Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)

I spent the past week with the ladies of Cranford. It was a delightful time listening to stories of their girlhood friendships and family life and the bittersweet present where many of their dreams were not realized.

Still, I was captivated at this group of women trying to maintain their dignity through the aging process unwilling to lower the standards of status and respectability regardless of the capriciousness of financial matters.

Having known each other all of their lives, they are still competing for dominance, for favor; they argue and infuriate each other, but never hesitate to come together in support at deaths, at changes in finances and to defend each other against gossip and lies.

I would go back if they’d have me….

First serialized in Charles Dickens’ magazine, Household Words beginning in December of 1851, he encouraged Gaskell to write more episodes as the chapters were called. The completed book was published 18 months later.


Title: Cranford
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Publisher: Collins
Date: 1853
Device: Hardcover
Pages: 255

Challenges: Classics Club, Back to the Classics, Mount TBR

12 thoughts on “Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)

  1. I’ve really enjoyed the two Gaskell books I’ve read but was put off Cranford by the TV series which is crazy really. I should give this a read and then try the series, she’s such a brilliant writer how could I lose faith in her?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I get you. I have been watching the old BBC production and it is very different from the book, so I can see how that can put someone off. But maybe this book would not be for you anyway? I loved Wives and Daughters so much, but then I tried North and South and dnf’ed it! So it’s, two out of three for me, too, with Gaskell!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting about North and South – I adored Wives and Daughters, I think we might have talked about Molly Gibson before and years ago I read Mary Barton and loved that too, but it’s true we don’t have to enjoy everything we read!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this book as well. The Cranford women are mostly so dignified and resourceful. And I highly recommend the T.V. series. I bought it in a package with some other Gaskell televised novels, “North and South” and “Wives and Daughters.” They are all excellent adaptations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my favorite books , and also a terrific tv series from a few years ago. Something I read about Cranford pointed out the lack of men in the town’s event. A consequence of the Napoleonic wars, I believe. Those women had no choice but to be frugal and make their own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gaskell mentions this at the beginning. She calls them Amazons. All the householders of a certain class are women, either widowed or never married and for those with husbands they are largely absent whether at businesses that take them away from home for long periods of time or in the military stationed elsewhere. There are one or two in this circle with decent incomes from marriage, but by and large the women are masters at household economy!

      Liked by 1 person

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