Clare Wille's performance of this gently satirical look at a genteel English village in the first half of the nineteenth century is excellent. Like a kinder version of E.F. Benson's Mapp v. Lucia novels, Gaskell's ladies of Cranford have their jealousies and their vanities. They also have moments of quiet tragedy (a lost brother, a suitor rejected to please the family but never forgotten) and of high drama. Wille made me laugh aloud at the pompous trumpeting of the late Reverend Jenkins. When Miss Poe comes in out of breath, you could swear Wille was running up stairs while delivering her lines. Her performance is always fully engaged, at one with the story, which is itself a small gem.
This charming piece of social observation throws a gentle spotlight on life in a small village in northern England of the 1850s. The middle-aged ladies, existing in rather impoverished circumstances, nevertheless maintain the rules of politeness which they feel they should live by. Read with great sensitivity by Clare Wille.
©1851 Public Domain; (P)2007 Naxos Rights International
Clare Wille's performance of Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford...may be the wittiest I've ever heard." (AudioFile Magazine)
This is a wonderful recording of a delightful book. Clare Wille has a gentle and sympathetic voice, and reads the text very expressively. Life in an English village populated by quirky but warm-hearted spinsters in the mid 19th century is lovingly brought to life. Lovely piano interludes between chapters help to create an atmosphere of quiet, cosy gentility - just what the Cranford ladies themselves would have liked!
I like to read and listen at the same time on some of these English novels because the hear pronunciations in a tongue more like they were used at the time of the writing.
Over the years I have read this story many times and I have also seen the PBS version with Judy Dench. It reminds me a little of the very small town I grew up in......everyone knew everyone.
I have just added this narrator (Clare Wille) to my list of personal favorites.
Listening to the story made it easier to follow along. I switched back and forth and both reading and listening had their merits, but this audio edition is at the very least equal to the print.
It is a bit like Winesburg, Ohio in that it's a series of interconnected stories that describe one town, but the tone is lighter, though the stories do cover some dark topics. It is also a bit like Lark Rise to Candleford.
Her tone matches the somewhat ironic, sometime sad but often funny voice of the narrator perfectly. Sometimes when reader perform Victorian novels they can drone, but Clare Wile kept the story interesting.
If I had the time, I could have easily listened to it all in one sitting.
This isn't a listen for someone looking for lots of drama or plot, but it is sweet, and evokes a time and place quite vividly.
I couldn't finish this one. I had technical difficulties and it finally got to the point that it wasn't worth the effort.
"A good listen, classic Gaskell!"
If you are purchasing this book because you enjoyed the BBC adaptation, you will very soon realise that the tv series was just that an adaptation in the losest terms. Do not despair, I read this book many years before it was broadcast and this narration is excellent and introduces each character with all their funny little ways. I've enjoyed listening over and over again. You will enjoy this book if you are a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell.
However, one slight criticism; each character could have been better interpreted using a better range of accents and mannerisms, If that is possible in an audio book.
"What a delight!"
I read 'Cranford' 40 years ago as a teenager and had forgotten, (or perhaps not realised) what a delightful, well-observed and amusing book this is - and what a wimp (by today's standards, anyway) Miss Mattie is!
Clare Wille is perfect as the narrator, both her style of reading and because she's the right age. Good though Judy Dench was on the TV, you know she's too old to be the narrator really.
All in all one of the best audio books I've had so far.
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