The Cranford Chronicles, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (6 ratings)


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.

In this witty and poignant story the railway is pushing its way relentlessly towards the town from Manchester, bringing fears of migrant workers and the breakdown of law and order.

The arrival of handsome young Doctor Harrison causes yet further agitation not just because of his revolutionary methods but also because of his effect on the hearts of the ladies.

Meanwhile Miss Matty Jenkyns nurses her own broken heart after she was forced to give up the man she loved when she was a young girl.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780099518457

Other Formats



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

  Previous  |  Next

Review by

Funny, perceptive, poignant, enjoyable. Doesn't necessarily always confrom to modern ideas about the structure of a novel, but that is hardly a problem, and the characterisation is superb.

Review by

A pleasing account (somewhat tongue in cheek) about a group of society wantta be's. The characters are masterfully crafted. The story itself remains genteel and therefore pleasant and charming but seemed fairly superficial to me.

Review by

The Cranford Chronicles consists of three short stories:Mr Harrison's Confessions (the shortest)CranfordMy Lady LudlowThey are all separate stories but set in the same sort of place - mainly a small northern town where the population happens to be many unmarried women who all seem half afraid of getting married or desperate to. <b>Mr Harrison's Confessions</b> is about a young surgeon who comes to work in a new town and his introduction to the town folk. He is a nice young man, maybe a bit impressionable but a good doctor. In a town of unmarried or widowed women he soon finds himself rather the object of unwanted attraction. Meanwhile, he has fallen in love with the vicar's daughter.It is a rather humour observation of people and life told in first person by Mr Harrison as if he is telling a friend. The friend is unknown and unnamed - a theme through out these three short stories. <b>Cranford</b> is again, a humour observation of life within a small town consisting mainly of spinster women who are not at all used to men. Gaskell takes pleasure I think in affectionately mocking the society, making fun out of these women. At the centre is Miss Mattie Jenkyns who is the most lovely person - never married though that in itself is a little sad. The women are terrible gossips and prone to hysteria. It is very admirable though, in those days for these women to be so independent and having chosen to remain unmarried (whether by choice or ill opportunity) when being married would have of course been easier and perhaps better financially for them.The women of Cranford are rather infatuated with the idea of being linked to aristocracy and take pride in any trace of blue blood. In truth they are all rather poor but that is not spoken of amongst any of them. It is told from the first person perspective of a character whose name you don't even hear of until towards the end. She is rather a background character, she just happens to be there - she is you the reader - and she merely related the goings on of Cranford to you the reader. You do not really hear of her character, what kind of person she is etc - she is a friend of the Jenkyns' and stays with them throughout the story which takes place over a number of years.It feels almost like a gentle soap as the story happens in episodic spurts. A little slow going due to the passivity of the narration and there is very little story - more so a character study of these people. Nevertheless I did enjoy Cranford very much and loved Gaskell's subtle sense of humour.<b>My Lady Ludlow</b> is slightly different from the first two, the humour is not so light hearted any more and it feels a little melancholy. It is set I believe in the early 1800's and is about the old kind of society. Set in a time before the industrial revolution and railways and before the post arrived daily. Lady Ludlow is an extremely kind, generous and lovely person but she does not believe that the 'lower orders' should receive an education. She comes into conflict over a lot of change and the prospect of a school being built. This is the slowest of the three but I think from a social standpoint, very interesting. There is a long passage relating to the French revolution and the fleeing aristocrats of the time. Unfortunately I thought this felt very segmented and uninvolving despite it's obvious interest. Once again, this is told from the view point of someone who does not become very involved in the story and instead relates what happens as she observes it. In part this has been a weakness I feel as it is difficult really to feel a part of the story, as a reader I felt more like an outsider. But then I think in part I enjoyed it for that as well - it is like having a window into a particular society - where there are some very lovely, kind people despite their face-value unlikeableness. Lady Ludlow may have disliked schooling and felt herself to be on a higher grain - something that to today's readers and even the readers of the time of publication may have found old hat - but she was gentle and kind and looked after her people - and did not think them so beneath herself that she would not associate with them.Miss Galindo was a severe spoken woman, quite manly (when she was trying to be!) who swore and came across sour and rude - but is in fact a lovely woman, truly kind with a big heart.Mr Horner, cold, detached and cross was a good steward who had the estate's best interests at heart - took in a poacher's son who everyone else would have discarded - and gave him an education.Mr Gray, parson who was always turning red and very passionate also turned people around and saw the grains in good in people where the was any.All three stories tell of the goodness of people and the kindness. It is perhaps a littler sugar-coated but that is sometimes what we need.It is not a book without sadness or tragedy though, but shows many characters whom we may judge to be one way, are actually in fact another.

Review by

I’ve been meaning to read something by Elizabeth Gaskell for a long time since my good friend and fellow BookCrosser mrsgaskell really liked her books. I once asked her which was her favourite and she said she liked all of them but that Cranford might be the best one to start with. Sadly, mrsgaskell lost her battle with cancer earlier this year and I never had a chance to discuss her namesake’s writing with her. In her memory I suggested to the book club we both attended that we read Cranford and so we decided to have it for our September book. This book actually contains two other works of fiction by Gaskell, Mr. Harrison’s Confessions and My Lady Ludlow. Mr. Harrison’s Confessions is fairly short, more like a novella, but was a good introduction to EG’s style. Mr. Harrison was a newly graduated surgeon who came to a small town to practice with an established bachelor doctor. As might be expected a young unattached professional man excited a certain amount of interest amongst the unmarried females of the town. It was quite a humourous look at love and courtship all coming right in the end.The second book was Cranford. The narrator is a young woman, called Mary Smith (as we eventually learn), who does not live in Cranford but visits it frequently because her father was from there. Polite society in Cranford consists almost entirely of women on their own either because they never married or because they are widowed. Mary is very fond of the women but is not blind to their eccentricities and foibles. She mostly stays with the Misses Jenkyns when she visits but there is so much visiting back and forth that she keeps in contact with all the other ladies. When the elder Miss Jenkyns dies her sister, Miss Matty, tries to keep things the same as her sister would have wanted them. However, when the bank that the elder Miss Jenkyns had invested their estate with goes bankrupt Miss Matty must cut back to almost nothing. Mary Smith and her father are ready to help but it is really the neighbourhood who stands behind her. The third book, My Lady Ludlow, is also narrated by a woman. Margaret Dawson’s father, a clergyman, died quite young leaving his widow and children without means of support. The widow contacted her relative, Lady Ludlow, to see if she could do anything to help and Lady Ludlow offered to take Margaret into her home where she was raising a few young women. Lady Ludlow was a widow with only one child, the present Lord Ludlow, living. She had been an attendant in court during her early years but on becoming a widow had retired to her family home. She was a woman of decided tastes and thoughts but very kind and compassionate as well. One of her beliefs was that the lower classes should not be educated. When a new pastor came to the church with many thoughts of reform Lady Ludlow clashed with him. But Mr. Grey was quite determined and he continued to work towards getting a village school. This should have earned him the Lady Ludlow’s enmity but as things work out Mr. Grey and Lady Ludlow become quite close. Margaret observes everything from her sofa in the Lady’s room where she is laid up by a chronic hip problem. Of the three books I definitely liked Cranford the best. I thought the characters were the best described and the storyline was interesting with a satisfactory ending. Mr. Harrison’s Confessions was too brief to completely catch my interest but it was quite funny. My Lady Ludlow seemed to be rather a collection of stories with a thread of a common character to keep them together. One of the storylines reminded me of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and another reminded me of a book I read recently, Is He Popenjoy by Anthony Trollope. I believe both these authors were contemporaries of EG but I don’t know enough to decide if she inspired them or if they inspired her. I understand that these three works were placed together because they formed the basis of a BBC series. I’ll have to look for that to come on PBS or CBC one of these days.

Review by

One of the few times I can say I liked the movie best. The back of the book calls it a comic masterpiece, but I would just call it mildy amusing. It was good, but it didn't blow me away by any means. But I'm glad I read it.

  Previous  |  Next