Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford is often called a comedy. There are humorous parts of the book, but it certainly is not funny throughout. And some of the humor might come from readers who do not respect the type of women portrayed in the book.

It was first published in 1851, so it gives a good feel for that time. It is the story of a handful of aging women who live in Cranford, England. Today Cranford is part of Greater London. Back then there was more separation.

Some of the women in the story have never married, some have lost their husbands, and one marries while the story progresses. This isn't important. Cranford is about the women, not the men. It is about their interest in class, in propriety, and in fashion. But mostly it is about their interest in each other. This is a book about friendship. I loved it for that.

When one of the women dies, her sister always remembers her and talks about her with respect and love. When that same sister loses her fortune, her friends secretly devise a method to provide her with money without embarrassing her. And her servant works out a way to offer her a place to live. It was a wonderful statement about humanity and what is most important in the nineteenth century as well as the twenty-first century.

I recommend this book for people who want a break from actions thrillers or stories about vampires and just want a chance to get to know some sweet people.

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