I am glad that Cranford was chosen as one of the two books for my June read-alongs. It was such a fun, lovely read that I am glad I got to share the experience with some of my readers, and my mom.
Those participating made their first posts two weeks ago and I think there was a general feeling of enjoyment on part of everyone who posted and commented. However, I did find that many of us felt that the book was a little scattered and it didn't seem to have an overarching plot in the beginning.
For me, the book definitely took off in the middle. The story seemed to pull together in a couple different ways. The focus shifted permanently back on to the character of Miss Matty. While there were some side stories, like that of "the panic," the novel was essentially about Miss Matty's role in this town, and how the people perceived her.
In fact, the whole book is about perceptions. The women all saw Lady Glenmire as this woman they needed to impress, but ultimately, she was just like them. The explosion of gossip after they found out she was engaged was hilarious!
"'What do you think, Miss Matty? What do you think? Lady Glenmire is to marry-is to be married, I mean-Lady Glenmire -Mr. Hoggins-Mr. Hoggins is going to marry Lady Glenmire!'
'Marry!' said we. 'Marry! Madness!'
'Marry!' said Miss Pole, with the decision that belonged to her character. 'I said Marry! as you do; and I also said, What a fool my lady is going to make of herself!'" (135).
They also give off the impression of wealth and grandeur, but some make their own party trays and refuse to buy new fashions. They all want to give off this image of something they really aren't. And the funny thing is, everyone KNOWS everything anyway! It is not as if they are really hiding anything!
That's why when Miss Matty goes bankrupt and it forced into making some hard decisions, the ladies of Cranford touched my heart. Miss Matty was a woman who worked hard to maintain an image and a standard that she believed in. She didn't want anyone to know her struggles, but all of the women chipped in to help her maintain the life she had.
"Every lady wrote down the sum she could give annually, signed the paper, and sealed it mysteriously. If their proposal was acceded to, my father was to be allowed to open the papers, under pledge of secresy," (162).
The good will and charity of the ladies towards one of their own melted my heart. While these women may gossip, they truly care about each other, and when one of their own needed aid, they chipped in.
I was also happy to see the return of Miss Matty's brother, Peter, and the reconciliation and hope that resulted from his return. It was the perfect ending to this delightful little novel and I cannot wait to see what else Gaskell has in store.
"Ever since that day there has been old friendly sociability in Cranford society; which I am thankful for, because of my dear Miss Matty's love of peace and kindliness. We all love Miss Matty, and I somehow think we are all of us better when she is near us," (187).
If you have your post up, please leave a link here so that I may update this post throughout the day to show everyone's posts! Come back to check, and to visit other participants to see their thoughts!