Friday, February 15, 2008

Cranford - The Book

I wanted to wait an appropriate amount of time to read Cranford after watching the recent BBC production, but to tell you the truth, I should have waited longer. I just cannot stop comparing the two, and when I try to think what to say in my review, I keep going back to how the program differred from the book.

Cranford is one of the books on my list for 2008. I've read Elizabeth Gaskell in the past, enjoyed her writing very much, and Cranford is no exception. Written and published in serial form between 1851 and 1853, Cranford is the tale of a small English town with an unusual predominance of women. Many of the chapters are self-contained stories, while other storylines take up several chapters. I found myself reading it a chapter at a time, and it occured to me that it was meant to be read in this way. The characters are lovely and charming, very much involved in their community and each other's lives. It's a fascinating portrait of life at this time, certainly it gives a real impression of everyday happenings.

Now that I've read the book and seen the program, I will say that I think the writers of the program did a really wonderful job adapting this. I know not everyone agrees with me. Of course, they used two of Gaskell's other works as well, and called the whole thing Cranford but I think it worked. The other novels by Gaskell provided the drama probably necessary in a television program. In many cases, stories that took up only one chapter in the novel were ongoing in the program and I think that provided some element of suspense.

The good news is that Masterpiece Theatre will be broadcasting Cranford in May, so everyone in the US will be able to see this fine program. I hope it is released on DVD because it's one I could watch over and over.

One more thing, I've been tagged by Melanie:

Here are the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you
post it to your blog, so I can come see.

From Cranford:

"But what was our surprise- our dismay- when we learnt that Mr and Mrs Hoggins were returning on the following Tuesday. Mrs Hoggins! Had she absolutely dropped her title, and so, in a spirit of bravado, cut the aristocracy to become a Hoggins!"

I will not tag anyone specifically, but please play along if you wish.

I'll be working all weekend, and readying the house for guests, so please forigve me if I haven't visited in a while, I'm trying to catch up.


LK said...

Tara, just wanted to say "hi" and let you know I got Hope's Edge (on your recommendation!) and have started to read. My, it's interesting (and eye-opening)!


Mrs of the Regiment said...

Hi Tara,

Oh, I am looking forward to the Cranford series being shown here in Australia. I have been following the comments on it on a number of English blogger's sites, and now you too have seen it - so jealous:)

Maybe I should get stuck into the book and just hope that the ABC shows it later in the year here.


lazy cow said...

It's such a wonderfully genteel book, isn't it? I wrote out so many witty passages to remind myself how lovely it was. Don't know if I could actually watch it on screen as I have my own ideas of what the characters look like!

Jill ONeill said...

Cranford is a favorite of mine, Tara. I am so looking forward to the broadcast of Cranford in this country that I actually allowed myself to download a clip of it from YouTube! I do think that Judy Dench is just perfect in the role of Miss Mattie.

Gentle Reader said...

I love Cranford, too. It is such a wonderful portrait of village life. I would love to see the Masterpiece Theatre version when it comes here to the US. I might go to YouTube and download (as Jill did in the comment above). Sounds like fun :)

Tara said...

Hi LK, I hope you find Hope's Edge a worthwhile read! I'd love to know your thoughts on it when you've read more or finished.

Pink Lady Bug, I hope you get it there soon - as the ladies below mentioned, there is always YouTube!

Lazy cow, absolutely! I will certainly remember all the characters and plan to revisit them.

Jill, I agree about Judy Dench - she's perfect! I cannot wait to rewatch it on a bigger screen.

Gentle Reader, I hope you like the film version!

Eva said...

You know, I really need to read some Elizabeth Gaskell. She's been popping up more and more in my life lately-I might have to do some kind of bookmooch search on her. :)

Have fun with your guests!

melanie said...

I'm adding it to my list - the book and the program!! Thanks.

Danielle said...

I heard the BBC production is really good--can't wait to see it. I bought a used copy of the book at one of my library sales. Usually I like reading the book first as otherwise I am constantly comparing, too.

Tara said...

Eva, I have also enjoyed Mary Barton and Wives and Daughters. She is very readable.

Melanie, I hope you enjoy both!

Danielle, that's what I should have done...Oh well. Lesson learned!

Gentle Reader said...

Tara--and Eva--just fyi, another great Gaskell novel is North and South--which they also made a good BBC movie out of a few years back.

Tara said...

Gentle Reader, yes! I loved the program, and again watched it before I read the book. I've made it about halfway through the novel. I find some of the passages difficult - the ones with the mill worker speaking - I just cannot read it at night when I'm tired so I keep putting it down.