I’ve been on an Elizabeth Gaskell kick the past couple years, though I’m trying to pace myself so I don’t race through them all. I’ve read North & South (and watched the beautiful BBC miniseries) and Wives and Daughters (which I loved despite being unfinished), and last month I listened to Cranford via my Audible subscription.
This book feels like a miniseries in which you get to know the residents of a small English town and their misadventures. The narrator is a young woman who visits periodically and writes about the lives of the middle-aged women who mostly run the town.
Since it’s a series of vignettes, it doesn’t feel like a cohesive story, but there is a protagonist, Miss Matty Jenkyns, a respectable spinster whose gentle ways work her into the center of life in Cranford. The “adventures” are gentle and often hilarious, and I love Gaskell’s description of the friendship and loyalty between all these women.
It’s short and gentle, and a fun listen on my work commutes.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a BBC miniseries of Cranford, which I liked pretty well and it has a stellar cast (Judi Dench is Matty Jenkyns, so). The miniseries adds a few characters, like a young attractive doctor who catches the eye of several young (and some not-as-young) ladies, and focusing partially on a doctor makes me incredibly glad I live in the 21st century with more modern medicine. Whew. Being a country doctor in the 19th century was no joke. The first series is available to stream on Amazon Prime if you’re interested.
Read as part of my Classics Club 50 Books in 5 Years project.
★ ★ ★