Also by this author: North And South
Published by Wordsworth Editions on 2006
Genres: Classics, Fiction
Buy on Amazon
The sheer variety and accomplishment of Elizabeth Gaskell's shorter fiction is amazing. This new volume contains six of her finest stories that have been selected specifically to demonstrate this, and to trace the development of her art. As diverse in setting as in subject matter, these tales move from the gentle comedy of life in a small English country town in Dr Harrison's Confessions, to atmospheric horror in far north-west Wales with The Doom of the Griffiths. The story of Cousin Phillis, her masterly tale of love and loss, is a subtle, complex and perceptive analysis of changes in English national life during an industrial age, while the gripping Lois the Witch recreates the terrors of the Salem witchcraft trials in seventeenth-century New England, as Gaskell shrewdly shows the numerous roots of this furious outbreak of delusion. Whimsically modified fairy tales are set in a French chateau, while an engaging love story poetically evokes peasant life in wine-growing Germany.
The wonderful Allie at A Literary Odyssey is hosting a readalong of Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, and today is the day to post thoughts on chapters 1-8. I suppose you probably want to know what exactly Cranford is about, eh? Well, there isn’t really an overarching plot, rather, this is a series of connected, gentle vignettes about spinster ladies.
I am pretty sure Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell is to the 19th Century what Golden Girls are to my generation. It’s geriatric girl power. The only real difference is Cranford’s Blanche is a whole lot more chaste, her name is Miss Matilda, Mattie for short. She doesn’t actually hook up with anyone, but has a run-in with an old suitor, therefore she gets to be Blanche.
The ladies of Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell are all genteel, and super fab friends. They respect economy and look down on people who are flashy with their wealth. They socialize, deal with deaths, gossip, and write letters. Oh and hang out at tea.
I thought the cast of characters I have met so far all seem to be interesting and well-developed. You get to know certain quirks, which makes them feel like people I may know in real life. For example, there is one scene where the lady feeds her dog, Carlos cream in his tea instead of milk, because he can tell the difference, yet she gives her guests milk in their tea instead of precious cream. I definitely know people who treat their dogs like that.
And I guess, I will conclude my impressions of the first half of this book saying I enjoy reading about elderly, sassy ladies. Gaskell has a very easy going style in Cranford that makes it wonderful, before bed sort of read.