History: The best-known novel of the 19th century English writer Elizabeth Gaskell. It was first published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words, which was edited by Charles Dickens.
Plot: The book has little in the way of plot and is more a series of episodes in the lives of Mary Smith and her friends, Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two spinster sisters. One of the "major" events in the story is the return to Cranford of their long-lost brother, Peter Jenkins, which in itself is only a minor portion of the work, leaving the rest of the novel at a low-key tone. More like a book of short stories about the town of Cranford, and the lack of male characters within it.
Review: I thought this was a very boring book, not only in the way it was written but the lack of substance. Some of it can be humourous, like the cat that swallowed the piece of treasured lace, or Peter that dressed up like a woman holding a baby, but not enough to hold my attention, because as soon as it introduced an interesting character, they were gone, tragically like dead, or enlisted in the army. I hate to do it, but I compare this writer with the dreaded Jane Austen.
Opening Line: "In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women."
Closing Line: "We all love Miss Matty, and I somehow think we are all of us better when she is near us."
Quotes: ". . . she would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men. Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior."