Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell

Pages: 177

Original date of publication: 1853

My edition: 2009 (Barnes and Noble)

Why I decided to read: I watched the BBC miniseries of Cranford last winter and loved it

How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, February 2010

Last winter, I rented Cranford, the BBC miniseries (starring Judi Dench), from Netflix—and that got me interested in the book on which that’s based. The book is a series of vignettes about the ladies of the town of Cranford, many of whom are elderly spinsters like Miss Matty Jenkyns and her sister Deborah, or Miss Pole (much as I tried not to, I kept seeing Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton in the roles of Miss Matty and Miss Pole).

This short story differs significantly from the miniseries; the miniseries focuses a lot on the encroachment of the railways on the town of Cranford, and there’s a romantic subplot going on there. The book is much more centered on the middle-aged and elderly ladies of the town, as seen through a semi-outsider, Miss Mary Smith, the daughter of a family friend of the Jenkynses.

As another reviewer said on Librarything, reading about the ladies of Cranford is a lot like reading about the Golden Girls. This is a very lighthearted, funny book in many places, but still very touching. The ladies are very provincial, focused on the mundane details of their lives—but very loyal to one another, as seen when Matty looses her money and her friends conspire to help her out. It took a few pages for me to get into the story, but once I did, I was fully engaged in the lives of the characters in this book.


Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I have always wanted to watch the mini-series, but missed it on PBS this last year. I know, I should just rent it. I have the book on my Kindle, but it sits there molding right now. Thanks for explaining the differences between the tv version and the paper version....very much appreciated by me!

brandyreneebruce said...

Have you seen Return to Cranford (movie)? If not, I highly recommend. All the same characters from the first movie. And if you've never seen the movie Wives and Daughters (also written by Elizabeth Gaskell), I loved it!


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