Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell

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I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South and Wives & Daughters. I have to admit, Cranford left me nonplused. Gaskell wrote and published these episodes of life among spinsters and widows in an English town as a serial in a magazine, and they do not quite hold together enough to be read together as a short novel.
There is some insight, some light comedy (mostly in the beginning and the end when the waggish, good-natured men are about). I think the best I can say, however, is that I give Gaskell credit for taking a character like Miss Matty who would otherwise be sidelined and treating her with the depth and sensitivity usually reserved for a main character. It's a bit like if Austen had written Emma from the perspective of Miss Bates...