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Cranford (Penguin Classics) [Hardcover]

by Elizabeth Gaskell, Patricia Ingham, Coralie Bickford-Smith
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 27, 2009 0141442549 978-0141442549 Reprint

Gaskell's best known work is set in a small rural town, inhabited largely by women. This is a community that runs on cooperation and gossip, at the very heart of which are the daughters of the former rector: Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her sister Miss Matty. But domestic peace is constantly threatened in the form of financial disaster, imagined burglaries, tragic accidents, and the reappearance of long-lost relatives.

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Editorial Reviews


'Bathed in a poignant, dreamlike mood found nowhere else in fiction' Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

In this witty and poignant comedy of early-Victorian life, Elizabeth Gaskell chronicles a small Cheshire market town on the verge of great change. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics Hardcover; Reprint edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141442549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141442549
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
123 of 127 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let me begin this review by saying that if you are thinking about reading this book only because of the BBC series, you will find it very disappointing. The makers of that series used the authors name, the title of the book and some of the characters but the remainder of their production is pure invention. I am enjoying watching the BBC program, but it is not this book.

Ms Charlotte Mitchell provides an Introduction and Notes for this book. It is my belief that it is essesntial to read the Introduction in order to fully understand Cranford. Elizabeth Gaskell had written a series of stories which appeared at irregular intervals in a magazine edited by Charles Dickens titled Household Words. The stories first appeared together as a novel in 1853. Ms Mitchell uses the Introduction to explain the chronology for the publishing of this and other novels by Elizabeth Gaskell. She also takes this opportunity to explore the question of whether or not Cranford was ever meant to be taken seriously by readers of Ms Gaskell since her other novels are so very different in tone from this one.

One of the things I really appreciate which Ms Mitchell did was to include the Notes section to explain words and phrases which appear in the book which were very well understood in the 1800's but which may be unfamiliar to readers today. I read a lot of historical romantic fiction and these Notes gave me concrete explanations for words and phrases I have been too lazy to research for myself. I thought I knew what they meant before, now I know for sure. Items such as:

1. gigot - a sleeve style described as leg-of-mutton
2. baby-house - a dolls house
3. sarsenet - a soft thin silk material
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123 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the version for the tv series fan July 27, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This paperback version is the one that the recent tv series fan will want, because unlike some of the other paperback versions, it includes the three Gaskell novellas that were the basis for the Judi Dench-Eileen Atkins miniseries. The three books were
"Cranford", "My Lady Ludlow" and "Mr Harrison's Confessions."
Mrs Gaskell stories are considered comedies, and this comes clear in the original texts. Some sadness of course in events, but mostly there is a clear comic, even sardonic voice in which we can fall in love with the characters and still laugh at their foibles, fashions, and foolishness which seem still so apropos today.
Highly recommended.
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55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Cransford Chronicles September 3, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This Viking edition includes "Mr. Harrison's Confession," "Cranford," and "My Lady Ludlow," the three novellas
combined to produce the Cranford BBC series. The works are quite different from each other, "My Lady Ludlow" differing the most in tone and style.

"Mr. Harrison's Confession" is the droll account of a young doctor who comes to Dunscombe (a Cranford stand-in) to practice with the much older Mr. Morgan, an old friend of his father's. As young Harrison makes the transition from the lively streets of London to the quaint lanes of the little town to which he has moved, he is involved in many humorous misunderstandings--and especially troublesome are those caused by a prankster friend of his! There are poignant moments too, as Mr. Harrison and the townspeople learn to know each other, and the young doctor finds love.

"Cranford" is the most fully fleshed out of the three novellas, and easily the most readily absorbed by the modern reader. To one who grew up in New England of swamp Yankee parentage, the mindset of the Cranford ladies is completely familiar. Why care about dress when everyone in your town knows what clothes you own, and why care when you are away where no one knows you at all? The various subplots of the story are very reminiscent Sarah Orne Jewett, who wrote a few decades later in the US--"The Country of the Pointed Firs," for example. The novel comprises several interlocking stories centering on Miss Matilda Jenkyns, her family and her friends who inhabit the little town of Cransford--a town of Amazons. Very few men live in the village. Though many of the stories are humorous, there are those that touch the heart.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Our Society" August 23, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Cranford" is likely the best known novel of Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell. The novel follows the day-to-day social lives of a group of upper-middle-class women in the small, fictional town of Cranford, England. Rather than having a strong narrative, the novel delivers a tableau of social goings on that illuminate the characters and their lives. These stories are told largely through the eyes of a younger lady (Miss Mary Smith) who often visits from a nearby town. The ladies of Cranford are not rich, but wealthy enough to belong to a certain social strata, and much of the comedy derives from their careful considerations of who to include and exclude at various social gatherings. Miss Matty is essentially the main protagonist, and she is a basically kind woman if a bit miserly, especially when it comes to candles. She and her friends typically look to the most prominent member of Cranford female society, Miss Jamieson, and then assiduously follow her lead. Unfortunately, Miss Jamieson is sometimes rather narrow-minded, unlike the other ladies, which creates certain socially awkward situations.

This enjoyable novel may seem a bit meandering to some readers, given that there is not a main narrative thread. The novel was originally published in serialized form in "Household Words" (edited by Charles Dickens), which may partially help explain its lack of a strong plot. Indeed, the 2007 BBC mini-series versions of "Cranford" included stories from several of Gaskell's other novels. However, the stories here all add up to a devastatingly accurate picture of small town life and the sometimes vicious yet amusing ways in which people in them behave. Gaskell clearly understood human nature, and readers are likely to recognize many truths about human foibles in her stories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I was disappointed with the shape the used copy was in. I've ordered used books before and always been happy. This time the book had some water stains and just to worn out.
Published 4 days ago by Raquel
4.0 out of 5 stars worth reading but not exciting.
Well written. About middle aged women, their foibles, their snobbery and their kindly attitudes towards each other. A gentle read.
Published 1 month ago by HTWB
4.0 out of 5 stars A treasure
A sweet story of life in an English village. Humorous at times and on the whole, a very good read!
Published 1 month ago by hullgal
5.0 out of 5 stars Cranford
I had watched the movie so I thought I would read the book and I enjoyed it. There was more detail in the book.
Published 2 months ago by prose
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentility is so important!
A charming account of village life amongst the ladies of Cranford. Gaskell pokes gentle fun at their pretensions and affectations, while evoking sympathy for timid Miss Matty, long... Read more
Published 3 months ago by sheila forbes
5.0 out of 5 stars Days Gone By
A beautiful, if a bit romantic story of days gone by. I felt as if I too were sitting in the drawing rooms, walking down the street. I'd gladly read it again.
Published 3 months ago by David Miller
1.0 out of 5 stars bleh.
I had to read this for a college course. I strongly dislike Victorian literature. This novel is the paradigm example of why I dislike this era in literature. Read more
Published 3 months ago by the_tropic_rot
5.0 out of 5 stars Cranford is a must read.
I watched the TV series and enjoyed it so much that I had to get the book. I envisioned each character and scene as I read this wonderfully written book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jean Lowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Cranford
This is a very sweet book. Absolutely love it! I like reading stories that take you back to a simpler time.
Published 4 months ago by Tamara Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great companion to the series
I own the series and wanted to read the book. I was very happy to learn more and note the differences in the series. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joann L. Allen
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