My first Elizabeth Gaskell novel. I have wanted to read Wives and Daughters and North and South for awhile, but somehow Cranford ended up being my first Gaskell. This novel is about the lives of the predominantly female, older population of the eponymous small town. There is little way in plot, and the tone is quiet and subdued like the setting of the book itself. It does have moments of amusement, satire, and cleverness that displays Gaskell’s ability as a writer. The vignettes are subtle and you can get so much from the characters from them. It is actually a good social portrait of England in the early mid-19th century. Many of the stories are based on actual events from Gaskell’s childhood. I would not recommend it to everyone as it quite slow, but I found many of the moments in the book touching. While the characters can be rather silly and gossipy, they are not vindictive for the most part, and stood by those they loved in the end. This novel worked on my sentimentality and sensitivity as you can tell. I liked it, but I understand that few people could get really into it.
The recent adaptation and mini series have already aired in the U. K., and PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre will begin its three week run of it tomorrow night. I have heard good things about it, and I wonder how they will shape the stories told in the novel. I do think that that with a cast led by Dame Judi Dench that the emotional aspect of the novel can be conveyed easily with the right script. I look forward to it, and will report back on it in a future blog post.