Cranford

Thoughts  Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Folio Society 1987, 201 pages

Click here to go to more of BermudaOnion’s Wondrous Wednesday Word meme —————>

I bookmooched this book back in July of 2010. I did not know anything about Cranford, only that the dear lady I was tutoring in how to use a PC – email, internet and such, recommended it as her very favorite book ever. I love to ask people their favorite books (even though, I find it a difficult question to answer myself) and she did not hesitate to name Gaskell’s Cranford. I had to have it!

Just click on the book cover above to go read a synopsis. Or click here for a favorable thorough review by Lola. I specifically chose her post because it is 1) short, and 2) links to two other reviews that are EXCELLENT. Go.

So. I attempted it once. I’ve attempted it twice. Just couldn’t get hooked. I found myself rereading sentences because I totally failed to recall what I had just read.

Time passed.

When it was my time to select or offer books for book club, I gathered up all the more ‘classic’ books I had on my shelves begging to be read. I was thinking we needed a push to read something, ahem, more refined older classic. It had been suggested the month’s chooser-person present just ONE book rather than a few to vote on but I COULD NOT DECIDE!  I was way too overwhelmed. The group voted for Cranford. I secretly was hoping for Brideshead Revisited which was a close second. I didn’t vote.

I now had a reason to commit. For the third time, I opened this book. And then I got nervous, “Oh, great, EVERYONE* is going to HATE this. SOB!” Dread was hitting me like a bucket of lead.

I got to the point, once again, that seemed insurmountable and I had to push through.

I loved it. Not highly loved it, but loved it for FOUR slices of pie! I don’t recall a mention of pie in the book so not sure what kind of pie…

I loved the gentle sly wit. The keen characterisation. The descriptions of social conventions and the fear and aversion of men. (Such uncouth beasts. Shudder.) The way the gals rallied to support Matty when she found herself [spoiler alert! Just highlight the blank space at the right:] destitute. I even cried! More than once I got sniffles. I thought it captured beautifully a time long ago and the trials women faced. I can see why it is beloved.

I suppose I get that some people might not choose it nor like it for reading fun. The question that bugs me is did I end up liking it because it was my selection? How will I ever know?

Still, it’s almost funny to read the abhorrence this gets by some on goodreads. Loathing?! really? Thank gawd it was under 200 pages then. So, allow me to share from one of the one POSITIVE and insightful reviews I found:

“… it’s lovely, because, in a subtle sort of way and without the characters themselves being aware of it, we see the outer layers stripped away, the worldly mental and emotional baggage put down, and peer quietly at naked souls. Not particularly exciting souls, just normal little souls, going about and trying to figure out where they belong in the world. It was a wonderfully enjoyable way to [...] quietly remember the humanity of everyone around me, …” 

- 5-Squared, to read the whole review, click here.

WORDS

2 gigot – a leg of mutton or lamb.
16 quondam – that once was; former
33 recondite – little known; abstruse
40 naming cows by the alphabet – amusing
51 tears – almost cried when Martha is allowed to have ‘followers’
53 mesmeric – causing a person to become completely transfixed and unaware of anything else around them
89 sedulously – showing dedication and diligence
107 betimes – before the usual or expected time; early
123 videlicet – namely: as follows (which is pronounced three different ways?)
142 elephant!! Mentioned because last book for club was about elephants

* So far, one of my bookclubbers has given it ONE STAR in goodreads. oh no.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.
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24 Responses to “Cranford”


  1. 1 Jeanne May 23, 2012 at 7:11 am

    The review you quote at the end reminds me of the Anne Tyler novel I just read, her newest one. Maybe I’d like this novel too.

    • 2 Care May 23, 2012 at 7:13 am

      It’s actually a collection of vignettes. I might criticize that it was wrapped up a bit too neatly, tho. Gaskell apparently only meant to write a few and they were so popular, she ended up writing the series. I’m glad I read it.

  2. 4 bermudaonion (Kathy) May 23, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Oh, the pressure of suggesting a book for your book club. I’m glad you finally made it through it, loved it, and discovered a few new words.

  3. 6 Karen K. May 23, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I always try to suggest my unread books for book groups too, I’m totally mercenary that way.

    I liked Cranford but I had seen the TV series first. Despite knowing the plot, the book was different than I expected. It is pretty slow and you can’t rush it.

    And I’m confused, the link to your classics begging to be read leads to a blog post about poetry — is it somewhere in the post? Of course I am curious to know which unread classics are sitting on your shelves so that I can compare them to my own!

    • 7 Care May 23, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Yes, it’s buried in there – I really only had 3 books to vote on: Brideshead Revisited (because I have yet to read this author and I want to see the movie) and A River Runs Through (same reasons as Brideshead AND a respected blogger lists as FAVE-EVER book.)

      You should have seen the tentative list I had accumulated for selection! It ended up almost 100 books long and I panicked.

  4. 8 Louise May 23, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I haven’t read Cranford but have watched the delightful BBC adaptation. I’m glad you pushed on, and ended up enjoying it. I only knew gigot of your words, I’m pretty sure it’s the French term.

  5. 10 Melissa (@AvidReader12) May 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I read this just after I started my blog. Allie at a Lit Odyssey hosted a readalong (my first) and I think it’s because of that that I enjoyed it so much. I would have been bored if I hadn’t given it the time needed to appreciate the quiet humor and friendship. I’m so glad you liked it too. The BBC version is really wonderful!

    • 11 Care May 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Is there a way to setup an alert with a TV station to send me a notice when a show is on? I really want to see the ‘movie’ but don’t have Netflix anymore…

  6. 12 Libby May 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Nice post! And most of the words are new to me! I like gigot – that there is one word that means ‘leg of lamb.’ I guess that it will be hard for me to work into conversations, but still a good word!!

  7. 14 Ti May 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    So glad it worked out for you in the end. Book club dread over a bad selection is something I’ve felt in the past and it is not fun!

    I keep hearing about this Cranford book but it sounds like a book I’d read in-between two heavier reads. Not really a book I’d read by itself.

    • 15 Care May 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      I actually interrupted it with The Uninvited Guests then when back and finished then returned the Guests… It worked. Although, I was ready for a book NOT set in England.

  8. 16 Amused By Books (@amusedbybooks) May 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Ack I haven’t even heard of this classic. I am so uncultured!

  9. 18 Vasilly May 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I’m glad you ended up enjoying this. Not because I’ve read this (I haven’t) but because I can imagine the dread you were feeling. :-)

  10. 21 Debi May 24, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I got ahold of this book because of Ana. And still haven’t read it. I’m not sure why I’m such a doggone wimp when it comes to classics. Loved your review–not just because as always you made me smile big old goofy smiles, but because it reminded me that when I do pick this one up I need to remember to just take it slow and easy and enjoy it instead of getting frustrated.

  11. 23 aartichapati May 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    This may sound horrible, BUT… Elizabeth Gaskell is one author that I feel is improved in BBC television adaptation form. I LOVED North & South, I adored Wives & Daughters. I also thoroughly enjoyed Cranford. On film. In the reading… not so much. I might chalk this up to my general dislike of long-winded Victorians…

    • 24 Care May 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      I think you may be onto something. Perhaps, (especially considering ‘recent’ adaptions) that they have been able to translate these to a modern viewer?


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