Friday, November 9, 2012


Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford reads like a series of vignettes.  Originally published as a series of short stories in Charles Dickens' magazine, it's hard to even call some of them short stories.  Rather, they're sketches of life in the little town of Cranford, among the shabbily genteel spinsters of the town.

It's a humorous collection with some deeper under-currents, particularly about the way the social structure is changing right under people's feet, but the whole thing feels a bit slight to me.  There's a deep gap between Gaskell's finely drawn characters in North and South and the broader caricatures on display here.  Here, the "disappointing" label is apropos; it's not so much that this is a bad book as that I'd been hoping for better.

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