It is 1840 in a fictional town called Cranford and change is in the air. The Industrial Revolution is just around the corner and with it will come the railway. Life will never be the same again.
Elizabeth Gaskell's 1853 novel is a lively and affectionate portrait of a town in mid-Victorian England very like the one where she grew up. The novel centres on the lives of young Mary Smith and her friends in a place that seems to run on a heady mix of gossip and solidarity.
Gaskell draws on her own experience to present Cranford and its citizens in an amusing and satirical light. It looks as if they might need all their resources to deal with the transformation that is coming.