This charming piece of social observation throws a gentle spotlight on life in a small village in northern England of the 1850s. The middle-aged ladies, existing in rather impoverished circumstances, nevertheless maintain the rules of politeness which they feel they should live by. Read with great sensitivity by Clare Wille.
Clare Wille's performance of this gently satirical look at a genteel English village in the first half of the nineteenth century is excellent. Like a kinder version of E.F. Benson's Mapp v. Lucia novels, Gaskell's ladies of Cranford have their jealousies and their vanities. They also have moments of quiet tragedy (a lost brother, a suitor rejected to please the family but never forgotten) and of high drama. Wille made me laugh aloud at the pompous trumpeting of the late Reverend Jenkins. When Miss Poe comes in out of breath, you could swear Wille was running up stairs while delivering her lines. Her performance is always fully engaged, at one with the story, which is itself a small gem.
Clare Wille's performance of Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford...may be the wittiest I've ever heard." (AudioFile Magazine)
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Charming episodes, beautifully told
Charming novella, well read
Listening to the story made it easier to follow along. I switched back and forth and both reading and listening had their merits, but this audio edition is at the very least equal to the print.
It is a bit like Winesburg, Ohio in that it's a series of interconnected stories that describe one town, but the tone is lighter, though the stories do cover some dark topics. It is also a bit like Lark Rise to Candleford.
Her tone matches the somewhat ironic, sometime sad but often funny voice of the narrator perfectly. Sometimes when reader perform Victorian novels they can drone, but Clare Wile kept the story interesting.
If I had the time, I could have easily listened to it all in one sitting.
This isn't a listen for someone looking for lots of drama or plot, but it is sweet, and evokes a time and place quite vividly.
- Pamela "Say something about yourself!"