on 18 October 2003
This book is a good introduction for anybody who has not read anything by Gaskell. Cranford is a wonderful series of stories that reflects the impact of change on a town during the mid 19th century. From one section to the next, you are never quite sure of what you will be reading. The tone changes - in some places, it can be poignant, in others, uplifting. Throughout Cranford there are instances of Mrs. Gaskell's subtle sense of humour, something that is not so obvious in novels like Ruth and Mary Barton that focus more explicitly on social commentary. The characters were, for me, probably the strongest feature, even beyond that of the actual plot itself. Cousin Phillis shares one of the central concerns of Cranford, namely, the issue of change and its effect on the rural communities. This story is not as straighforward as Cranford; the characters and situations are more ambiguous. It certainly showcases the author's development as a writer. Personally, I preferred Cranford, but both are worth reading, particularly as a shorter way of introducing yourself to Gaskell before beginning one of her novels.