Possible World War I theme read for 2014

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Possible World War I theme read for 2014

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Sep 28, 2013, 12:59am

I've begun this thread in order not to highjack the Barbara Pym thread. If we don't find a particular author for a group read, I suggested a possible theme read. Since it is the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of WWI in 2014, I think that reading novels written about the war and its aftermath would make for some interesting discussions. Maybe we could choose six books, as opposed to twelve. Please comment on the idea and suggest titles if you like.

So far, these titles are suggested:

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
Not So Quiet by Helen Zeena Smith
Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
One of Ours by Willa Cather

Sep 28, 2013, 1:31am

Sep 28, 2013, 2:14am

Could I suggest;

The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold'
Scars upon my Heart by Catherine Reilly, (Poetry),
Virago book of Women and the Great War by Joyce Marlow (Anthology with Virago & Non-Virago authors).

Sep 28, 2013, 2:59am

Sounds like a very good idea. I wonder if there could be a side theme reading Viragos originally published between 1914 and 1918 - I have to admit I'm not good at trench descriptions etc if they come into it (though I'll happily read and weep over the Vera Brittain as my January or July re-read). Just a thought though.

Sep 28, 2013, 3:02am

I like the idea. I can't think of any books off the top of my head that haven't already been suggested.

Sep 28, 2013, 4:47am

Very happy with those suggested so far - and if we're keeping to say a two monthly read that would be even more manageable!!

Sep 28, 2013, 9:35am

I can't think of any books at the moment. Do they have to be Viragos or just Virago authors - in which case Pat Barker has 5 and even 6 books about WWI. (I say 6 because one of her contemporary ones has WW1 flashbacks). Plus I have had my copy of Testament of Youth waiting to be read since the tv series which came out, when? The 80s?

Sep 28, 2013, 9:42am

I've read Testament of Youth, and would not want to have to read it again. But I would be up for reading more books of and relating that era and from a female perspective.

Edited: Sep 28, 2013, 10:42am

Certainly Barker's Regeneration Trilogy should be considered. Why don't we set a deadline of Oct 10 for title suggestions. If we decide to go ahead, we can vote on the titles to be included. (I know someone on the boards knows how to set up a poll...)

Sep 28, 2013, 11:00am

I'm personally not so keen on the Pat Barkers - I think I would prefer something contemporary. And that's a good point about whether they can be Virago authors, because I would recommend Edith Wharton's Fighting France if we can have Virago authors published by other people!

Edited: Sep 28, 2013, 11:29am

Some other suggestions:

Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson

And some I have as ebooks but not sure of their availability as paper books:

Christine by Alice Cholmondeley (pseudonym of Elizabeth von Arnim)
Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belport by Edith Wharton

Sep 28, 2013, 11:14am

#10 Oops, cross-posted!

Sep 28, 2013, 11:21am

12 - :) Fighting France is available in a nice Hesperus edition which I have! Intrigued to hear about the von Arnim pseudonym - I don't know if I knew that!

Edited: Sep 28, 2013, 11:38am

#13 A biography I read said von Arnim was in England during WWI but had a daughter in Germany so wrote this book under a pseudonym to protect her daughter from any repercussions.

Another suggestion I just thought of is William - an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton which was the first Persephone book.

Sep 28, 2013, 12:12pm

14: Oooh, yes - that's a good one!

Edited: Sep 28, 2013, 3:20pm

For those of you who have read Testament of Youth, would you be interested in Chronicle of Youth: War Diary, 1913-1917 by Brittain and upon which 'Testament' was based?

"Vera Brittain's bestselling Testament of Youth was based on these copious diaries-which have far greater intimacy and immediacy. Written in London, Malta, and France, it captures all the war's horrors and Brittain's emergence as a committed pacifist. "One of the rare books which are a landmark for a whole generation."
~Times Literary Supplement.

Sep 28, 2013, 3:32pm

Sounds good Belva - I'm happy with either. I read Testament of Youth absolutely ages ago and can remember nothing about it so I'd be happy to read either that or the diaries!

Sep 28, 2013, 4:03pm

I bookmarked one of dovegreyreader's blog posts a while back: Women in War Reading List. This is not limited to the Great War, and I've not had the chance to cross-reference it with Viragos or Virago auhors, but thought I'd toss it out in case anyone spotted something they wanted to recommend.

Sep 28, 2013, 4:06pm

Ah! That's where I heard of the Wharton - thank you! I couldn't remember....

Sep 28, 2013, 4:08pm

I put WW1 into a search of my books and this is what I got:

My Dear I wanted to tell you by Louisa Young - not a Virago but a contemporary book and not too bad. An aspect of WW1 I hadn't thought of/didn't know about.

The Mighty and their Fall by Ivy Comptom Burnett - pre WW1 was the tag

The Brontes went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson - pre WW1 again

and the Willa Cather...

There's On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry which frankly I found a bit long-winded....not a Virago again but shortlisted for the Booker from memory.

I'd be up for the Pat Barker trilogy which for some reason I've never got round to reading.

Not to mention Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks - which I've always got half way through reading and then had to return.

Edited: Jan 2, 2014, 10:10pm

The 4 star reviews of Cariola & Donna828 were enough to talk me into Birdsong. As part of a trilogy, I am wondering if it can be read as a stand-alone with nothing missing.

Sep 29, 2013, 4:49am

I think we should limit ourselves to Viragoes/Persephones for the group read only because if we consider all of WWI literature how do we ignore Hemingway, All Quiet on the Western Front and many other great writers. There are so many Viragoes and Persephones that fit the catagory.

Possibly we could have a subcategory where members post their thoughts and reviews about nonVirago WWI books like Robert Graves Goodbye to All That, Birdsong, All Quiet on the Western Front, any number of memoirs etc.

Sep 29, 2013, 5:11am

Mrs Dalloway (a bit)
Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore

Edited: Sep 29, 2013, 5:17am

Not a Virago, but a book in print by a Virago author:

Non-Combatants and Others by Rose Macaulay.

and as Not So Quiet is, at least in part, inspired by All Quiet on the Western Front maybe they should - or could - be read back to back...?

Sep 29, 2013, 5:26am

Ooh Mrs Dalloway definitely - I really want to re-read that. OK, I'm in but I'm going to be "special" and pick and choose what I read and fit any re-reads like Mrs D and Testament into Jan and July when it's my months of re-reading. I've got to get a good push going on my Iris Murdoch research next year as I hope to be presenting at the IM Conference in the Autumn and I'll need to have some results and conclusions by then, so I'm not committing to anything except months of re-reading, but it will be good to honour WW1 with you lovely people in whatever way I can. Hope no one minds me going off-piste!

Sep 29, 2013, 6:20am

>21 rainpebble:: Belva, re Birdsong, As part of a trilogy, I am wondering if it can be read as a stand-alone with nothing missing ... absolutely. It's fantastic.

Edited: Sep 29, 2013, 11:57am

>26 lauralkeet::
Thank you Laura. I will be looking for that one.

>22 Liz1564: & all:
I am in agreement with staying within the Virago & Persephone publishing world for this theme read. It looks as if we would have plenty to choose from & I think more will roll in. I'm sure some have not even seen this thread yet. And considering the group that we are, I think it only right that we do limit ourselves to those books. Not that I don't love a LOT of others. But if we do not limit ourselves I think perchance we could end up reading the great masterpieces written on the Great War which would be wonderful, just not in this group.

Sep 29, 2013, 12:05pm

27> Maybe there's a middle road, sticking to Virago and Persephone until the last month and then having a free choice - or a list of possibilities - for a final book?

Sep 29, 2013, 12:10pm

#22 I like the idea of restricting the group reads to Viragoes/Persephones and then having a separate thread for discussion of non-Virago WWI books.

If there are enough people interested in reading a particular non-Virago group then perhaps they could start another thread for more in-depth discussion. Or does that make it too complicated?

Sep 29, 2013, 3:50pm

I think I'm in favour of Viragoes/Persephones only (though maybe squeezing it to include Virago authors?) with a free for all at the end and the last read being open to anything relevant?

Sep 29, 2013, 5:22pm

I think Vs and Ps too although I have to say I have read a lot of them already, because I love WW1 stuff.

Sep 30, 2013, 2:27am

I think sticking to P's and V's would be a good idea. I would nominate:

William, an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton
The Return of the soldier by Rebecca West
both of which I have read but would consider reading again as I thought they were excellent.

I would love to do Testament of youth as I've never read but have meant to for years.

from the lists above there looks to be some great possibilities. I like the sound of the Willa Cather novel One of Ours and the novel Not so quiet by Helen Zeena Smith and the Enid Bagnold might be interesting too. Lots to choose from how will we decide?

Sep 30, 2013, 4:55am

Ummm...I hope you don't mind but if you are interested in WW1 and want to get a feel for the times I recently blogged about a rather exciting discovery on my husband's side of the family tree. My sister-in-law recently found a stash of postcards in her mother's stuff which were addressed to her grandmother (then a young girl of about 15 or 16) from a soldier who was hitherto unknown to the family (he was about 29)....I don't think they were boyfriend and girlfriend...just friends...he may have worked for her father...we don't know. If you would just like to look at the pretty pictures - and they are very pretty...the post is here....I hope it's not too off topic..... and I apologise if it is. I contribute once a week to a lovely blog meme called Sepia Saturday...it's quite addictive...that particular week's meme was Peace....Peace out everyone ;)

Sep 30, 2013, 5:44am

I agree with all of Ali's suggestions and as that's 5 books, if we did say one every other month and then a free read for the last one that would fit perfectly!!!

Edited: Sep 30, 2013, 11:16am

I'm thinking now that with the books and authors Ali mentions we almost have monthly themes:

The start (Hamilton)
Soldiers (Cather)
Ambulance drivers (Smith and Bagnold)
Nurses (Brittain)
The consequences (West)

That's rough and not everything divides up neatly, but maybe a monthly theme and a suggested book or two would give us a structure and a little flexibility, for those who have read a book already or who are uncomfortable reading about certain aspects ... ?

Sep 30, 2013, 8:13am

>35 BeyondEdenRock:: oh, that's brilliant. First of all, that the nominations slot so neatly into those themes. Second, the idea of having a theme and a suggested book or two. For example, I loved the Brittain but probably wouldn't re-read. If there were other suggestions I'd just choose another book. If we go forward with this approach I could create a wiki page where people could suggest books that fit each theme. This might be an easier reference during the year than having to trawl through these threads.

I was planning to read the Smith this year but will gladly put it off for this year-long extravaganza. I'm so excited!!!

Also ... if the idea of a year-end free-for-all still appeals, we might do that in November tied to Remembrance Day. This would be in addition to the theme.

Sep 30, 2013, 11:02am

Sounds like a plan!


Sep 30, 2013, 11:13am

I'm late checking this thread, but the suggestions sound good so far. I'd definitely rather stick to Viragoes/Persephones, and cast another vote for We that were young, as it has been sitting on Mount Tbr for a long time now!

Sep 30, 2013, 2:53pm

Wonderful post cards Alex. I did our family tree a while ago and find the whole thing fascinating. But you have layered another element on top. A decade or two ago one of the British Sundays published love letters from the trenches and they were deeply touching. And sometimes hilarious - like the junior officer, on his first night out from England, who told his wife in his letter that he had just marched across the mud to the guns and told them to shut up because he couldn't sleep. Have you read A Fortunate Life? A great Australian WW1 book, yes?

Back to the list of possible reads. I like the themes that Fleur suggested. I did smile though because if you read the Smith and Bagnold books back to back the Bagnold is going to look even worse by comparison. I have since read two others by Bagnold and they were great but The Happy Foreigner is crap next to Not So Quiet. I am anxious that Testament of Youth stay on the list because I definitely need to read that. The only other one I haven't read is the Cather.

Sep 30, 2013, 4:09pm

Thank you romain for your kind comments. I laughed when I read about that junior officer. I read A Fortunate Life a hundred years ago when I was at Uni....probably worth reading again as I'm ashamed to say I have forgotten it all - other than it was a great book.

Happy to stick with Viragoes and Persephones - it gives me an excuse to buy more Persephones!

Sep 30, 2013, 7:41pm

>35 BeyondEdenRock: I love this idea too although I hope we can come up with something in addition to the Brittain for Nurses.

>32 Heaven-Ali: I'd love to read the Cather and Not So Quiet.

Edited: Sep 30, 2013, 8:06pm

Not So Quiet looks interesting. It's Australian, I read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow for AV/AA, and I just bought Exiles at Home (which looks like something of an Australian version of A Very Great Profession) to browse through. It'd be interesting to get some Australian work into a WW2 {edit: oops, WW1} read.

I read One of Ours quite some while back, and I don't think I'll reread it, but it is an important Cather since it was her Pulitzer. I agree, though, with the general consensus that the book takes an odd turn, splits in two plot-wise, about halfway through.

Oct 1, 2013, 5:02am

#35 & 36 I like those ideas too!

Edited: Oct 5, 2013, 4:20pm

I've just noticed this and love the idea, even though I've been terrible with keeping up with everything this year and have had times when I've barely had time to read, let alone concentrate on a group read.

I particularly like the idea of monthly themes, with a thread for a nominated Virago or Persephone (or two) and a thread for other books that fit the theme. Non-combatants and others has been near the top of my TBR list for ages, so will probably read that even though it's not a Virago.

I agree Testament of Youth should stay as it is a must-read (and a Virago though not a VMC) but I have already read it and it's a book that will stay with me forever so I will never need to read it again. Instead, for the nurses theme, I might read The War-workers by E.M Delafield which I downloaded free for Kindle at Girlebooks, but which may be more difficult to find in paper form.

I also see this as a possible excuse to buy two new and not yet published books: The Lie by Helen Dunmore and At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller.

Edited to add that I've realised The War-Workers isn't about nurses but it is still set in WWi so will fit in somewhere!

Oct 31, 2013, 11:19am

I realize that I missed the deadline, but I recently finished The Well of Loneliness and a significant chunk of it involves ambulance drivers in WWI.

Oct 31, 2013, 11:44am

I look forward to the final list. I am up for anything but the Regeneration trilogy, as I just finished those. I had planned on reading one WWI themed book per month next year anyway, and it might be fun to fit in books that are selected by this group.

Nov 2, 2013, 5:29pm

Have we got a final list then? I was going to put together a little blog post to promote this year long read- a-long there may be other people out there who would like to join us.

Nov 2, 2013, 6:01pm

I know i suggested this topic, but can someone else kind of pick up the ball, please. I'm having a spate of real life right now and don't think I can do it justice.


Edited: Nov 2, 2013, 6:55pm

Well, taking just the Virago and Persephone authors - and one Honno book, because its ethos is so similar - plus the categories further up the page gives me this:

The Beginning of the War (January and February)

Main Book: William an Englishman by Cecily Hamilton (Persephone)

Other possibilities:

Fighting: On the Frontline and on the Homefront (March and April)

Main Book: One of Ours by Willa Cather (Virago)

Other possibilities:

Aleta Day by Francis Marion Benyon (Virago)
The War Workers by E M Delafield (Project Gutenberg)

Dealing With The Human Cost: Nurses and others who cared(May and June)

Main Book: Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

Other possibilities:

The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker
Diary Without Dates by Enid Bagnold (Project Gutenberg)

Ambulance Drivers, Pacifists & Concientious Objectors (July & August)

Main Book: Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith (Virago)

Other possibilities:

The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold (Virago)
Eunice Fleet by Lily Tobias (Honno)
Non Combatants and Others by Rose Macaulay (Capuchin Classics)

The Consequences of War (September & October)

Main Book: The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (Virago)

Other possibilities:

Home Fires in France by Dorothy Canfield (Project Gutenberg)
Fighting France by Edith Wharton (Project Gutenberg)

Free Choice/Books you Missed (November & December)

I'm sure there are one or two more possibilities, but I can't bring them to mind at the moment.

Nov 2, 2013, 7:14pm

RH Mottram's The Spanish Farm is a possibility for a new category, of Civilian Life. It is set in France, main character Madeleine, written by an Englishman. Published in 1924, it was very popular, became Book 1 in a trilogy. It is a great read.

Nov 3, 2013, 4:40am

#49 fantastic thanks - what a great selection

I am currently reading At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller -(published by Virago) which would be great for a free choice book.

Another book which could be an alternative for the beginning of the war - The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman - which I believe won a pulitzer in 1963 as it is about the beginning of the war.

#50 The Spanish Farm could be a another suggestion for a free choice book - but there must be other ViMC titles if we could only think of them.

Nov 3, 2013, 4:42am

#48 don't worry Elaine - you are not under any obligation to *do* anything :) all the best to you.

Nov 3, 2013, 5:21am

49 - I like the list and perhaps the fluidity of having a main book for the two months and alternatives/extras if people want to read them instead of/as well?

Nov 3, 2013, 5:47am

There's another Rose Macaulay - 'What Not' that would be another alternative for fighting on the home front, and In The Mountains by Elizabeth Von Arnim would fit for the consequences of war. I don't think either are in print, but they are both on Project Gutenberg.

I was thinking that 'At The Break of Day' looked like another that would work for May/June - maybe when you've read it Ali, you can let us know. The same for My Dear I Wanted to Tell You and Birdsong, if we open things out to include a few readily available titles that aren't VMCs or Persephone books.

And I'm sure there will be more books published to coincide with the anniversary...

Nov 3, 2013, 6:29am

I created a page in our Group Wiki to list main selections and alternatives for each theme. I started with Jane's post #49.

The wiki page for the theme read is here, and it's also accessible from the Group Wiki main page.

It feels like the main selections are set, do others feel the same way? As for the "other possibilities" do we want this to be a finite list, or open to any/all nominations?

Nov 3, 2013, 6:35am

#55 yes i think the main selections are set - some great choices - but great also to have alternatives, I have read two of the main selections and can't decide whether to re-read hem or go for an alternative.

It would be good to have a final list Laura - that everyone could choose from - ie the main book or one of two or three alternatives. Other people might like to choose for themselves though.

Edited: Nov 3, 2013, 6:37am

Wonderful selections. I suggest we keep the "main book choices" as the formal group reads and " possibilities" as more fluid monthy theme reads.

Thanks so much, Fleur.


PS. Ali, nothing dire is happening besides a cracked clavical. Moving a stack of books, of course. Just lots of appointments and commitments.

Nov 3, 2013, 6:44am

#57 ouch - hope you heal quickly.

Nov 3, 2013, 7:50am

#49 & 55 Thank you Jane and Laura for the lists and the wiki page. I'm happy with the main selections too. I like the listing of other possibilities and the fact that we have 2 months for each book.

#57 I hope you recover soon Elaine.

Nov 3, 2013, 8:09am

#57 ouch, hope you feel better soon. Those pesky books (reminds me that I am convinced I will have Leonard Bast's fate ....)

Edited: Nov 3, 2013, 8:56am

>54 BeyondEdenRock:: added the Macaulay and von Arnim to the wiki. And thanks to Heather, the clever soul who turned each book into a link.

Which reminds me: the wiki can be edited by anyone. Don't worry if you find the syntax baffling -- just type stuff in, and someone else will beautify it later.

Nov 3, 2013, 9:49am

Have been watching and would love to join in as light relief from some of my other studies. I also like the main sections and will consider additional reads as the time draws near. Thank you everyone for making this happen - what a team. We are all so very fortunate to be part of this rather special group here on LT.

I am now off to peruse my shelves!

Nov 3, 2013, 10:43am

I've stared at bookshelves, and consulted A Very Great Profession, to find some alternative choices for the start of the war, and I've come up with:

Golden Miles by Kathleen Susannah Pritchard
Mr Britling Sees It Through by H G Wells (a Virago author and Nicola Beauman describes this as one of the finest novels to come out of WW1)
The Setons by O Douglas (not a Virago author but she's published by Grey Ladies and this one is on Project Gutenberg)

And now I'm going to try my hand at editing ....

Nov 3, 2013, 11:15am

Hi - Not a frequent contributor here, but this sounds like an intriguing project. Just wanted to mention a few more alternative options:

First two are public domain/available free, digitally in different locations -
A Hilltop on the Marne by Mildred Aldrich - letters from an American ex-pat dealing with the opening days of the war in France

Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front, 1914-1915 by Anonymous

Also, Thomas Keneally's recent release, The Daughters of Mars, is the story of two Australian sisters nursing on the Western Front.

Nov 3, 2013, 11:33am

#63 I love the sound of Mr Britling sees it through and Golden Miles - I may try and locate one or both for the first month as I have read William: an Englishman not that long ago. Thank you for those suggestions.

Nov 3, 2013, 4:11pm

I love the sounds of this and am already looking forward to it. I would second the addition of The Guns of August. I also like the alternatives as I have read some of the books in the past few years and do not want to reread them already.

Nov 3, 2013, 9:30pm

Thanks Laurelkeet and Heavenali for getting us organised , it's a great selection.

Nov 4, 2013, 3:20pm

I also just read William but would be happy to look at alternatives. Who wouldn't love a book called Mr Britling sees it through, even if it is written by the horrible HG? And I own Golden Miles. BKM - I also like Keneally. Just been away to check and the Wells is not in my library but the Keneally is. I'm sure I can get the Wells on interloan.

LB - I'm sure anyone of us could wind up dead under a bookcase :)

Nov 4, 2013, 8:45pm

68> Mr. Britling Sees It Through is available on Gutenberg and also as a Kindle freebie.

Edited: Nov 5, 2013, 4:19pm

Dear, dear Elaine; get better very soon. Sending healing thoughts your way along with my love & I will be praying for you.
And thank you for coming up with this Great War Theme for 2014. I am so looking forward to it.

As I am suffering a book buying moratorium and I can't seem to quite figure out Project Gutenberg, I found and downloaded the following to my Kindle free from Amazon.com:

Mr Britling Sees It Through,
The Setons,
The War Workers,
What Not A Prophetic Comedy,
Diary Without Dates,
Non-Combatants and Others,
Home Fires In France,
Fighting France and
In the Mountains.

That leaves me missing just The Guns of August, The Regeneration Trilogy and Eunice Fleet so I think I am well set come January.

Thank you everyone for all of your thoughts and input. I really enjoyed watching this come together with all the dialogue. A great team effort.

Nov 5, 2013, 5:36am

Thanks for mentioning the free Kindle editions Belva! I will have to check them out.

Nov 5, 2013, 4:05pm

I am still resisting a Kindle so will have to get a paper copy of the Wells.

Nov 7, 2013, 2:22pm

I am cleaning out my book cupboard because last week the bottom shelf collapsed under the weight of books and in the process of cleaning it out I found Fly Away Peter by David Malouf. It is in my TBR pile and purchased at a thrift store at some point but it is a) Australian and b) set in the trenches of WW1. It gets wonderful reviews but I have no clue if it is worth adding to the list. Anyone read it?

Nov 7, 2013, 3:08pm

~73 - no knowledge of that one at all.

However, I have an additional gem that I read back in 2009 Women In The War Zone by Anne Powell. There is a review in my written journal but looks like I never published it on LT.
It was a four star read for me and I would highly recommend it.

From the book page this description reflects the breadth of the book

'Incredible stories of British female doctors and nurses who served abroad during World War I include a nurse who survived a torpedo attack on a ship with serious injuries; caring for the wounded in Malta; nursing the casualties from the battles of Arras and Ypres; a radiologist who created a garden in France; and a VAD nurse in the hospital in Petrograd at the time of Rasputin’s murder. Extracts from letters and diaries provide a full picture of various first-hand experiences, and honor the often unsung contribution made by those who helped to alleviate suffering. Includes such names as Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland; Grace Ashley Smith; Edith Cavell; Vera Brittain; and Freya Stark.'

Nov 7, 2013, 3:53pm

I have finished At break of Day by Elizabeth Speller - a virago book jus published in hardback - the US title is The First of July. My review here - http://heavenali.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/at-break-of-day-elizabeth-speller-2013... I think it would be a good read for next year - maybe for the final month.

Edited: Nov 7, 2013, 6:26pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Nov 7, 2013, 6:29pm

Fly Away Peter is frequently set as a text for senior secondary students studying English Literature in Oz! Take that as a recommendation. I loved it, will definitely add it to my WW1 reading list.

Nov 7, 2013, 7:48pm

Okay Anne - I'll get cracking on it in the next few months as well. Thanks! And it's short! :) What era of the war does it cover, to give me some idea when to read it?

Nov 7, 2013, 10:53pm

>77 annejacinta:, 78:
I've just added Fly Away Peter to my 'free choice' months of November & December of 2014. I am really looking forward to this coming year's theme read.

Nov 8, 2013, 1:51pm

I think I will do a little blog post to promote our read-a-long as I think it will be so exciting I can't wait to start - surely other people will like the sound of it too. I suspect I may end up reading books most months as there are so many I really love the sound of. Unfortunately I don't own any of the ones I haven't read. So if the library can't help me - you know what that will mean? - yep clicky clicky in January - don't worry not buying books till New Year *polishes halo*

Nov 8, 2013, 2:44pm

Another possibility is Life Class and Toby's Room by Pat Barker - Pat Barker is a Virago author - alhough I think both of these are penguins.

Nov 8, 2013, 3:31pm

Yesterday I bought In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl. It appears to be a dual time period, historical novel set in 1970s Australia and in a hospital of women doctors in WWI France.

Currently 99p on kindle at Amazon.co.uk and reviews are favourable so I thought it worth a try.

Edited: Nov 8, 2013, 4:28pm

I've added The First of July (no touchstone yet) to my optional reading for next year and my library has it on order right now so by this time next year there shouldn't be any queue for it. I am really looking forward to this too.

Nov 8, 2013, 6:51pm

Just googled that book Bonnie and it also looks awfully good. I'll see if my library has it.

Nov 8, 2013, 6:53pm

Yep - they will have it by Dec 5 and no holds. So someone add that to the options list please.

Nov 8, 2013, 9:31pm

>85 romain:: Just did. I put it on the Nov/Dec list ("Free Choice") -- let me know if it belongs elsewhere.

I admit I'm not keeping up with adding the alternative selections ...

Nov 9, 2013, 1:37am

I'm going to stick with a re-read of Testament of Youth, probably in July, as I'm not good with trench stuff and I have the small matter of becoming LyzzyD instead of LyzzyBee next year, but I'll be cheering you all on and having a rest from my achievements reading every one of the Taylors last year, Pyms this year and Hardys on into next year!

Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 2:36am

There is a new and apparently well researched novel from Anita Shreve. Stella Bain recounts the story of a surgeon as he attempts to help a shell shocked women working on the battlefield in 1916. The novel tells the story as he tries to retrieve her identity and memories through a mix of talk therapy and emotional supportt.

More information here https://www.goodreads.com/interviews/show/902.Anita_Shreve?utm_medium=email&...

Edited to add that I *do* realise that Viragos and Persephones will be the order of the day - simply got a bit over excited as this period, in relation to the role of women, is one which interests me greatly.

PS Would some clever techie soul be able to tell me if we can mark the wiki link on, say, our home page so I don't have to keep searching for Laura's lovely link in this thread? Maybe I am just being lazy ......

Nov 9, 2013, 2:26am

LizzyBee - we salute you for all those wonderful and ongoing achievements and wish you well as 2014 dawns - and you become D as opposed to Bee ;)

Nov 9, 2013, 6:22am

>87 LyzzyBee:: on becoming LyzzyD, when is the big day? Do you plan to change your LT name?

>88 juliette07:: Would some clever techie soul be able to tell me if we can mark the wiki link on, say, our home page
There's a link to the group wiki on our group page. The group page can be found by clicking on "Virago Modern Classics" at the top of any thread. Once you're in the group wiki you are one click away from the theme read page. Does that help?

Nov 9, 2013, 6:32am

#88 "PS Would some clever techie soul be able to tell me if we can mark the wiki link on, say, our home page so I don't have to keep searching for Laura's lovely link in this thread?"

Julie, I'll try. Go the Homepage and click 'About you' on the left hand side. Scroll down the page and there is a section called 'Your Notepad' where you can add notes and links (I think where exactly this is on the page will vary from person to person). To move 'Your notepad' to your main homepage select the little greyed out plus icon to the right of 'Your notepad'

Let me try and grab some screenshots:

About you

Your notepad (the icon you click to add to your main homepage (or dashboard) is highlighted in yellow).

To add a link, click on the green button and enter the address of the wikipage in the url box (in yellow):

Clear as mud?

Nov 9, 2013, 8:57am

Thank you so much Laura - and of course I remembered that when you told me.

Heather - that was a really helpful piece of work as well as I had not really fully explored the new dashboard stuff. I also moved the notes bit so it is a bit more accessible - thank you ladies!

Nov 9, 2013, 1:22pm

I've just noticed that we lost Irene Rathbone along the way and added her to the list, and while I was there I separated out 'other possibilities' and 'reader recommendations', because with the number or books out there and the number that I am sure will be appearing next year I was worried that some of the 'little books' would get swamped.

Nov 9, 2013, 1:24pm

>091 OMG! I've been trying to figure this out for (literally) years! Thank you!

Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 3:16pm

>93 BeyondEdenRock::
Jane, We That Were Young, right?

How DID we do that? Of course it is going on my 'free months' reading list. Thank you so much.

Nov 9, 2013, 3:21pm

That's the one Belva. it's probably going to be my book for May and June because I've read Brittain, Bagnold and Barker already.

Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 3:31pm

>88 juliette07::

Julie, I think I have read all of Anita Shreve's work. There was a time when I was quite addicted to her, Anna Quindlen and one other that I cannot recall the name of at the moment. But I am going to pre-order this one for our 'free months' of reading. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. I believe when I checked, that it come out this coming Tuesday in hardcover edition. Paperback comes out May 27th so that is in time as well.
Have I told you lately that I love you? hee hee You are a ROCKSTAR!~!

Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 3:38pm

>87 LyzzyBee::
LyzzyBee; adding my congratulations to those of many others & wishing you a long life of happiness, love & laughter.
Congrats as well on sticking to your reading lists. I managed the Elizabeth Taylors nicely but fell down in the fall on Barbara Pym, I am afraid. I will try to finish them up spread out over 2014. I am proud of you and oh, so happy for you. ♥

Nov 9, 2013, 6:00pm

>91 souloftherose:: Heather, thanks for the tip! I had no idea the notepad even existed. How handy.

Nov 9, 2013, 9:35pm

Barbara, Fly Away Peter begins in Queensland, then the focus shifts to the fighting in the trenches.

Nov 10, 2013, 4:35am

87: Indeed Liz - congrats on the forthcoming event!!

Nov 10, 2013, 6:34am

Oopsie, sorry to hijack the thread! No, won't be changing any LyzzyBee things anywhere, as it's my username from years back on everything. Yes, we have chosen a day now but won't be telling people for a little while yet. I'll try to remember to say something on the Spring or Summer threads in the main sitting room when we do. And thank you everyone for your kind wishes!

Nov 10, 2013, 6:36am

>93 BeyondEdenRock:: Jane, I like the way you organized the book lists in the wiki. I agree the lists will grow as we all start reading. How do you distinguish "other possibilities" from "reader recommendations"?

Edited: Nov 10, 2013, 7:44am

My thinking was this, Laura:

"Other possibilities" are books written by Virago and Persephone authors, or authors who have been published by small presses with a similar ethos, like Honno and GreyLadies.

"Reader recommendations" can take in everything and anything else that might be of interest to Viragoites.

There are probable better descriptions than the ones I've used, but I couldn't think of any ...

Nov 10, 2013, 9:06am

Belva - I have listened to many Shreve's on audio. I was put off because she was an Oprah bookclub author and so many of O's picks are bummer books, but she is great. I will also be reading Stella Bain - thank you Julie.

Congrats Lyzzy!

I will be doing a lot of outside reading for this read-along as I have read many of the main selections. However, I agree that there WILL be a rush of new books next year.

Edited: Nov 10, 2013, 9:56am

~ 104 - I like the sound of that Jane and Laura. Speaking for myself I have quite a few 'off the Virago piste', so as to speak. Thank you for getting all the Wiki sorted and for organizing us x

~97 - Love you too Ms Belva x

Nov 10, 2013, 9:55am

>104 BeyondEdenRock:: perfect! That's actually how I was looking at it as well, but couldn't find the words and also wanted to be sure I understood your intent.

Nov 10, 2013, 11:58am

I have done a weenie post here:


Fortunately, I have several of the books already, but I have felt the need to send for H.G. Wells....... :)))

Nov 18, 2013, 2:46am

I broke down and ordered a used copy of Fly Away Peter and also sprung for In Falling Snow & Stella Bain on Kindle. Then I surprised myself by coming across The Virago Book of Women and the Great War on my non-fiction shelves. So I am all set to go with an average of 4 books to read per each 2 month segment. And I have The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 to read this December to get myself in the right frame of mind for our Theme Read. I am very excited to get underway with this reading plan.
Thank you Elaine for turning us on to this plan. I think we all are elated with these choices and especially this particular theme.

Nov 18, 2013, 8:06am

I indulged in a little bit of 2014 reading planning last week, going through the list of books and identifying the ones I most want to read -- one for each 2 month segment. Some I already own, and I picked up two in Kindle freebie editions (thanks for the tip, Belva). And I might just have to buy one or two VMCs next year to fill the gaps. :)

I was already excited about the theme and this exercise only served to build my enthusiasm.

Nov 18, 2013, 12:03pm

My trouble is I want to read most of the books on the list :/ and my TBR is already horrendous.

Mr Brittling Sees it Through arrived today - I know I said I wouldn't buy books but it's a nice 1930's hardback v good condition and contains a second novel too In the days of the comet so all ready for January - as I have already read William: an Englishman.

Nov 18, 2013, 6:38pm

I am also set for next year with one book to read every month if I really want to. I did manage to get a nice Virago copy of the Willa Cather book so happy dance!

Edited: Dec 3, 2013, 7:45am

Another heads up related to our theme but not directly Virago publishing related.

Next week I am going to do a week's study at Sarum College where Jane Gledhill is a visiting scholar. She has a research degree in Victorian Studies and a PhD in modernism and the poetry of TS Eliot.

She has taught a mixture of English Literature, Art history and Literature and Theology at the Universities of Keele, Bristol, Kent and Winchester through Sarum College. Her research interests are in women’s writing and the First World War, modernism, literature and theology and Christian spirituality.

Under her books published are included these two - none of which I know nut may be of interest to friends in our group.

Women's Writing on the First World War by Agnès Cardinal (Editor), Dorothy Goldman (Editor), Judith Hattaway (Editor)

Women Writers and the Great War (Twayne's Literature & Society) Dorothy Goldman, Jane Gledhill Judith Hattaway

Dec 6, 2013, 2:58am

News of an event in London hosted by WATCH (Women and The Church). SO sorry to all friends elsewhere!

I am hoping to go to this.


“An Evening with Kate Adie” to be held at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Monday 10 February at 7.00pm.

Her book "Fighting on the Home Front - the legacy of women in World War I" has just been published. It promises to be an enjoyable evening.

Dec 6, 2013, 7:07am

Edited: Dec 6, 2013, 7:18am

I have just discovered a very good collection of stories by female health workers during WWI compiled by Anne Powell. The title is Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War. It relates the experiences of the doctors, nurses and other health workers in the conflict from August 1914 in Belgium to Serbia at the time of the Armistice. There are also biographical notes.

Nightingales in the Mud by Marianne Barker is another work with a similar theme. It relates the accounts by the Australian Nurses working in the field hospitals during the conflict. They were only a small group but worked continuously at the front and in field hospitals during the war. According to Barker's research the nurses were the only Australian women allowed on active service.

Dec 7, 2013, 5:47am

The Anne Powell book is inspiring and at times quite gutsy - it was a brilliant read. In fact, I had added it to our Wiki page - thank you very much to whoever it was who then smartened it up and linked it :)

The Aussie one is new to me - thank you mrsp!

~sorry dear Laura ...

Dec 28, 2013, 5:08am

I have created a page on my blog to help me co-ordinate this challenge and the other one I am doing -


I'm looking forward to this very much - I may read more than 6 books.

Dec 29, 2013, 4:06am

Thanks Ali - indeed you are truly organised!

Dec 30, 2013, 12:46pm

Here is a women and WW1 link which may be of interest to UK Viragoites. I realise I am opening myself up to uproar from those across the oceans!!

Women and the Church (WATCH) invites you to listen to the journalist and campaigner Kate Adie, who is generously giving her time to talk about the contribution of Christian women in the First World War. This features in her new book "Fighting on the Home Front - the legacy of women in World War I", written to commemorate the start of the First World War in 1914.


Dec 30, 2013, 8:29pm

I ordered the H G Wells on interloan today.

Jan 15, 2014, 1:06pm

I've just re-read Winifred Holtby's The Crowded Street which I'd completely forgotten is about World War I. And it definitely fits into our VMC/Persephone thing. I'm not sure where it could/should be added to our reading year, but perhaps someone wants to incorporate it into their project.

Jan 15, 2014, 2:34pm

I'm doing it this month in my month of re-reading, although that has gone sadly wrong as I've had too much Other Stuff to deal with recently!

Jan 16, 2014, 9:03pm

Well yes! That is exactly what occurs when one replies yes to the 'big question' LyzzyBee. Take time to breathe and enjoy this crazy time in your life. ♥

Jan 16, 2014, 9:32pm

For anyone in London: 7pm, Friday 17 January 2014, London: Award-winning author Adam Hochschild will be speaking about his history of the First World War To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914 - 1918 – the only recent history of the conflict to foreground the anti-war movement in London on Friday 17 January.

Edited: Jan 20, 2014, 7:42am

That sounds really interesting, though I probably wouldn't have made it even if I'd seen the thread beforehand. I've just placed a library reservation for the book.

Jan 20, 2014, 7:45am

That does sound like a interesting one - good that someone is writing about that angle.

Jan 20, 2014, 9:02am

To End All Wars is a really fascinating book. Having read it, I am responding in a very different way to William, An Englishman than I might have otherwise.