Thursday, July 14, 2011


Basing my opinion of Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell, purely on its cover, I hypothesized that it would be something between a Jane Austen and a George Eliot novel. In order to scientifically prove or disprove my hypothesis and not be guilty of flouting the old proverb's advice, it was necessary to read all of the pages. Which I did. The whole time I was reading, my mental commentary vascillated between "where's the plot?" and "this is the book I should have read last week!"
     After reading some reviews and discussion online, I find I am not alone in noticing the lack of plot. Cranford lays out a series of mostly minor events taking place in the town of Cranford and involving a small circle of spinsters and widows. The beauty of this book lies in its character development. Elizabeth Gaskell was aware that she lived in a time of rapid social change, and she purposefully set down an account of daily life in a small town. The main characters in Cranford are fairly old women, whom Gaskell saw as "living hoards of family tradition and old custom". I loved Gaskell's little old ladies, with all their eccentricities and yet with mannerisms, habits, likes and dislikes that are not so far different from those of elderly people today.  Some people find the elderly to be difficult to understand or get along with, but these ladies are downright hilarious.  You've got to read the part about the cat that ate the lace.

Main character: Miss Matty
Secondaries: Miss Matty's posse of old ladies. It's a tribute to Gaskell's storytelling that I was able to keep them all straight with ease.
Biggest plot twist: The feature you are looking for is not available in this book. Please make an alternative selection.
There was a lot of: hats, lace crocheting, card playing, gossiping conversing, calling cards, note writing, proper visiting protocol
There should have been more: chapters
This book makes you want to: visit little old ladies and grow up to be one...someday far in the future
This book makes you glad you don't have to: be a little old lady quite yet...

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