Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell begins with an introduction discussing the occupants of the rural English village named Cranford. Cranford is filled with widows, wives of absent business or military men, and spinsters.
The residents of Cranford are regimented aristocrats who "practice 'elegant economy.'" The ladies go calling only during prescribed times, serve one another inexpensive foods, pretend not to notice each other’s poverty, and go to bed early. The narrator is a young woman with familial ties to Miss Jenkyns and Miss Matty who are two spinsters who have lived in Cranford their entire lives.
Elizabeth Gaskell's witty, episodic novel examines a society on the cusp, a beautifully observed, exquisitely crafted slice of 19th century English provincial life.
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