Cranford is a little town, a quiet village (I've been re-watching Disney's Beauty and the Beast lately) filled with quiet middle-aged ladies.
Although the ladies only appear quiet. They are in fact very busy, visiting one another, writing letters, worrying over the proper way to address a visiting, recently-widowed Scottish baronet's wife and whether it would be proper for more middle-class ladies to visit her.
Cranford is a series of reminisces from a young lady's visits to Cranford thinly disguised as a novel. Gaskell gives us a very good picture of the lives of upper-middle class/slightly shabby due to lack of money women in an era when gentlewomen frowned on work of any kind. It's a household novel, full of domestic details you won't find in an Austen, although still a novel of manners in many ways. Very sweet and a great introduction to Victorian literature.