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Cranford (Complete Classics) [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Elizabeth Gaskell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Oct 2007 Complete Classics
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.

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Cranford (Complete Classics) + "Ladies of Letters" (BBC Audio)
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Product details

  • Audio CD: 6 pages
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged edition (29 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 962634850X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626348505
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2.4 x 14.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Clare Wille's performance of this gently satirical look at a genteel English village in the first half of the nineteenth century may be the wittiest I've ever heard. 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. --B.B., AudioFile Magazine

Welcome to the quiet backwater of Cranford. The women are in charge, because the men mostly have business elsewhere. So the desperate gentlewomen keep busy sublimating more basic urges into a passion for Victorian social niceties. Clare Wille is delightfully warm and compassionate as the young narrator Mary Smith, fondly recounting the 'elegant economies' of her Cranford circle of spinsters and widows. Yet neither Mary's narrow field of focus nor the delicacy of her humour preclude sharp observations about the frailties of human nature or warnings of the disruption that events in the wider world are about to visit on her unsuspecting friends. The plotlines a mésalliance between a titled lady and one of the town s few virile men, a financial scandal, a beturbanned magician, a prodigal s return were probably pretty sensational when the novel was first published, but are most important as the frame on which Gaskell constructs a beguiling picture of a dying society. The BBC 1 costume-drama version shouldn't put Wille's telling of the original in the shade. --Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times

To prime myself for Return to Cranford, the new Masterpiece Classic sequel to last year s award-winning mini-series Cranford on PBS, I wanted to read Mrs Gaskell's original novel that it was adapted from. Since I am always short of reading time, I chose instead to listen to an audio recording, my favorite pastime during my commute to work. After a bit of research on Cranford audio book recordings, I settled on the Naxos AudioBooks edition. From my experience with their recording of Jane Austen's novels I knew the quality would be superior. I was not disappointed. This unabridged audio book recording is aptly read by Clare Wille whose sensitive and lyrical interpretation of Gaskell s narrative enhanced my enjoyment of the story by two fold. Her rendering of the different characters with change of timbre and intonation was charmingly effective. My favorite character was of course the kindhearted Miss Matty. Even though she is of a certain age she has a child-like naïveté refreshingly seeing her friends and her world in simple terms. In opposition to our present day lives of cell-phones, blackberries and information overload, a trip to Cranford was a welcome respite. I recommend it highly. 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of author Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell nee Stevenson's birth on 29 September 1810 in Chelsea, which was then on the outskirts of London. In celebration of her bi-centenary, Naxos Audiobooks will be releasing three additional recordings of her novels: North and South in February again read by Clare Wille, Wives and Daughters in March read by Patience Tomlinson and Cousin Phillis in May read by Joe Marsh. Happily, I will be enjoying many hours of great Gaskell listening this year. --Laurel Ann,

Book Description

Based on three Elizabeth Gaskell novels, The Cranford Chronicles follows the small absurdities and major tragedies in the lives of the people of Cranford, a small Cheshire market town, during one extraordinary year. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the DVD!!!! 6 May 2009
After watching the BBC series on TV, I had to get the books, and this edition contains all of the books used to make the series. Although there are some slight differences, for example the characters from the 3 stories don't intermingle as they do in the film, I really really enjoyed it, and having watched the DVD again, I think the books are equally good if not better because there are parts that aren't in the dvd - for example a sub-story about the french revolution told by Lady Ludlow. The book itself (as in the paper) is also good quality! You probably won't be disappointed!!! :-)
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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This novel contains one of my favourite lines; "it is high time that Miss Jessie lay off her dimples". This is a classic book that focuses on domesticity in the 18th century. It highlights the basically mundane life that faced women (particularly spinsters) of this era. If you want exitement and adventure this is not the book for you. If, however you are interested in the history of domesticity and how small things meant so much, then this book is delightful. I love it, and will reread it many more times.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable 6 Oct 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you have seen the tv series of Cranford then you have some idea of the story, although in that another two stories by Elizabeth Gaskell was added. Cranford isn't really a novel as such, it is a series of vignettes, or short stories and it was originally published from time to time in Household Words.

There is not a main plot as such, because of the way it was originally composed, however that doesn't detract from it as something fun to read. There is a lot of humour here, and my favourite is a cow being given clothing due to an accident. This is always fun to read, and is ideal for relaxing and unwinding to.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cranford 7 April 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a gentle tale of a long-gone way of life. It is beautifully read, and I enjoyed it very much. The style is naturally old-fashioned by today's standards, but there is humour in the content. I found that it helped to have seen the recent TV production starring Judy Dench, Imelda Staunton and many other famous actors, as I could picture them in my mind's eye as I listened, but if you are fond of writing from a bygone era, you should enjoy this too. The story gives an insight into life as it was in the mid 19th century, with its petty rituals and prejudices, so if you are offended by old fashioned class structures, this may not be for you!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Synopsis 19 Oct 2007
By Mary_10
The provincial town of Cranford is a community of delightful simplicity and innocence. Yet its values were already old-fashioned and under threat from the inevitable forces of change when the mid-Victorian Mrs Gaskell described them with ironic affection and a sharp eye for the ridiculous. 'Cranford' explores the dying way of life of the 'Amazons' - unwarlike maiden ladies and widows of a certain age. They practise elegant economics; their days are passed in visits, cards and genteel gossip. But alongside the comedy is the pathos of restricted lives borne with courage.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish she had written more. 23 Oct 2009
Cranford was written as a serial at the request of Charles Dickens for his paper, Household Words. It is a portrait of country town life before it was changed forever by the industrial revolution. Life moves at a gentle pace and we are acquainted with the qualities and quirks of the predominantly female society. Sometimes there is pettiness, but mostly, when push comes to shove, the ladies of Cranford are good as gold. Mrs. Gaskell tells her tale with obvious affection for Cranford which she based on her childhood home of Knutsford.

I was not too hopeful of enjoying a tale mostly about widows and spinsters but I was pleasantly surprised. This book both made me laugh and cry. Mrs. Gaskell manages to sometimes tell of what was probably considered rather vulgar in her day in a tasteful manner.

One of the funniest bits is when Mrs Forrester gets comfortable in the presence of Lady Glenmire and relates the near loss of a bit of precious old lace her ladyship was admiring. I will say it involves a cat and a borrowed boot. I laughed until it hurt.

I found Cranford a comfortable and pleasant escape. I will read this one again while sipping my favourite tea and my doors are open to let in the sound of birdsong.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming 23 Nov 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cranford wasn't originally a novel but a series of occasional articles appearing in 'Household Words'. Due to this the book as a whole does not really hold up to being a complete novel, however it does make a good read. The village of Cranford is run more or less by women, with only a few male characters making an appearance. Gaskell seems to be sticking two fingers up at those men who thought that women weren't really able to take control of their own lives. The women seem to get on alright at what they do.

Although there are deaths in the community this book is very up-beat and not depressing. Indeed amongst the pages there is quite a lot of comedy, with a cow in flannels, a cat given an emetic so it will excrete some lace it's ingested, and a magic show. On the whole I found this book a nice relaxing read about a world that no longer exists (if it ever did). People help each other and life moves at a steady and sedate pace.

If you enjoy Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy there is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 7 days ago by Mrs SLA Bedrossian
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle classic
This is a gentle classic for a quiet summer afternoon in the garden. A pleasure to read and relax with.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. C. M. Moon
5.0 out of 5 stars Bless dear Miss Matty...
Lovely, gentle story telling of days gone by...

A series of episodes detailing the domestic goings-on of a group of ladies (mostly spinsters), and the petty prejudices... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alison
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Period Read for Today
Mrs Gaskell reads like a modern author. The setting is 19th century but there is no sign of obfuscating English like you sometimes get in, say, Dickens. Read more
Published 4 months ago by brianinfrance
1.0 out of 5 stars reading of cranford on phone
Very old fashioned and boring for the modern reader. Won't be reading such old works again. Boring boring boring. Sorry.
Published 5 months ago by Miss P.GWoodman
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
It is an insight into life lived along time ago. Well written with interesting characters. How times have changed for women.
Published 5 months ago by Valzview
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentile reading
Reading the book was enhanced by seeing the BBC production of Cranford but it did not detract from the enjoyment of the prose.
Published 5 months ago by valerie taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed
Found this book difficult to get into after watching the tv version but I persisted and eventually got it. I think the tv version spoil this for me.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Life as it was in the Mid Nineteenth Century.
A really great story. Like so many stories written by these authors, it gives a clear picture of, not only the everyday happenings of those times, but also shows the thoughts and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by John Muskett
5.0 out of 5 stars Brill
Brilliant Book, another winner from Elizabeth Clrghorn Gaskell.
Couldnt find it in the bookshop, so well done Amazon for listing it. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. S. J. burge
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