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.
A Striped Armchair
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!