjoyable. rrp £6.99 bloomsburypbks.
A true Classic!
Summary: those who enjoy the classics worth a read.