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3.65 out of 53.65 out of 53.65 out of 53.65 out of 53.65 out of 5 3.65 (96 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Gaskell Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781400189458
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Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell’s best-known work, is a humorous account of a nineteenth-century English village dominated by a group of genteel but modestly circumstanced women. This is a community that runs on cooperation and gossip, at the very heart of which are the daughters of the former rector: Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her sister, Miss Matty. But domestic peace is constantly threatened in the form of financial disaster, imagined burglaries, tragic accidents, and the reappearance of long-lost relatives.

By eschewing the conventional marriage plot with its nubile heroines and focusing instead on a group of middle-aged and elderly spinsters, Gaskell does something highly unusual within the novel genre. Through her masterful management of the novel’s tone, she underscores the value and dignity of single women’s lives even as she causes us to laugh at her characters’ foibles. Charles Dickens was the first of many readers to extol its wit and charm, and it has consistently been Gaskell’s most popular work.

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carel | 2/18/2014

    " I just couldn't get into this book. Although it came highly recommended, it just felt tedious. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carmine | 2/15/2014

    " Loved, loved, loved, loved this book so much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cadence | 2/12/2014

    " As a fan of the mini-series, I knew I needed to read the book. It was just as charming and heart-warming as the film adaptation. Elizabeth Gaskell is a brilliant author... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 2/10/2014

    " This book is so cute and has me laughing out loud. Definitely a new favorite! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rosslyn | 2/8/2014

    " I really, really didn't enjoy the minutae of this novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tink | 2/5/2014

    " An interesting read, but the BBC adaptation does so much more with the story and characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martina | 2/4/2014

    " I enjoyed trying to figure out whether there was a running plot or if it was a picaresque...Well drawn characters, but the character of this town of "amazons" is the real gem. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maureen Mahowald | 2/3/2014

    " I found it very difficult to get through this book. I selected this book because I loved the author's novel North and South. However, this book lacked the depth and breadth of North and South. The central story of small town life for aging women was tedious. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauretta | 2/2/2014

    " I listened to the audiobook "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 K. | 1/31/2014

    " "What does it signify how we dress here at Cranford, where everybody knows us?" And if they go from home, their reason is equally cogent, "What does it signify how we dress here, where nobody knows us?" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie | 1/23/2014

    " Quirky characters, amusing situations, a quiet, humorous style of writing and just a touch of pathos. It's all good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judith | 1/22/2014

    " This is another I return to with pleasure from time to time.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick Davis | 1/18/2014

    " Hilarious! (in an understated British sort of way) I kept thinking as I read this that Barbara Pym must have been a huge Cranford fan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melisa | 1/16/2014

    " Not my favorite by Gaskell, but still a relaxing read with plenty of humor. It's more like a series of vignettes than a larger story, so you have to go into it thinking that way otherwise you'll keep expecting some major plot and end up disappointed. I actually liked the Masterpiece Theatre productions of "Cranford" and "Return to Cranford" better than the book itself, because the characters were cast extremely well and came to life in the television productions - it was also made a more coherent story with beginning, middle and end in the screen production. I think of the novel as the product of Gaskell's numerous story ideas that were never fully developed, but are nonetheless amusing and entertaining to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 travelgirlut | 1/14/2014

    " I liked the writing style of these stories, but does it make me shallow to admit I like the movie better? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tebafin | 1/13/2014

    " I think I like watching the life of old spinsters..rather than reading about them.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rupertt Wind | 1/12/2014

    " Innocent beyond the constraint of imagination. The portrait of cramford id both admirable and joyous at the same time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elesa Hagberg | 1/11/2014

    " After watching this on Masterpiece theater, I had to read it. It is mostly just a collecting of stories about a little town in England. And some parts made me laugh out loud. Not enthralling, but enjoyable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joyce M. Tice | 1/9/2014

    " I have a fascination with the ways communities work and interract. This is a very satisfying rendition of that. It successfully takes you to that time and into those streets and buildings and interrelationships. Great book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 1/8/2014

    " This book is so cute and has me laughing out loud. Definitely a new favorite! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick Davis | 1/6/2014

    " Hilarious! (in an understated British sort of way) I kept thinking as I read this that Barbara Pym must have been a huge Cranford fan. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carel | 1/4/2014

    " I just couldn't get into this book. Although it came highly recommended, it just felt tedious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 1/4/2014

    " This book is so cute and has me laughing out loud. Definitely a new favorite! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deana | 1/2/2014

    " I personally had a hard time following the author's train of thought. I liked the movie much better in fact, what a huge disappointment as I've loved the movies by Masterpiece Theatre. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 12/31/2013

    " I have read most of Elizabeth Gaskell's books but somehow had never got round to this. A gentle read with lots of wry humour and a real insight into the lives of middle class Victorian of a certain age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shiloh | 12/17/2013

    " This is fun to read after seeing the movie. The movie actually combines story lines from several books--so I liked seeing which elements they included and which they changed or left out. It is a fun, quick read though. And as always I like Gaskell's writing style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Casey McGrath | 12/13/2013

    " This book deserves a more prominent status as a classic work of women's literature. It portrays the behind-the-times ways of a Victorian England town, Cranford, through vignettes that capture the lives of its women and their give and take relationships with each other. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruthe | 12/4/2013

    " I really liked this book. I loved how Miss Matty was so thoughtful and kind to everyone and her example made those around her want to be better people too. Not a deep read just a fun story. I still have to get used to how some of these classic books end so abruptly though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 11/3/2013

    " This book makes me want to use words like "charming" and "delightful" without irony. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Louiza Frohlich | 10/30/2013

    " As sweet as the TV series was. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa Engberg | 10/30/2013

    " I'm a big fan of Gaskell- I much prefer her to Dickens! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky | 10/26/2013

    " Gaskell's usual wit shines through in this one. It's a fun read and has memorable characters, but I missed her depth and plot development she has had in other books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate Miller | 10/12/2013

    " Delightful, for sure. The sisterhood among the woman of Cranford was fun to invest a little time in. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 10/10/2013

    " A series of sweet vingettes about life in a bit of a small-town, spinster community. It explores (and celebrates) the sometimes comical ways women interact, and the love and support friends provide one another. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tienwood | 9/30/2013

    " A nice cozy book, but for me not as good as some books of writers from the same time, like for instance the Bronte-sisters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Victoria Laskowski | 9/29/2013

    " I loved this book. Mrs Gaskell wrote with great perception and humor. It was truly a treat to read. Maybe I will watch the series now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Siobhan | 9/10/2013

    " I enjoyed these stories, but felt a much stronger emotional connection to her superior, in my opinion, North and South. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Wolf | 8/3/2013

    " A very sweet collection of tales, many of them involving elderly ladies in rural England. Love the one about the woman who has so much faith in her local bank (undeserved, unfortunately). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 SueDella | 7/6/2013

    " Fun read that reminded me very much of Jane Austen and all the subtleties of English country life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kellie | 5/15/2013

    " This book was charming and giggly and sweet - while I listened to it, I felt like a cozy friend was with me :) I don't know if I'd love to read it because its plot doesn't move quickly, but listening to the British author read it was great fun. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nanda | 4/26/2013

    " I loved this quaint story, only improved by the excellent TV adaptation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marcie | 4/6/2013

    " Not my favorite of Gaskell's books but another great read. All of her books have such heart and humor. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Benjamin | 3/23/2013

    " Great book, about the life of a group of elderly women in a small English town, highlighting social changes in the 19th century along the way. Gaskell manages to be droll, affectionate and satirical, all at the same time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cayenne | 3/22/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book with its amusing characters and portrayal of the simple life of a small English town in the 1800's. The kindness they show each other contrasted with the airs they put on is touching as well as humorous. Cleverly written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 2/13/2013

    " I have read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and so I thought that Cranford wouldn't disappoint. It was a really good book, and surprisingly funny. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Natalie | 1/17/2013

    " This was less a novel, and more a series of short stories. Not my favorite. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Adela | 1/13/2013

    " I really enjoyed the PBS movie of Cranford, but the book fell a little flat, even though the funny old lady parts from the book are the funniest in the movie. I'd definitely recommend watching the DVD instead of bothering with the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chloe H. | 1/4/2013

    " A completely delightful read with a wonderful setting and characters. Cranford was originally published as a serial, and my only complaint is that it still reads that way...disjointed at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lady of the Lake | 12/31/2012

    " Timesay change... But people never do! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cecily | 12/18/2012

    " Fairly self-contained chapters recalling a woman's visits to the town she grew up in. Charming, amusing, female-centred ("Cranford is in possession of the Amazons"). Fortunately I read it before the dreadful BBC adaptation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorna | 12/18/2012

    " I read this in almost one sitting one summer and loved it. My edition had Dame Judy Dench on the cover from the wonderful Masterpiece production and that made me love it more. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maureen Mahowald | 12/8/2012

    " I found it very difficult to get through this book. I selected this book because I loved the author's novel North and South. However, this book lacked the depth and breadth of North and South. The central story of small town life for aging women was tedious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Care | 11/4/2012

    " This took a while to get into. Once I put it down, it was days before I got back to it. BUT, I was rededicated to it round abt page 40 and the rest seemed to fly. I loved this book almost as much as I loved Miss Matty. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kara Vehar | 10/1/2012

    " It was very different then the movie it was a lot shorter then I thought it would be. It was a good book though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bayneeta | 9/13/2012

    " I loved this book! I read it after watching the PBS version with Judi Dench. I don't know why I'd never heard anything about Gaskell before. A combination of Dickens and Austen--mid-19th century England--a little window into another world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beka | 9/12/2012

    " The book was a fun look at the transition from rural to industrial England. The BBC mini-series was FABuLOUS!!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlynn | 9/8/2012

    " On the surface, Cranford appears to be somewhat dull. However, if you are a fan of dry humor, this book will have you laughing out loud! Elizabeth Gaskell is just as skilled as Jane Austen at making societal observation with humor and intelligence. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina | 8/29/2012

    " So refreshing! The love of the community women for each other warmed my heart, and the narrator's humor frequently made me grin, if not laugh out loud. The BBC's adaptation was lovely, too, but the producers/writers added several story threads not in the original. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Breena Welker Jenson | 6/28/2012

    " Comfort food, but is it horrible to say that I enjoyed the recent BBC miniseries version even more than the book? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jess | 6/28/2012

    " Cranford is a more like a book of short stories than a novel. I found it a bit incongruous and over-long. Not a novel I would recommend to a friend. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 1/22/2012

    " It was occasionally amusing, I guess I just needed more of a plot. At least the book club at the library was pleased by it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 1/10/2012

    " It was very pleasant to listen to as I worked around the house. My spirit was taken to another time and place, where I met very charming people. I like Gaskell as much as Austen, and more than Dickens. Definitely Masterpiece Theater material! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mom Wangsgard | 9/27/2011

    " I finished and enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dianna | 8/18/2011

    " I enjoyed this book although it was a bit slow. Lacking a strong overall plot, instead it is a series of anecdotes about the town of Cranford. I especially enjoyed the characters and the witty comments that punctuate the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Blake | 7/17/2011

    " I loved the language and the humor in Cranford. It was issued as a series and that's how it reads. The characters are so colorful and fully developed and we see that people act today just like they did in 1851. It really captures the charm of small town life. Look for some oddities as you read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alison | 5/16/2011

    " I really wish I'd discovered this when I was younger. Cranford is absolutely delightful, full of humour and wonderful characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 5/4/2011

    " I have read most of Elizabeth Gaskell's books but somehow had never got round to this. A gentle read with lots of wry humour and a real insight into the lives of middle class Victorian of a certain age. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 4/26/2011

    " Good, but more of a collection of random stories. Little dry, sometimes hard to get through, but worth a read :)



    The BBC mini series is excellent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Purlewe | 4/25/2011

    " I loved this. And I am not ashamed to say some stories brought tears to my eyes. Something about the smiplistic description just made me fall into this world. I will be reading more Gaskell. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caroldunn | 4/23/2011

    " I loved this book and its characters, but it's a very old fashioned read. You have to be in the right mood to enjoy it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 4/19/2011

    " Elizabeth Gaskell. We're friends now. Austen + Dickens + delightful characters = what's not to love? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ms_prue | 3/31/2011

    " I LOLed. Several times. I think that's pretty good for a book written in the 1850s. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 3/23/2011

    " Very nice. Knowing that this was originally serialized in Dickens' Household Words, I think the format of the book suits the publication very well. Miss Matty is a delightful cahracter, although you do want to shake her on occasion. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 3/23/2011

    " I've enjoyed other books by Elizebeth Gaskell, but I found this book lacking in character. Most likely because it was a collection of anecdotes rather than a novel.

    An enjoyable read, but not one I'd add to my list to buy or revisit in the future. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison | 3/22/2011

    " Although it took me a little bit to get into the book, I ended up liking the oddities of Cranford! So many chuckles! I heard the movie is great and covers the other books in the series. When I am able to find 4 spare hours, I will watch it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 3/20/2011

    " So charming...the PBS series was based on this book. One review said that the main character is really the town of Cranford (and its residents) and I would have to agree. "

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About the Author
Author Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810–1865) was an English novelist and short-story writer born in London and raised in Knutsford, Cheshire, which became the model for village settings in her novels. In 1832 she married William Gaskell, a Unitarian minister. Her first novel, Mary Barton, published in 1848, was immensely popular and brought her to the attention of Charles Dickens, who solicited her work for his periodical, Household Words, for which she wrote the series subsequently reprinted as Cranford.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.