Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell
(our antique copy)
Madeleine tried the novel (twice) but it's slow and though she loves other classic literature, it's just not quite her speed. I however, loved the book. It's sweet and funny and sad, and just a lovely "escape" from the 21st century. It's a series of stories that follow the inhabitants of a quaint little town called "Cranford". Most of the main characters are older spinster ladies concerned with lace and bonnets, their pet dogs and all sorts of gossip. I consider it good Victorian "fluff" reading.
I love the part where dear Miss Matty relates her fear of getting into bed at night:
She owned that, ever since she had been a girl, she had dreaded being caught by her last leg, just as she was getting into bed, by someone concealed under it. She said, when she was younger and more active, she used to take a flying leap from a distance, and so bring both her legs up safely into bed at once; but that this had always annoyed Deborah, who piqued herself upon getting into bed gracefully, and she had given it up in consequence. But now the old terror would often come over her, especially since Miss Pole's house had been attacked (we had got quite to believe in the fact of the attack having taken place), and yet it was very unpleasant to think of looking under a bed, and seeing a man concealed, with a great, fierce face staring out at you; so she had bethought herself of something- perhaps I had noticed that she had told Martha to buy her a penny ball, such a s children play with- and now she rolled this ball under the bed every night; if it came out on the other side, well and good; if not she always took care to have her hand on the bell-rope, and meant to call out John and Harry, just as if she expected men-servants to answer her ring.