After reading chapters nine and ten of Cranford, I must say, they have become my favorite installment of the series. Reading Cranford as the original installments is quite enjoyable because within each installment, there is a clear beginning and a clear end to the story, thus leaving the reader feeling satisfied and with closure. The characters and the setting however, keep moving into the next installments, with a few new faces, and different facets of Cranford are explored. As I read the last two installments, although they were short in nature, I feel like they started to drag on, and because of that I took more breaks in between pages, and I was easily distracted. This was simply not the case with chapters nine and ten. The only downside to reading this installment, was that I knew after chapter ten, there would be no more “magical shenanigans” and the story would most likely go back to a less exciting plot.
As I mentioned before, this has become my favorite installment. The other chapters do have their entertaining moments, but the idea of a “conjurer” in the Victorian era seemed much more amusing to read about than that of a captain (chapter 2) or a corrupt brother (chapter 6). The idea of a magician coming to town, or a conjurer as the book describes, was a great move because it livened up the story and fell away from the sort of stereotypes I feel are apart of Victorian literature. When I read, Victorian lit, I always seem to find romantic stories or the sort, and although they are enjoyable, they seem very repetitive. Chapters nine and ten broke out of that mold though, because Signor Brunoni was introduced. I enjoyed how the ladies all reacted differently to him, some with skepticism, and others with utter amazement. I also enjoyed the excitement of the robberies, and how Mrs. Forrester hires a young boy to keep watch of her house, and in doing so, gives him the instructions to attack any strange noises with a sword. I cannot see that ending well.
Lastly, this installment made me want to do a bit more searching and to read some other “mystery” type novels from that era. There is one novel that I have found, titled The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry, so I am excited to see if it is as absorbing as these last two chapters were. Reading the rest of Cranford, I hope that Gaskell explores other topics that I haven’t thought about in regards to the Victorian era. Who knows? Maybe a couple more chapters down the line, Gaskell will write more on The Conjurer or something just as exciting as chapters nine and ten.