is more a series of recollections and trains-of-thoughts than a properly structured novel, and yet I couldn't ask for a more satisfying story. Mary Smith's visits to the village of Cranford, which "[i]n the first place, is in possession of the Amazon...", are full of affection and rife with detail of how genteel women of modest means lived in the mid-19th century and, by extension, gives a lot of insight into how people behave, which is as relevant today as it was 150 odd years ago.
I especially enjoyed the digression about favorite economies, how Mary Smith says she is endlessly saving and hoarding string, even pieces which can't possibly have a use. We all have something, and reading that part aloud to my husband made us both immediately launch into each other's foibles, and consequently those of our family and acquaintances. All in all a profitable evening.
There is no doubt in my mind that the characters of Cranford were largely drawn from life, the turns of phrase, the way the ladies behaved, the topics of discussion, with some alterations this could be about the regular meetings of my own small village. A fantastic achievement. I'll be back for more.
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From: The Cranford Chronicles