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.
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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.
Clare Wille's performance of Mrs. Gaskell's
Cranford...may be the wittiest I've ever heard." (
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