The Classics Club: Cranford


I’ve long wanted to read something by Elizabeth Gaskell after hearing such wonderful things about her novels. I finally got the push I needed when I picked up this lovely collected edition, The Cranford Chronicles, from a local charity bookshop; I decided to start with the eponymous Cranford tale first.

We are introduced to the small rural town of Cranford by a young woman (we find out her name later), who regularly comes to stay with friends in the town. Through her eyes we come to see the day-to-day lives, trials, tribulations and joys of the town’s inhabitants; who are mainly widows and spinsters. They live quiet lives of genteel poverty where traditional standards and customs are upheld, and money is never discussed. Little happens to ruffle their lives except the passing of a friend, new people moving into town, or friends being lured away into marriage by those pesky men.

As you may imagine this is not a story full of action or drama, instead it is a touching and meticulous study of the lives of women in a small town in Victorian England. What really makes this story is the characters. Our young narrator comes to stay most often with the upright Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her tender-hearted sister Miss Matty; the spinster daughters of the late reverend. Their friends include Miss Pole, Mrs Jamieson, Mrs Forrester and Lady Glenmire. The few men who do come to live in Cranford cause gossip and commotion with their mere presence: the loud Captain Brown and Dr Hoggins with his audacious proposal. Yet for all the women’s airs and graces there is some true friendship too.

I think this novella was a lovely introduction to Gaskell’s work for me. It didn’t necessarily feel like a novella but more like a short story collection – as we had short snapshots into the characters lives, as and when our young narrator came to stay or received letters. I enjoyed how this helped me to dip in and out of the story as if I too were coming to visit. I found Gaskell’s style detailed and meticulous – perhaps not as gripping or dramatic as some of her contemporaries – but comforting and personable. I really felt I got to know the town and characters. I joined them in the trivia of their lives, the pain of their losses, their joys and the often silly customs and fronts they uphold.

I found Cranford to be a charming and comforting classic. I looking to reading the rest of The Cranford Chronicles which includes: My Lady Ludlow and Mr Harrison’s Confession. I would also love to see the BBC’s 2007 TV adaptation. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you seen the TV adaptation?

The Classics Club – 41/50
The Women’s Classic Literature Event – #4

Adaptations: April 2016


Hello my fellow bookworms, adaptation lovers and any of those dropping over from the Book to Movie challenge; here are the adaptations I’ve watched recently:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Not Read     Film     Cinema

A gritty, action-packed, superhero bonanza; featuring characters from the DC comics. Gotham’s dark vigilante Batman and Metropolis’ indestructible Superman meet for one almighty clash. Spectacular effects, epic fights, leads into the Justice League and Ben Affleck was much better than I feared. I’ve heard negative reviews but I thought it just worked and for me it was a … Great watch.

 The Frankenstein Chronicles (2015)
Read     TV Series     Television

ITV Encore’s thrilling new series that re-imagines the Frankenstein myth (Mary Shelley) on the streets of 19th century London. The discovery of a mutilated child’s body leads Inspector John Marlott (Sean Bean) into a terrifying case of missing children, body snatching and Galvanism. A gritty and gripping series, with a great ensemble cast, but a shocking and frustrating ending! Great watch.

Little Women (1949)
Read     Film     Television

Classic Hollywood adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s charming novel about the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, as they grow up during the American Civil War. A sweet, amusing and romantic film with some really lovely casting, although you do have to excuse Beth appearing to be the youngest and Amy being played by an older Elizabeth Taylor. Good watch.

Shakespeare Live! From the RSC (2016)
Read & Not Read     Variety Performance     Television

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, the BBC broadcast a live variety performance from the RSC (Stratford). Presenters, Catherine Tate and David Tennant, were joined by a host of actors, singers, musicians, dancers, comedians and famous faces to bring classic scenes from his many works into new life. Good watch.

I also re-watched the amazing Jurassic World (2015) and Spider-Man (2002) (the latter in preparation for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War); which brings my total up to 5 adaptations. This month also sees the release of the new live-action The Jungle Book (2016) and the long-awaited 6th series of Game of Thrones! Both of which I am excited to watch.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching recently?

The Classics Club: Monthly Meme #40

The Classics Club

Each month The Classics Club releases a question to get club members thinking, discussing and sharing; either on the official site or their own. This month’s question is a new one contributed by club member, Joseph @ The Once Lost Wanderer (who joined in May 2014):

“What is your most ‘treasured’ book…not the story…the physical book? Maybe a valuable first or early edition, or an autographed copy, or a family heirloom, or a gift, or maybe just the favorite binding or cover art.”

This one is easy for me, my most treasured book has to be this 1979 Unwin paperback copy of the fantasy, children’s classic The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien:

Friday Face-Off #2

This battered and well-loved 1979 Unwin copy of The Hobbit, illustrated with ‘Conversation with Smaug’ by J R R Tolkien, is the copy my father has owned since he was a child. It has, probably not the most attractive, brown background, creases, bent corners and yellowed pages but I love it! While I own a newer, shinier and golden, hardback edition of The Hobbit, it is this old copy I find myself turning to time and time again. Most of the appeal of this copy is the fond memories I have of my father reading this to me, a chapter a night, when I was about 5 or 6 years old. And for that reason this old 1979 Unwin copy will always have a place in my heart and home.

What is your most treasured book?

New Books: April 2016

New Books - April #1

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s the goodies I’ve managed to add to my bookshelf and Kindle recently:

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

The lovely, wonderful, amazing, book blogging friend Lynn really kindly sent me her copy of Jane Steele because she thought I’d love it – I am super excited to read this.

Glorious Apollo by E Barrington

Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole

I received these 2 historical fictions from Endeavour Press; the first through their newsletter and the second off Netgalley. Glorious Apollo is about the notorious poet Byron while Eleanor of Aquitaine is the future wife of Henry V and Queen of England. I have not read anything by either author but both books sound interesting.

New Books - April #3

Indiana Belle by John A Heldt
(American Journey #3)

Resthaven by Erik Therme

I was kindly contacted and offered copies of young adult, thriller Resthaven and historical fiction Indiana Belle by their authors. Erik Therme is a new author for me while I have previously enjoyed The Mine (Northwest Passage #1) by John A Heldt.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

I am always on the look out for new-to-me books by Daphne du Maurier and Terry Pratchett. On my last trawl through my two favourite charity bookshops I struck gold: with Lords and Ladies from Pratchett’s hilarious epic Discworld series and du Maurier’s modern classic My Cousin Rachel.

New Books - April #2

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams

On the same visit to my favourite charity bookshops, I also spotted these lovely copies of fantasy The Lies of Locke Lamora and young adult, fantasy Tunnels. I previously read both but lost my copies! I am looking forward to rediscovery these gems and continuing the series.

The Indian Fairy Book edited by Cornelius Mathews

Stories of King Arthur and His Knights edited by Sir Thomas Malory

30 Days of Daal by Pragati Bidkar

Then finally but not least, I picked up, from Amazon, these two short story collections and Indian cookbook free!

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Funny Books

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is:

Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh (or at least chuckle)’

Creating this week’s top 10 has made me realise what an eclectic selection of books I have read, that have cheered me up, made me chuckle and some have even made me laugh out loud.

~ 1 ~

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Dull and regulated Arthur Dent is thrust into a colourful, raucous and hilarious adventure through space; after the destruction of Earth to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. I highly recommend this classic, science-fiction, laugh-out-loud delight.

(This was so funny for my dad as a teenager he was banned from reading it in his school common room because he was laughing too loud!)

~ 2 ~

Emma by Jane Austen

I think all of Austen’s novels contain wonderful wit which helps to make her work so timeless and universal. I have picked Emma because I couldn’t help chuckling at her delusional, hapless but well-meant matchmaking throughout the book.

~ 3 ~

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Young Flora Poste comes to live with her distant relatives at the isolated Cold Comfort Farm, and turns their world upside down with her cheery and persistent outlook. Gibbons wrote this as a parody to the romanticised, doom-laden accounts of rural life popular at the time.

~ 4 ~

The Killing Joke by Anthony Horowitz

Guy Fletcher, an actor, overhears a joke…and wonders where do jokes come from? Which leads to a crazy mission, with multiple paths, dead ends and stereotypical joke characters. It is literally a joke from start to finish.

~ 5 ~

The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn

A new, younger head teacher in red high heels breezes into the school to shake things up and hopefully save it from closure. Perhaps not the humour for everyone, however working in a school myself I know exactly what funny things children can say or do!

~ 6 ~

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

A collaboration of two well-loved fantasy authors, that sees the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, so comfortable in their current lives on Earth, coming together to try to stop the coming of the End Times. A quirky dark comedy.

~ 7 ~

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

I could have pick any of Pratchett’s fantastical Discworld series that I’ve read and I know many of you will have your own favourites – however mine has to be this madcap and hilarious take on Macbeth; it always has me chuckling.

~ 8 ~

Harry Potter by J K Rowling

Slightly cheating but I couldn’t pick one book from this series as the humour continues throughout. When there are wonderful characters like Ron Weasley, Luna Lovegood and Professor Slughorn, even in the dark times, there is bound to still be some laughs.

~ 9 ~

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins is swept away from his comfortable hobbit hole on an adventure to retrieve a home and treasure from a deadly dragon. The humour in this charming fantasy adventure comes from the mischievous and dry witted wizard, Gandalf. I particularly love when he tricks Bilbo into inviting him and the dwarves for tea.

~ 10 ~

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

A raucous Victorian tale of society, love, identity and who is Ernest?! This is funny enough to read however after taking part in a play reading I have no idea how actors in the play keep a straight face!

Have you read any of these? What books make you smile, chuckle, laugh, giggle or even laugh out loud?

New Read: Girl Meets Change

Girl Meets Change

As a practicing Christian I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and to hear what other Christians have to say. I can also be a major worrier particularly about change so Christian non-fiction Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong seemed like a perfect read for me.

Kristen Strong knows all about change, being a military wife, she has had to deal with her husband’s deployments and she has had to move herself, children and home around the country to different military bases; leaving houses, schools, jobs, friends and churches behind for all new ones. But change does not come easily for her! She has made mistakes, worried, panicked and dreaded the changes that have come her way. Yet along the way she has gained knowledge, experienced that change can be good too, and discovered that her family, love and God is all she really needs; wherever she is.

In this book Strong shares with us her experiences, what she has learned and advice on how to deal with change ourselves. Sharing candidly her own touching life stories and her feelings during them, as well as some poignant and appropriate stories of her friends, family and other military wives. This is all written in a detailed, inspiring and down-to-earth way; like a friend giving you advice. And throughout Strong kept God, prayer and his word running through the stories, through how she dealt with change, and in her advice to us. Offering scripture, events from Jesus’, Esther’s and Joseph’s life and prayers that helped her and could help us too.

Girl Meets Change offers good, practical advice about how a Christian woman can face change – it certainly got me thinking and feeling a little more confident about dealing with change myself. I haven’t read anything by Kristen Strong before however I would definitely be interested in reading more. Good read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or anything else about change?

New Read: Broken Banners

Broken Banners

After reading the engaging fantasy novella A Reaper of Stone by Mark Gelineau and Joe King in February, I was eager to read more. So much so I picked up book 2, Broken Banners, only a month later in March. (This post may contain spoilers for the previous book).

This book continues the story of Elinor, the King’s Reaper, and her loyal friend and royal engineer Conbert. After the bloody reaping at Last Dawn Keep, Elinor is now in disgrace and no knight will follow her. With a small ragtag assortment of loyal engineers and workmen, Elinor travels across the wilds to Heights Ward Keep. Under orders to merge with the Ninety-Fifth Pioneers, led by Janen Aldis. Only instead they come across the grim sight of the massacred bodies of the men and women of Ninety-Fifth Pioneers; seemingly cut down from behind as they fled the very keep they were meant to be reaping.

I thoroughly enjoyed reuniting with the strong, brave Elinor and the fair, noble Conbert. Since abandoning their orders and following Elinor’s instincts at Last Dawn, they have lost their position, power and many men. However Elinor seems to have gained a new power after her encounter with this world’s old magic. The new element to this story is Janen Aldis. The leader of the Ninety-Fifth Pioneers and Elinor’s old Academy friend; although we soon discover why Conbert doesn’t remember him fondly. Janen is strong, charming, ambitious and willing to do anything to achieve his goal. Even so I kind of liked him – he is a likeable rogue who Elinor and me hope can be redeemed!

I was again seriously impressed by how Gelineau and King managed to give the story that epic fantasy feel; with a well-built world and magic system that had a sense of age to it, and good character description and development. This book felt a little shorter and less detailed than The Reaper of Stone, however it was another engaging and highly readable novella. Gelineau and King came together to write this set of series, Echo of the Ascended, in homage to all the classic epic fantasy tales and great heroes of their childhood – of which Broken Banners is just part of 1 or 3 series set in the kingdom of Aedaron. While there are currently no more instalments in Elinor and Conbert’s story I do have other Echo of the Ascended novellas waiting on my Kindle for me.

Broken Banners was another quick and engaging fantasy novella, which I finished in just 2 to 3 short sittings. I hope very soon to read Best Left in the Shadows next. Good read.

Thank you to the authors for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any of Gelineau and King’s other fantasy novellas?

Once Upon a Time X – #2