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Extended Audio Sample Cranford Audiobook, by Elizabeth Gaskell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.66 out of 53.66 out of 53.66 out of 53.66 out of 53.66 out of 5 3.66 (38 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Gaskell Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455178964
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Cranford is Elizabeth Gaskell’s gently comic picture of life and manners in an English country village during the 1830s. It describes the small adventures in the lives of two middle-aged sisters in reduced circumstances, Matilda and Deborah Jenkyns, who do their best to maintain their standards of propriety, decency, and kindness. At the center of the novel is Miss Matty, whose warm heart and tender ways compel affection and regard from everyone around her. Also revealed are the foibles and attributes of the pompous Mrs. Jamieson and her awesome butler, the genial Captain Brown, the loyal housemaid Martha, and others.

Using an intimate, gossipy voice that never turns sentimental, Gaskell skillfully conveys the old-fashioned habits, subtle class distinctions, and genteel poverty of the townspeople. Cranford is one of the author’s best-loved works.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Bathed in a poignant, dreamlike mood found nowhere else in fiction.”

    Guardian

  • “The most perfect of Mrs. Gaskell’s creations.”

    Saturday Review

  • “Reader Nadia May lends an authentic air to the women’s complaints about bonnets and servants, adding a somber note when the villagers experience death and robbery.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Jay | 2/20/2014

    " This gem of a novella reads like a lost diary of a maiden aunt. Beautifully detailed, alternately heartbreaking and laugh out loud funny, I could hear the witty voice of a Maggie Smith or a Judi Dench in my ear as I read. Nothing much happens in this story of daily life in the village of Cranford in the middle 1800s. Well, lots happens--people die, marry, have babies, go missing, lose their fortunes, disgrace themselves--but, plot wise, nothing really happens. The narrator, Mary Smith, is not a resident of Cranford, but a regular visitor and shares what she sees, beautifully. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia | 2/11/2014

    " The first half was slow and disjointed, but the second half was more entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ms_prue | 2/9/2014

    " 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 E.d. | 2/4/2014

    " I decided to read this after watching the mini-series on TV. Gaskell is so full of compassion and appreciation for her characters they almost seem real. It was laugh out loud funny but also a tear jerker. It is refreshing to read a book of this time period about a woman of a certain age instead of a pretty, young, marriage-minded heroine. I loved the friendship and camaraderie between the older single women in this small town. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharanya | 1/27/2014

    " Charmingly predictable little tales that jar in a few places, but lifted up by that wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humour I have grown to love in some village tales. One of my favourite lines: "In his pleasantest and most gracious moods, he looked like a sulky cockatoo." This was a lovely introduction to Elizabeth Gaskell's work (thank you Jochelle!)and I'm looking forward to reading her other books, which (I think) speak for the have-nots. Gaskell had an eye for the little foibles and vanities that give life to these little portaits, and what may have seemed artificial in another is just right with her. I wish she had written more in this vein (my edition also has 'The Cage at Cranford', 'Mr Harrison's Confessions', and 'My Lady Ludlow', which were unexpected bonuses). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather Greenwood | 1/26/2014

    " This book was light and didn't require any deep thought, which was what I wanted. Not a page turner, but still delightful "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessie | 1/21/2014

    " I'm learning a lot about 19th-century English etiquette thanks to the extensive footnotes - and I'm really enjoying it! Funny. I don't give a damn about 21st century etiquette... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tocotin | 1/17/2014

    " A sleepy English town (more like a village) is ruled by a group of more or less elderly ladies of modest means, most of them spinsters or widows. There is so little going on that every unusual occurrence, no matter how banal, immediately becomes food for the wildest speculations and gossips. The main character is soft-hearted Miss Matty who is indiscriminately loved by all the inhabitants and serves as an unifying force, bringing out the best in everyone. The stories in Cranford are sweet and dainty, but the author's sharp observation skills and sense of irony saved them for me. I was touched in some places, but more often appalled at the power of class distinction and snobbism. But it's a nice book to read while eating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalie Banta | 1/15/2014

    " A disappointment after North and South, but I still enjoyed it. The novel is much more a collection of vignettes, and each had some amusing descriptions of the women's idiosyncrasies. The genteel limits women placed on their minds at this time period is a bit much and the middle of the book dragged. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 1/2/2014

    " a bowl of creamy grits with butter, a tall glass of sweet tea, a thick slice of homemade cinnamon bread with apple butter "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anners | 12/27/2013

    " If you like Jane Austen, read this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 12/14/2013

    " This was a book of vignettes about old spinsters in a town called Cranford. It was a fun, fairly quick read. (I would also recommend the Masterpiece Theater production of this!) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine Bowles | 12/9/2013

    " While I found the stories in this book entertaining, I left each story slightly confused as to how it related in the storyline. I also couldn't avoid the feeling of being abandoned at the end of the book, no real enfing was provided. I did enjoy it though as more of a collection of short stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alicia | 12/8/2013

    " Slow to get started, but very sweet. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christi | 11/20/2013

    " I enjoyed this book, though some of my book-club friends thought it was kinda boring. It's primarily about a bunch of funny old ladies; don't let the BBC/PBS version fool you...that one incorporated other Gaskell stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 8/17/2013

    " Charming. At times melodramatic, but isn't that one of the things we love about Victorian writers? Even without the draw of a young romance in the story, I still found the book highly enjoyable. Gaskell's portrait of the spinsters of Cranford was painted with respectful humor and insight. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Adela | 5/21/2013

    " 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 Carolyn Stow | 3/27/2013

    " This was a delightful, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, book that gives a good example of life in the mid-19th Century. It was a very early version of People Magazine! A real treat. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsay | 1/21/2013

    " It's an amazingly charming book about middle-aged, gossipy women. At first, the story didn't seem to have a clear purpose, but it's winding plot settled nicely in the end. Now I"m going to watch the Masterpiece miniseries and compare! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phyllis | 10/17/2012

    " I am reading this book via Kindle. Love it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brenda Martin | 10/5/2012

    " On the surface, this is an account of pastoral English life in the 18th century. On a deeper level it is about a community of spinsters who are definitely in charge! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stuart Frazer | 1/13/2012

    " I enjoyed more than I thought I would "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marianne | 12/1/2011

    " Not Gaskell's best works and you really have to wind down in speed to enjoy this. It's a marvellous book depicting the "smallness" of or "the largeness of small things" in the lives of the victorian women in Cranford. The film highlighted Gaskell's real humour. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elesa Hagberg | 8/18/2011

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ginger | 8/5/2011

    " kind of dry, I kept expecting something to happen and it never did. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charity U | 7/21/2011

    " So much fun! A delightful small-town collection of stories -- really fun. :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marilyn | 6/16/2011

    " Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Read it after seeing the BBC adaptation and intend to read more of her works now. "

  • 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.