The Joys of Cranford

Lately having a hankering for something homely here in Serbia, I was delighted to chance upon a copy of Cranford. It had been many a long year since I had partaken of the works of the venerable Mrs Gaskell – but having greatly enjoyed Mary Barton and Ruth in that distant past, I was quite certain that Cranford, perhaps her most celebrated novel, would answer perfectly to my particular literary craving. And I was not to be disappointed; the brief, but elegantly constructed, narrative, is characterised most exquisitely by a delicately balanced tension between Austenian social comedy and Dickensian sentiment that any connoisseur of Victorianna would have to be thoroughly charmed by. Anyone in possession of a substantial library who has been travelling for any length of time will understand how much more keenly one appreciates a fine piece of writing in your mother tongue that might happen to fall into your hands; back in England, Cranford had gathered dust on my shelf, unread, year after year – and I am more than happy to own how foolishly it had been neglected.

Perhaps, for my next journey abroad, I will reserve a place for North and South in my suitcase.

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