#CBR7 Review #188: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Every so often, I hanker something a bit…gentler. Less gritty. Not so violent or macabre. And from everything I’d heard about the popular BBC mini-series Cranford, the original book by Elizabeth Gaskell seemed to fit the bill. I decided that it would be fun to listen to on my long commute to work. And it certainly was a rather enjoyable way to pass the time.

Our narrator is Miss Mary Smith, a young woman who makes frequent visits to the quaint village of Cranford, a sleepy yet mannerly town ruled by women. Men often leave or die or just sort of feel out-of-place, so the women take hold. There are visits and tea, and little bouts of drama to keep everything interesting. Miss Matty Jenkyns wants a sea-green turban that Mary continually talks her out of. Mrs. Jamieson has a noble sister-in-law, Lady Glenmire, whom she trots out as a claim to fame. Miss Jessie Brown is a devoted companion to her ailing sister, all while hiding a heart broken by an ended love affair. This chronicle follows the daily doings and changes to the citizens of Cranford, with some humor, sorrow, and angst in between.

While this is definitely not my favorite Victorian novel, I did find it interesting and entertaining, although it’s definitely sadder in spots than I had reckoned on. I decided that I would marathon the mini-series this last week, since I had a bunch of grading to do. Um, it was *definitely* much sadder than I expected, and certainly played up the sad parts in the book. I did like Judi Dench as Miss Matty, but I’ve decided if I want her on my TV screen, I will put on As Time Goes By. Love that show! And it’s funny, too. Cranford wasn’t bad, but it’s no Jane Austen.


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