After having given up entirely on Elizabeth Gaskell’s works (I know, I know, many of you LOVE her but I just don’t), I decided to give Cranford a watch and see if I might be able to reverse my opinion and make myself read something like Wives and Daughters.

Cranford is a melange of 3 of Ms. Gaskell’s works all set in a small English town, dealing with the moderately wealthy but genteel class. The characters all had interesting depth.  The cast is superb and do a tremendous job and it has one of my most favorite actresses, Judi Dench, playing a prominent role. It is a miniseries, so not really watchable in an evening. THe costuming, setting and so forth were excellent. And yet…

I really didn’t like it. Sigh. It must be as relatively faithful to Gaskell’s works because I just couldn’t get into it.  I felt like sinking into the film and running around pointing an accusatory finger and yelling “Drama Queen!!!!!!” That’s just it. Why I hate Gaskell, why I hate Dickens, why I hate Hawthorne. Drama queens all around. The social commentary is too heavy-handed, and in Gaskell’s case, very nearly non-sensical.  For example, Cranford plays a good cop/bad cop plot line between two sisters, one who is caught up in social strictures to a fault and the other unable to determine how even to eat an orange without the other sister’s permission.  Enter their young maid, low-class and immoral, but somehow that works out happily in the end. She manages to get married to the man she gave the milk away to for free… and miraculously never got pregnant until they wed. Contrast that story with the poor middle-class young, single doctor who comes to town and is ruined by gossiping conjecture by several busy-body, “gentle-women” who say that he sent a valentine card or bought a sewing table… oh the horror. By all means, kick him out. His medical career is over.

I wouldn’t say that I hated it enough to wish those 5 hours of my life back or to be embittered that I could never get that time back.