Book Review: Cranford


Elizabeth Gaskell

Penguin Clothbound Classics

304 pages

I have decided that for 2011, I want to make a more concerted effort to read classics.  As an English Lit major in college, I feel like maybe I was so deluged with classics that once I graduated in December 07 that I pretty much threw that genre to the wayside (if it can even be referred to as a genre!).  The first on my list to tackle this year was Cranford , by Elizabeth Gaskell.  I read Sylvia’s Lovers last year for the Classics Circuit and thought it was really well done, so I was anxious to read more Gaskell.

Cranford is a look into a predominantly female town and the dynamics therein.  It’s more subtle than your typical novel, in that it is more of an expose of everyday life than anything else.  The narrator is a woman named Mary who is younger than the other women of the town and is not a resident of Cranford , although she stays with Miss Matty Jenkyns for prolonged visits.  Matty is one of those sweet older ladies who always wants to do right by everyone else and is careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings.  This leads to her being one of the most revered women in Cranford , which is evident by the end of the book as far as everyone’s treatment of her goes.


The edition of Cranford that I read was the Penguin clothbound classic, and I loved that it included so many essays, as well as an in-depth introduction (which I couldn’t read until after I had finished Cranford , as the introduction contained spoilers), a glossary and endnotes.  It’s nice to have all that information to refer to, and often when I am done reading a book that had an impact on me, having essays regarding the text is almost as good as having an actual person to discuss the book with!

Admittedly, there were times when I was a tad bit bored with Cranford , but it helped that I knew exactly what I was getting into.  This is definitely more of a character driven novel over plot, so while that doesn’t always work for me, I made certain to pick Cranford up at a time when I was looking for that type of book.  It has convinced me now even more that I would like to read more of Gaskell, especially Wives and Daughters, which seems to be a favorite among other bloggers!

Other Reviews:

Rebecca Reads

things mean a lot

I purchased this book from Anthropologie.

This book counts towards the Victorian Lit challenge.

10 Responses

  1. I’m both looking forward to this and a little scared of it, so I’m going to make sure it’s not the first Gaskell I read. Just in case it doesn’t work for me!

  2. This will be the year I finally read Gaskell. Cranford is on my shelf, so will start there. Unfortunately it’s not that beautiful Penguin edition.

  3. I just got myself a copy of Cranford (Oxford World’s Classics edition – I think the Penguin clothbound editions are beautiful but they just feel a little cheaply put together) and I’m really looking forward to reading it! Wives and Daughters is not just my favourite Gaskell it’s also one of my favourite books – definitely a must read! North and South is excellent as well.

  4. I love those editions! This one is on my classics project list, though who knows when I’ll actually get to it.

  5. I love Penguin editions and when they are as great as these series, it cannot get any better!!

    Cranford entered my reading list some days ago, and since then, I have already seen two reviews. As an English Literature student I think it will pay off a lot.


  6. I ve not read this but do love the penguin cover on this ,all the best stu

  7. Don’t you hate it when the intros include spoilers? I guess they figure, it’s a classic so everyone knows what it’s about! I typically gloss over the intros and then come back to them after I read the book.

    I want to read this one!

  8. This was definitely a subtle read. In my review, I write of it as a meandering read, a portraiture rather than a purely cause and effect type story. I did so love it!

  9. I love the cloth cover on this book…it makes me want to read it just by looking at it 🙂 I’m trying to read more classics this year and have Wuthering Heights requested from the library. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!

  10. […] click on the book cover above to go read a synopsis. Or click here for a favorable thorough review by Lola. I specifically chose her post because it is 1) short, and 2) links to two other reviews that are […]

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