NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!

Lezlie



Sunday, August 23, 2009

CRANFORD

by Elizabeth Gaskell



"In the village of Cranford, decorum is maintained at all times. Despite their poverty, the ladies are never vulgar about money (or their lack of it), and always follow the rules of propriety. This discretion and gentility does not keep away tragedy -- and when the worst happens, the Amazons of Cranford show the true strength of their honest affections." (From the CD container.)

That description makes the book sound much more somber than it really is. One could almost call this Victorian Chick Lit. I didn't think this would be my style of book at all, but it is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list and was available at the library. I checked it out. I adored it! I love these women! I want to live in Cranford! And once again I have been reminded why I enjoy playing with the 1001 Books list.

Cranford is more a series of episodes focusing on the various inhabitants of the town than a plot-driven story, and the love of the narrator, Mary Smith, for her former home and its residents is clear right from the start. It's not fawning or smothering, but realistic and powerful in its quaint honesty. She understands the eccentricities of the town but can watch and tell in a less "involved" manner, and her anecdotes highlight the friendship, jealously, resourcefulness and fierce emotion among women that it takes another woman to truly understand.

If you're looking for an extremely accessible classic to pass a lazy afternoon, I couldn't recommend a better book than Cranford.



PS Heather at Age 30+ . . . A Lifetime of Books is hosting a read-along for Cranford in September. If you'd like to join her, click here.

Other reviews:

A Striped Armchair

27 comments:

zetor said...

I have this book on my shelf and have tried to read it with no success, I watched the BBC version of the series a couple of years ago, have you seen that Lezlie?(Judi Dench etc were fantastic!)So the t.v. was wonderful , but the book I found hard, will try again sometime.
I enjoyed your review.

Molly said...

I have had this book on my TBR list for a couple of years now. I loved your review and hope that I can read it myself sometime soon.

Lezlie said...

Zetor ~ I'm surprised you've found it difficult to read. But then again, I listened to the audio book, so I can't really speak to the actual "reading" of it. I have not seen the BBC presentation, but I'll bet it's great!

Molly ~ Thank you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when you have a chance to get to it!

Lezlie

Eva said...

I read this one last month and adored it! I'd call it Victorian chick lit too. :) But the final couple of stories totally had me in (happy) tears.

bermudaonion said...

You've made me want to run right out and grab a copy!

Lezlie said...

Eva ~ Weren't they great!! I loved Miss Matty so much! I'm glad you agree about the Victorian Chick Lit label. Since I'm not a chick lit reader, it felt a little presumptuous of me to call it that. :-) This will be getting a reread in the future for sure.

Bermudaonion ~ I hope you do! :-) Heather at 30+ A Lifetime of Books is having a read along in September, if you're interested.

Lezlie

Lezlie

Jenny said...

I've never heard of it but it sounds wonderful! Maybe I'll get to it eventually while I work on the 1001 books list. =)

Heather J. said...

so glad to hear that you liked this one! I'm so looking forward to starting it next month. BTW, thanks for mentioning my Read-A-Long - all are welcome. :)

Marg said...

I've watched some of the series and loved it! I haven't read the books yet though.

Trish said...

I've heard so much about Gaskell's books, this one especially, but haven't ventured to pick any of them up yet. I kind of like the idea of Victorian Chick Lit! :)

Oh, and I love that 1001 Books list--do you have the interactive excel spreadsheet? Someone input all of the books into excel and I LOVE it.

Lezlie said...

Jenny ~ It's an easy one to use to make a little headway on that list. Some of them are awfully intimidating! :-)

Heather ~ You're welcome! I hope you get tons of participants! I'll be following your discussion on it for sure!

Marg ~ Is there more than one "Cranford" book? If so, I need to read the others!

Trish ~ I do have the spreadsheets, both the original list and the updated 2008 version. They're awesome! Do you have the 2008 version, with the newly added books and a separate list of the ones that were removed? If not, I'd be happy to send it to you!

Lezlie

Michelle Moran said...

Ohhh... I've been meaning to get to this FOREVER. I am moving it to the top of the stack now. Thanks for the reminder!

Trish said...

Yes I have it and I'm irked by it! :P I think 20 or so of the books I had read were removed. I still like to count them but I always forget to look there for books I've recently read. LOL!

Mon said...

I just reviewed Gaskell's North and South. It's the first of hers that I read, and I enjoyed it. This one sounds good too. I've added it to my Amazon wish list from your link. Thanks!

Lezlie said...

Hi, Michelle! Ready for the big book release? Cranford would be a great read for if you ever have any "downtime" ever again. :-)

Trish ~ I hear you there. I lost some ground, too, but now I'm tracking the whole shebang. I mean, if I planned on reading 1001 books, why not 1400? Or whatever the grand total is.

Mon ~ You're welcome! I'll have to pick North and South up. I will definitely be reading more of her, too.

Lezlie

Rebecca Reid said...

Sounds great! I love an accessible classic! How am I ever going to get to all these wonderful books?!

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ We're not, but we're going to have a terribly good time trying! :-)

Lezlie

Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

I'm afraid to open the link to the 1001 books, lol.

BTW, I have an award for you here:
http://hefollowedmehome.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-excitingaward-time.html

Lezlie said...

Mel ~ I should probably include some sort of warning with that link, something about its addictive properties. :-)

Thank you so much for the award!
Lezlie

Jemima said...

I loved your review. I purchased the whole BBC Gaskell collection just recently. I love her work. I read them all years ago and it was fun watching the miniseries dramas. Cranford is a lot more light and humorous than Gaskell's other works in my opinion. I have been avoiding the list, but I may venture to have a look. I find it hard to remember which books I have already read in the past though.

Lezlie said...

Jemima ~ Thank you! And that is good to know about the rest of her work, otherwise I would be expecting more like Cranford. Her writing is so good, though, that I'm guessing I'll like most of her other stuff anyway. I put a whole slew of it on my Wishlist yesterday.

And, yes, "The List" can cause serious anxiety, but I mean that in the best possible way! :-) They're so fun to play with!

Lezlie

Amanda said...

I've been wanting to read this one as well. I just recently watched the movie/series thing of it w/ Judi Dench and LOVED it.

Lezlie said...

Amanda ~ You all almost have me all talked into watching it! :-)

Lezlie

Teddy Rose said...

I haven't read the book but PBS had a mini series last year of Cranford. I really enjoyed it.

Lezlie said...

Teddy ~ I think you would like it if you read it. It's adorable!

Lezlie

Petunia said...

The BBC movie was a lot of fun but when I tried to read the book I didn't find it interesting at all. I didn't get very far into it. I'll have to try again another time.

Lezlie said...

Petunia ~ I'm surprised so many people loved the BBC movie, but couldn't get into the book. Interesting. It's usually the other way around! :-) I wonder if it makes a difference which one a person does first, read or watch.

Lezlie