Cranford

22 Apr

Just finished Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell.  Amazon has three of her novels together (Cranford, Dr Harrison’s Confessions, and My Lady Ludlow); the so named The Cranford Chronicles. Various story lines from these three books were the basis for the BBC Cranford miniseries.  The women who produced, directed and wrote the series did not use just the novel Cranford.  They wove together characters and their stories from the three tales, a fact of which I was unaware until after watching the miniseries a second time.

It looks as if there is a new DVD, Return to Cranford now, also.

I got the book and DVDs from the library.

The miniseries chronicles a pivotal year of change in the lives of members of the town of Cranford. Modernity is arriving and turning everything upside down!

The novel is more a catalogue of how older women of a certain social strata in a small town lived, and how time and change slowly encroached on a way of life that had seemed unchanged within memory. There is very particular detail paid to manners, dress, social interactions.  Parts are very amusing.

“They joined issue to dispute whether llamas were carnivorous animals or not; in which dispute they were not quite on fair grounds, as Mrs. Forrester (after they had grown warm and cool again) acknowledged that she had always confused carnivorous and graminivorous together, just as she always confused horizontal and perpendicular; but then she apologized for it very prettily, by saying that in her day the only use people made of four-syllabled words was to teach how they should be spelt.”

“…but even Miss Pole herself, whom we looked upon as a kind of prophetess from the knack she had of foreseeing things before they came to pass–although she did not like to disturb her friends by telling them her fore-knowledge…”

In many ways more concerned with particular details of daily life than Austen or E. Bronte,  and midway between Bronte’s hidden emotions and Austens examinations of them, Gaskell gives some insight into the stiff English manners and ‘elegant economy’ of poorer middle-class women.

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