Which Virago Are you Reading? Part XVIII
This is a continuation of the topic Which Virago Are you Reading? Part XVII.
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Continuing from Part XVII, which was getting to be an awfully slow load.
Now reading The Rising Tide only 65pages in but very much enjoying it so far.
I have just finished E. M. Delafield's "Provincial Lady" series, via the Virago omnibus (which should have been titled "The Diaries Of A Provincial Lady", surely?) - delightful!
I am now rereading Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is a bit melo-dramatic but I like Gaskell's books about
working class people in Brittain. It is rare that someone of her time and social class would delve into the area of the
suffering of poor people. It is a good antidote to Jane Austen and her portrayal of upper class people whose worst worry
is having to live with only one servant. Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion etc.
My review of The Rising Tide is on my blog, and someone commented that their grandfather knew Molly Keane!
I'm continuing to read Mary Barton but I think that I spoke too soon in terms of its appeal. The melodrama is heightening
and the plot has become too far-fetched. However I intend to finish it as I hate to begin a book without completing it
unless it is one that I hate. I haven't read any of Gaskell's more popular and well-known works but I have the videos
and really like them and intend to read the books.
I've just started The matriarch, although it's not a Virago edition.
I just finished Love by Elizabeth von Arnim. It is another of my rereads. As with some of my other rereads, I liked this one better the second time. Its topic is interesting. A love affair between an older woman and a young man. The age difference is an important part of the book's theme as it shows the uneven attitudes that society has in more easily accepting the situation if the man is the older party.
Since I know most of you are Persephone and Bloomsbury readers too I thought someone here might be able to answer this question;
I have one of the editions of D. E. Stevenson's "Mrs Tim" books that merges Mrs Tim Of The Regiment and Golden Days. There's no indication of where these works originally began and ended. My best guess is that the part of the journal covering January to May was Mrs Tim Of The Regiment, while the single long June section was Golden Days - does anyone know for certain?
>10 lyzard: I have the recent Bloomsbury ebook of Mrs Tim of the Regiment which contains the following author's note (I think dating from the 1970s):
'The four books about Mrs. Tim and her family were republished during 1973 and early 1974, and the author was asked to write a forward.
The books consist of:
1. Mrs Tim of the Regiment
2. Mrs Tim Carries On
3. Mrs Tim Gets a Job
4. Mrs Tim Flies Home'
Then she goes on to describe the process of writing the first book and says:
'The result was Mrs Tim of the Regiment. By this time I had got into the swing of the story and had become so interested in Hester that I gave her a holiday in the Scottish Highlands with her friend Mrs. Loudon and called it Golden Days.
The two books were accepted by a publisher and published in one omnibus volume.'
My edition of Mrs Tim of the Regiment contains the Scottish holiday as well as the earlier sections although there's no mention anywhere in the book that this was previously published as Golden Days. I expect a lot of the books listed as Mrs Tim of the Regiment on LT do contain both books. I expect it's probably not going to be possible to separate the correct editions out.
This has reminded me that a Mrs Tim book might be just the thing at the moment so I've reserved Mrs Tim Carries On from the library.
Well, that contradicts the acknowledgement in the front of my library edition, which states that, "Some years ago D. E. Stevenson wrote two stories about the same delightful character---Mrs Tim. These were published under the titles Mrs Tim Of The Regiment and Golden Days by Jonathan Cape and Herbert Jenkins respectively, whose kindness in releasing their rights we now gladly acknowledge."
And then there is a note indicating the melding of the two first happened in 1941.
The point about the two different publishers is interesting - perhaps the publishing pattern was different in different countries / territories, and that's why we're getting different accounts of it?
There is a clear break in the narrative, and what you report about Stevenson giving Hester a holiday supports my first impression of where the two works were joined.
Anyhoo---that's probably enough out of my OCD. Thanks! :)
I've just read a new novel published by Virago. Circling the Sun is, like The Paris Wife, a biographical novel, told as a first person narrative. This one is about Beryl Markham as a child and as a fairly young woman, as at the end of the story told in the book, she's only in her late 20s. Her book West With the Night was also published by Virago, and it makes me all the more interested to read it.
I loved West With the Night, Splendid Outcast: Beryl Markham's African Stories by Markham and also really liked The Paris Wife. I hope you love this one too, elkie.
I just finished the wonderful Their Eyes Were Watching God, a reread by Zora Neale Hurston. It was just as marvelous the second time round.
I am re-reading Miles Franklin's My Career goes Bung and enjoying it enormously. Off to bed in a while to finish it.
Thanks to CDVicarage, I'm reading The Fountain Overflows and loving it. It is just the right book at just the right time.
I just finished the wonderful Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I can't believe I never read it before.
My most recent Virago was High Rising by Angela Thirkell, which I adored. For some reason I arbitrarily decided not to read more than one book by any author this year, but I can't wait to read more of her come January!
I'm in the middle of a review book but I'm thinking I must read The Return of the Soldier soon...
It is difficult, but it's making me pick up some of the books which have been languishing on my shelves for a while. Sometimes it's good to read differently for a change!
Clair, I read this for the first time when I was in Jr. High. I felt very naughty and hid the book when I wasn't reading. There was a television series of Peyton Place on at the same time and my Pops was a faithful viewer while at the same time calling it drivel and forbidding my reading of the book.
Were you aware that Metalious was only 39 when she died of cirrhosis of the liver? So young.
And I quite agree with you that she did know how to set the scene. I'm glad we are enjoying it together.
>26 rainpebble: I read part of the introduction in my copy which told about Metalious' life and her tragically early death. I really appreciated that the author of the introduction then warned us that she was about to discuss the plot and to stop reading if we didn't want spoilers. I did, so it is all new to me. So far I am more disgusted by the men's behaviour than the women's although it seems that original readers reacted in reverse. It is definitely a book that grabs you, draws you in and won't let go.
There's Something About a Convent Girl. Someone mentioned it (I think here on VMC). Not bad so far, but the problem is that each essay is too short, which leads to superficiality despite the "big name" quality of the contributors.
>29 CurrerBell: I don't know who else has read it, but in my experience Belva read it first, and then I did, Mike. I enjoyed it for what it is, and you're right - that's pretty superficial.
I've just started The Other Woman by Colette as part of The 1924 Club - such a wonderful writer!
Hi, all - just to let you know that Heather, Laura and I will be tackling Fanny Burney's Cecilia next month for our "Virago Chronological Read Project" - anyone who would care to join us would be very welcome! :)
I'm reading The Rector's Daughter by F M Mayor for the 1924 club that Karen and Simon are hosting.
Still looking forward to getting into Zoe: The History of Two Lives (Way to make the Touchstone work!) for the last half of the month!
I'm thoroughly enjoying Aurora Floyd by Mary Elizabeth Braddon and looking forward to discovering her dark secret, whatever it may be.
Over the weekend, I finished The Perpetual Curate and loved it. There are two more books in this series and I am now at the point of savoring them, because I will be sad when there are no more to read.
Secret Santa registration is still underway -- you have until October 25 to sign up!
Visit the Virago Secret Santa thread for details.
I don't even remember when I started it, but I've finally read and loved Emily Hahn's China to Me, Virago Traveller (my copy doesn't include "Beacon") #8 for me. This is one of the good ones! Hahn is in China from 1935 through the Japanese occupation until she is repatriated in 1944. I know that Katherine read and loved it too because she wrote a very good review on the book page.
Needing something light I've started Angela Thirkell's Summer Half. I think it's going to do the trick.
I've started to read a few books lately which have not lived up to my expectations. The latest was The Complete Claudine by Colette. I felt that the writing seemed childish and rather boring. I read a bit of biographical material about Colette and her life was certainly unorthox. Has anyone else had a different experience with her work? Her books are highly thought of and so I wonder if I'm missing something.
To be honest, I wouldn't say that the Claudine books are typical of Colette. They were written at the instigation of, and then titillated up by, her then husband Willy for a specific market. Although they have a certain charm, her later work is for me much stronger. I've just revisited some of her short stories and they're superb. The first book of hers I read was a later one, Break of Day, and it's got even better with re-readings. So I would say don't necessarily judge her on these works alone.... 😀
>47 Sakerfalcon: The autobiographical works are wonderful, aren't they? And her short stories are fab!
I am still reading Zoe: The History of Two Lives and still liking it, but not as much as I did at first. I do find it interesting on several levels, so it's not like it's drudgery at all!
I just finished The crowded street which was an excellent, if painful, read. Muriel's experiences feel all too realistic, as her youthful hopes are crushed by a society that regards marriage as the only appropriate goal for a woman. I could relate to her timidity and fear of failure that leads her to use the excuse of "helping her mother" to pass up the very few opportunities that do come her way. But this just made the ending all the more satisfying. I liked Delia almost from the first time we saw her, and was mentally urging Muriel to respond to her advances of friendship. The only other Holtby I've read is South Riding, but I will certainly be reading more of her work in future.
>50 Sakerfalcon: I felt the same about The Crowded Street, anguishing to read at times but wonderful! Delia is believed by many to be modelled on Vera Brittain.
I've started The Vicar's Daughter, which our own dear Kaggsy sent me earlier this year - squirming with embarrassment and highly enjoying it so far!
Last night in bed I finished Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner. Loved it!! Why I waited to read it until after I had read 3 other books by her I don't know.
The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West
The lush, extravagant lifestyle enjoyed by the upper echelons of society in the Edwardian era was portrayed perfectly in Sackville-West's novel. Hardly surprising that in 1930 it became an overnight success. The setting is Chevron, a parallel for Knole, her family estate presented to Thomas Sackville by Elizabeth I. Sebastian is the character Vita would like to have been: the son who would inherit. Viola, his intelligent, independent sister, more accurately represents Sackville-West, who was desperately disappointed that as a daughter she would not inherit Knole. The Edwardians illustrates the complicated restraints inhibiting choice for Sebastian. His love affairs are thwarted by his status: Sylvia, fun as long as they play by the rules; Mrs Spedding, hampered by middle-class values; and Phil, "the little model he picked up in Chelsea", who was unimpressed by his assets and title. The story ends appropriately at the end of the era, with the intimate details of the pomp and ceremony of King George V's coronation. The story paints a fabulous portrait of the elite society at the beginning of the 20th century, before the Great War, before everything changed forever.
This is an absorbing, entertaining story that provides much insight into the lifestyle restrictions of what seems like a time without limitations. Wonderful, from the opening paragraph to the last, I enjoyed every minute.
Now reading The King of a rainy country wondering where the title comes from/refers to.
Still enjoying The King of a rainy country very much in fact, and this morning posed my question from above on Twitter. I got a reply from Brigid Brophy's daughter - the title is from Baudelaire she has no idea about what the odd cover art is all about though. Sometimes social media is so good.
How wonderful, Ali, and how fascinating! I was just dipping into some Baudelaire but not the source of this one!
I've just finished reading Liana, which Julie was kind enough to send me. This book has moments of great beauty, especially in the depiction of the lush Caribbean island on which the story is set, but overall it is a sad book. The story is Pygmalion-like, in that Liana is taken from her original social and racial caste, refined and educated to be a fit wife for wealthy white Marc. She falls in love with Pierre, the teacher Marc has found for her, but it cannot end well. Both men are dimly aware that their interference has left Liana an outcast from both black and white society, belonging nowhere and unable to find happiness or a role in life, but her plight is some ways down their list of priorities. Gellhorn writes sensitively of the different races and classes within the small island community, giving the reader a nuanced view of life in this seeming paradise. The novel also gives a unique perspective on World War II, seen from afar yet impacting this distant place. It is a very good read, although not a cheering one.
I've been on hiatus but am glad I returned. Your suggestions and comments about books by Colette are very
helpful. I like to discover authors whose works are new to me. I look forward to reading the ones you suggested. I am still continuing to reread Viragos from the past. I am alternating the rereads with new ones. The latest reread was another Elizabeth Taylor books Up At Mrs Lippincotes and once again she has not disappointed me.The new to me Virago that I'm currently reading is The Daisy Chain by Charlotte Mary Yonge. It's fun to read books written by women in the 1800's. They give some insight into the life of women during that era. Almost all of the novels of that period that have survived the test of time are written by men.
I'm currently about two thirds of the way through The Curate's Wife E H Young is so good. 😀😊
My Middle Child has just read and loved The Camomile by Catherine Carswell and has reviewed it for me here:
>66 kaggsy: I loved middle child's review and also the wonderful description of the experience, familiar to some of my family members too, of shopping for Viragos for mum in a charity shop in "a cold town in England."
>67 Soupdragon: :) I'm getting quite used to phone calls from offspring about books (usually at an awkward moment at work!) It's nice that their radar are so attuned to Viragos!
I've started Pointed Roofs and it's not nearly as hard as I'd remembered!
>69 LyzzyBee: That's exactly what I thought. It's just a book that needs the right moment.
I've started reading The Willow Cabin, a secret Santa gift from Lisa this year.
It's been very engaging and enjoyable so far.
I've just picked up This Real Night and I have to say that the writing is gorgeous.
How I wish Rebecca West had been given just a little more time to complete this series of books ...
I finished A Jest of God yesterday and can see why there's so much said around here about Laurence's writing. I was so absorbed in the protag's world that I woke up this morning vaguely wondering how she was getting on in her new life!
>79 Sakerfalcon: I read it pre-blog and loved it too, which is why I nagged her to get it for herself when she was in that bookshop! I knew it would appeal to her, but she doesn't like the pressure of book recommendations! :)
80 - She doesn't like the pressure of book recommendations!
OMG! That is just the worst isn't it? You're standing there thinking - But I have a pile a mile high already. And - What makes her think I would enjoy that!? Sometimes the book is wildly popular (The Help which had me bawling at the end) and I resist it for that reason, or by an author I have no interest in like Michael Connelly. (I am currently on my 5th Harry Bosch after hearing that Belva loved them). Or it's in the Sci-Fi section (Connie Willis and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale).
But sometimes you wind up with this dreadful book boring a hole in your conscience and some eager beaver asking you daily - Did you read it yet? One such a book - for me at least - was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which a wonderful friend badgered me to read and which I just couldn't get into no matter how hard I tried. In the end I did a George Costanza and just watched the movie so I could say I read it :)
>81 romain: :)))) That's exactly it! I must admit I'm sometimes probably a bit of a pain with my book recommendations, and I'm trying to pull back a little nowadays because I know how annoying it is when someone tries to keep pushing a book on me that I really don't want to read! I do it out of enthusiasm, but you can't force a person to like a book they don't!
Ah Kaggsy - but what about the times you are right and they SHOULD read it? Like all the examples above where I actually loved them...
> I read Glitter of Mica over Christmas from my VSS. It was a excellent description of a particular time and place. I can hear those voices in my head, which is always a wonderful treat when reading. Kesson's book was a stark contrast to A Childhood in Scotland. Both are set on farms in the same general area, but oh the differences class engenders.
Happy New Year, all!
Just a note to let you know that Heather and I will be reading Susan Ferrier's Marriage in February, for our Chronological Virago project - anyone who cares to join us is very welcome!
>87 lyzard: That's been on Mount Tbr for ages, so I will read along with you!
Halfway in A Saturday Life by Radclyffe Hall - VSS gift from mrspenny. Quite amusing.
>72 Soupdragon: and >74 Soupdragon: Glad you found something beguiling about it Dee! I have it also and I will move it up the list and match it up sometime this year with the 2016 category challenge.
I just read something by Rebecca West, a VMC author, which is not a VMC that I'll go post about in the What Else Are You Reading thread.
Hall's early novel, A Saturday Life is amusing, but wildly uneven. While it seems to be set in the Edwardian and Georgian periods (near the end of the novel there are automobiles that can reach the breakneck speed of 60 mph), there is no sense of any of the social or political upheaval in Britain and Europe at the time. Only Frances, with her mannish costumes and monocled eye hints at the sexual tension underlying the period (and Hall's own life). There is gentle satire of the privileged, wealthy lives that the characters lead, but it is satire with no acid.
In sum, a short, pleasant read, but rather perplexing as to the author's purpose, even as the dedication reads "To Myself."
One warning -- if you pick this up, read the novel before the introduction which is full of spoilers.
I'm currently reading The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby - the last of her books I have to read Andi have saved for ages. It's good but not great. Maybe I expected too much.
>95 Soupdragon: yes I think that sums it up pretty well. I am just about to start writing a review for the blog. I did like it - but not as much as some of the others.
>74 Soupdragon: I seem to have taken Margaret Laurence as my aunt or something, so pleased am I when somebody new discovers her. I recently read The Fire-Dwellers about Rachel's sister Stacey and loved it as much, I think, as I did A Jest of God. I haven't checked to see if it's a VMC; my copy is not. Even so, it's well worth reading.
>96 Heaven-Ali: I'll get to it eventually and will look out for your review.
>97 LizzieD: That's good to know. I have The Fire Dwellers and almost picked it up immediately after A Jest of God but thought that might be a mistake. I'd have probably kept wanting Stacey to tell me how her sister was doing!
Laughed at Laurence being your new adoptive aunt but know exactly what you mean!
I've just finished This Real Night, and, though Rebecca West's writing is lovely and I want to keep following the Aubrey family, I have to say that the book is horribly uneven. It almost felt that she decided she had to parade all the different strands and plot she introduced in The Fountain Overflows - and the throw in the war at the end.
I know she hadn't finished the editing process when she died, and wonder why when the first book was published in 1957 and the second and third after her death in 1982. Someone must know a little more about her life that I do ....
It's disappointing that my copy - an original green - is sadly lacking any sort of introduction or afterword, and has just a bald statement of those facts.
The 4 Manawaka novels have been published in VMC editions, the collection of linked short stories A Bird in the House hasn't - I don't think it's ever been published in the UK, sadly. I have a Canadian paperback copy.
>100 elkiedee: If it is a small paperback published by New Canadian Library, I would hold on to it. They are becoming collectors' items.
Just a reminder that the group read of Susan Ferrier's Marriage will be starting next weekend, for anyone who cares to join in. I will post details here when the thread is up.
Eek! That's soon, I was thinking February was still a long way off.
>103 SassyLassy: My copy is New Canadian Library but it's in not in very nice condition, a bit old and brown. I think I had a nicer copy in my late teens/early 20s when I first read the others and wanted that for completion, don't know how (maybe I somehow got someone to order a copy from abroad), but it was damaged in a flood. Are all Lawrence books in those editions collectors' items? (if in reasonable condition) - I also have 2 of the novels in good condition.
>104 rainpebble: I have the University of Chicago copy of The Diviners - I really shouldn't have so many (3) copies of the same book (U of C very good condition copy, VMC good, CNL tatty) but they have different introductions. I also have NCL and VMC copies of Stone Angel and Fire-Dwellers. I found a lovely secondhand bookshop near Montreal where I bought these and a VMC of Barbara Comyns' The Skin Chairs in 2004.
>110 elkiedee: The New Canadian Library has several series. From 1958-1978 the books were numbered on the spines, and these are the ones I like. They had introductory essays, but after the sale of the publisher McClelland and Stewart this stopped and afterwords were introduced. Over the years, the covers have changed, depending on the series. As an example, here is The Stone Angel over the years. http://nclcollecting.ca/?page_id=1816
It is series 1 and series 2 that people seem to be beginning to acquire. I particularly like the Series 2 books, with their distinctive frames on the cover. Here is a link to a blogger who collects them all: http://nclcollecting.ca/
I don't think there is a better repository of Canadian writing than this series.
Do you remember where the bookshop near Montreal was?
Gone to.earth my mary webb. The back description intrigued me, and I must say it feels darkly enchanting so far. I can just picture the film in my head. Maybe I'm wrong, but I very much see it taking place in winter or fall, with bare trees and Hazels cottage. I'm imagining a very fantastic old english ballad type of tale, with shadows and Hazel playing her lute by the fireside.
I'm currently enjoying Marriage as part of Lyzard's group read. I had put off reading this because I expected a dry slog, but so far it's highly entertaining.
>115 Sakerfalcon: I'm glad to hear that Claire. I haven't started it yet; I might get to it today and certainly will do so over the weekend.
I'm very much enjoying Crossriggs and contemplating Marriage (so to speak!).
>111 SassyLassy: Not exactly, but you might have an idea if I say we were staying with a friend in Westmount, and we walked (for some reason) along the road where we could also get buses in to the city centre, in the opposite direction. Apparently the next town out was predominantly Korean, and that's where we found several secondhand bookshops, one with an impressive literary fiction stock. I should also say it was 2004.
I have forgotten again - what's the Virago set in the early days of socialism that I couldn't bear to read? I keep mixing it up with Red Pottage. Someone will remember! Cheers!
Now reading one of those lovely VMC designer editions Don't Look Now a collection of short stories by Daphne Du Maurier. There are only five stories in the collection but each one is between 50 and 70 pages long, so lovely long meaty stories. Just about to start the third in the collection - so far they're brilliant.
I'm reading very few Virago books at the moment but I just reread the wonderful Jane Eyre for the first time in several years. Such an amazing book. This may well kick-off a general Bronte reread.
I just reviewed The Fly on the Wheel by Katherine Cecil Thurston, sent to me last year by our very own Kaggsy! https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/book-reviews-to-the-lighthouse-and-the-fly-on-the-wheel-virago/
I reviewed Good Behaviour last week.
Wasn't Molly Keane a really brilliant writer. So glad I have several more of her books waiting.
>135 Heaven-Ali: yes she was, although she definitely improved over time. Some of her really early books have been panned by members of this group, like I think Simon.
I just read My Mortal enemy by Willa Cather. A very slight novella it didn't take me long at all. I really liked it.
>137 lauralkeet: - Ah well of course I still have several of her books to read :)
The Virago Book of Victorian Ghost Stories. I started it quite some while back and put it down, but I've started in again from the beginning because some of them aren't all that familiar to me after this while.
My review of My Mortal enemy
I've finished Dorothy Richardson's "The Tunnel" and it was really confusing https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/book-reviews-the-tunnel-harold-nicolsons-diaries-and-letters-and-a-round-up/
>143 LyzzyBee: Amen to that! And for what it's worth, I started out reading it "immersively" and it made me very grumpy. I switched to reading a bit at a time and got through it.
>144 lauralkeet: Laura - that makes me feel a lot better! I did the last 100 pages in one go ....
I am currently reading Lucy Carmichael by Margaret Kennedy. I have read a few other works by her. Most recently The Feast which has an unusual and unpredictable plot. I have also read The Forgotten Smile. I have liked both of the latter books and am not sure if they are VMC's. Most of the books that I read are from public libraries and have usually been printed by other publishers. . The edition of Lucy Carmichael that I am now reading was the original in a cloth cover. It's nice to discover books that are rather rare and yet still in circulation.
>146 kayclifton: I read The Feast fairly recently and I loved it - very unusual as you say!
I just read (couldn't finish) a book by Mary Lavin titled Mary O'Grady. I had discovered that she was born in a
town near my home in Massachusetts but had been brought to Ireland as a child. I was disappointed by the book and felt
that it didn't deserve to be on the Virago list. I haven't seen any discussion of her work so wonder if anyone is familiar
Hey Kay - I have not read either of the Mary Lavin's I have on my shelf but there are other VMC authors that I have also found very disappointing. However, every time I moan about a book someone turns up who LOVED it :) I am not sure if we have ever had consensus on any one book that everyone hated.
And I am not consistent in my hatred. For instance I loathed my first Enid Bagnold and adored the next two I read. There have been a couple of VMC authors I have loudly condemned however. I have no idea why VMC published Peyton Place (felt like throwing it against the wall), or the Mae West novels, and I thought the Jessie Kesson books pleasant but undeserving of a place on the list.
>154 romain: romain
>155 mrspenny: mrspenny
Thanks for the information. I get almost all of my VMC books from public libraries so if I don't like a book back it goes.
I had had Original Sin on my TBR list so am glad for some opinion of it as it is on a shelf in the library that I patronize.
I have just returned a copy of Elizabeth Bowen's To The North to the library and it is its first American edition.
It's great handling books with such a long history. It makes me feel a real connection with the authors.
Lisa, I really loved The Orchid House. I hope you enjoy it as well.
I have begun Margaret Oliphant's The Doctor's Family and Other Stories and I must say that I am very much appreciating the writing. Recently I have been reading more contemporary works and going back in time I realize once again why I tend to read much older pieces. I can certainly enjoy a current writer but for the beauty of words I will take the age old books any day.
The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner;
A 5* reread for me. Wonderful!
A book of cosmic significance, Belva. Every now and then you get a perfect 10 of a book and this was one of those for me. I'm almost afraid to re-read it in case it doesn't work a second time.
This was a reread for me, Barbara and it worked as wonderfully as when I read it the first time. But I do know that fear. This was almost a 'holy' read for me.
Am coming to the end of Liza's England which I am really enjoying, anyone else read it?
Yep. I read it several years ago as part of AV/AA. I liked it very much.
170: pastel29: Welcome to the VMC board. I hope you enjoy the Virago Modern Classics as much as all of us who visit here do.
I found A Pin to see the Peepshow an excellent read. The story is loosely based on an English legal case circa 1929-30 (I think it was about that time). It was a memorable case for some of the legal aspects as well as the social aspects and attitudes of the time. It is a gripping story and I hope you enjoy it.
Welcone indeed pastel29! I loved Pin too - it's definitely one of my favourite Viragos. Hope you enjoy it! :)
Reading a Virago (though not a VMC) - a collection of essays by the late Jenny Diski called A View from the Bed. So far I'm carried along by the quality of the writing more than the content.
I reviewed Liza's England - and have now pasted it from my blog over here.
I'm reading Blaming by Elizabeth Taylor. It's so good and reminds me I want to read more of her books.
Joyce, I have found none of Elizabeth Taylor's books depressing. In fact quite the opposite. I find them to be uplifting. Her Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is my very favorite & I've read them all multiple times. And even though you find them depressing, I am so happy that you like/love them. She is such a special author.
Welcome & I hope you like A Pin to See the Peepshow. I loved it!
I am just beginning Willa Cather's Lucy Gayheart. It is very good thus far.
>180 rainpebble: - Wow, what a difference of opinion. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont just slayed me -- next to A Fine Balance it was definitely the most depressing book I've ever read. I loved it though and gave it 5 stars. I loaned it to my sister-in-law who battles depression, and I warned her save it for one of her sunnier periods -- when she returned it she thanked me for the warning.
My fave Taylors are At Mrs. Lippincote and The Soul of Kindness. I don't remember Mrs. Palfrey being depressing but I do remember finding it disappointing next to some of her others. So how's that for a further difference of opinion? :) But then my least favorite is Angel which is considered by the critics to be her masterpiece.
Curiouser and curiouser. I read Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont first because I had been told that it was her masterpiece, and then I read Blaming because it was the only Taylor on the 1001 list, and now I see Angel is on the Guardian 1000 list. It seems that people have trouble pinning Elizabeth Taylor down!
I think I might have to just read them all.
>183 Nickelini: I think I might have to just read them all.
Oh yes, indeed you should! This group read all of her novels in order of publication in 2012, her centenary year. It was a wonderful experience. You can find the discussion threads for each book by visiting the Virago Group Wiki Page
And then there are her short stories ...
>179 Nickelini: I think Blaming (written shortly before her death) is the darkest and yes, probably most depressing of her books though they all have a certain poignancy to them. And Mrs Palfrey is very sad!
I have read all but one of Taylor's novels and a collection of her short stories, and am not sure any of them could be labelled her definitive book. My favourite novel of hers is A View of the Harbour but many would disagree with me. It's also rather sad in places, thinking about it! I wasn't so keen on Angel and don't think it's a great introduction to Taylor. Taylor clearly despised her protag and doesn't show her the empathy and care that other characters receive in her books. Though maybe the protag being a more exaggerated character makes the novel more entertaining to those who would find the other books a bit indistinct?
I think Taylor was a bit of an acquired taste for me and the more I read of her writing, the more I loved her! Which is probably why I appreciated Blaming so much more when I reread it.
If you're a short story reader I would recommend trying those next. The Blush and Other Stories is just wonderful.
Taylor and Pym fans might be interested to see these excerpts of letters from Taylor to Pym:
Those are fascinating, Dee. What a loss for us, that Taylor ordered all her letters be destroyed.
What a lovely find, Dee. Thank you for sharing them with us. Like Laura, I was fascinated & definitely was left wanting for more.
I'm reading a Virago almost by accident - what's turning out to be a very lively and interesting biography of Edith Sitwell, and there's the apple on the spine!
I'm reading Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood. I've been a big fan of her for years, but this collection of short stories is absolutely substandard. Will finish, but I will be very happy to toss this one in the donation bin.
I tend to really like Atwood's novels but have not had much luck with her short stories or her earlier novels. My first book of hers was The Handmaid's Tale which I consider a perfect 10. I'm just glad I did not start on something written pre-85 because I might never have continued with her.
>193 romain: Yes, I agree that her early works are not nearly as good as the stuff after the mid-80s.
>191 Nickelini: >193 romain: >194 Nickelini:
I own a lot of Atwood but have only read her Penelopiad (twice) & really loved it. However when I pick up one of her books to read, something inside me says: no, no, no. IDK
Ali, I just read Lucy Gayheart two days ago & found perfection in it. I loved it so much. I think that Willa Cather was somehow an instinctively great writer. One would expect this little book to be light reading but I did not find it so. There is just so very much within Cather's words. Beautiful. I hope you are loving it.
I have finally got round to A Game of Hide and Seek, the only Elizabeth Taylor novel I still had left to read. I'm reading in preparation for a conference at Hull University on British Women Writers between 1930- 1960 - someone's doing a paper on it as a reworking of Brief Encounter.
Exquisitely written as always. I think this may possibly be my favourite of hers yet.
I also recently read Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Babara Comyns, also for conference related reasons. I'm generally an admirer of Comyns but the timing was wrong for me here - an incident involving someone close with serious mental health issues occurred whilst reading, and all that psychosis in the book was just too uncomfortable to read about just then.
Mixing my Viragoes in with other books, I've read a volume of Dorothy Richardson (classic green) https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/book-reivews-deadlock-and-night-and-day/ and a biography of Edith Sitwell which is modern but carries the spine apple https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-reviews-an-astronauts-guide-to-life-on-earth-and-edith-sitwell/
I'm just about to start Nancy Spain's Poison for Teacher. I don't know how or when or where or why I got it (didn't even know I had it and never even heard of Nancy Spain), but I just stumbled across it in one of many book piles a few days ago and it fits in nicely with the RTT group's June theme, School Days School Days. (Considering that I'm the group member who chose this theme, I'm going to be doing a lot of "school days" reading this month.) And of course it gives me a ROOT too.
I own a couple of Spain's books and have read one - it's weird but fun! If you look her up, she was a fascinating woman!
Nancy Spain was on What's My Line a lot when I was a kid. I think. One of those shows. She was fabulous. I think she died in a plane crash.
Finished Poison for Teacher and only rated it 3*** but that may be more a limitation on my part than anything else. I think there were mid-20th century Briticisms that I just didn't catch which limited my appreciation of the humor. Also, I have the impression (not sure) that Poison for Teacher was part of a series, maybe the third or fourth book in a series, and I could be missing some backstory as to the character of Natasha.
Still on my School Days School Days theme, I've started The Getting of Wisdom and I'm liking it very much so far. It seems like a lighthearted(?) version of Frost in May or The Chinese Garden. I may try to get around to the movie too one of these days.
I've just finished Revolving Lights however my reading splurge is about to be undone by a work splurge!
I'm so behind. I'll quickly agree with Dee that A View of the Harbour is my favorite E. Tayler. I'm currently sneak-reading E. Hardwick's Sleepless Nights. It's so short that I should be able to finish it in June, but that's not implying that it's not good. I really, really like her writing, and I can also identify with a lot of her narrator's thinking.
I've finished Pilgrimage 3, the whole volume, so shall head over to the group read thread and post my thoughts there.
I just finished my first Elizabeth Taylor with The Wedding Group. Interesting story of a sheltered young woman escaping her cloistered home environment to work in an antiques shop in her town and meeting a young man who lives with his mother.
This is one of those books where I'm sorry I read the introduction first. Sometimes it helps to read the introduction and other times I think too much is given away about the story - I'm just realizing that this also happened with The Getting of Wisdom. I think I'll start reading this section after reading the rest of the book.
I'm reading "The Trap", installment 8 of Dorothy Richardson's "Pilgrimage" sequence.
Oh, and >219 LisaMorr: I never read the introduction first now!
>219 LisaMorr: oh dear - never read the introduction before the novel. It does seem ridiculous that they often give away so much, they really should come at the end of the book.
I excited to announce that I just got a notice from my library that my interlibrary loan came in! Soon I'll be reading....
Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge
what did you guys think of this one?
I just finished Delafield's The Way Things Are and really enjoyed it. It has that wonderful British humor but I did find myself laughing out loud a couple of times.
I'm glad to see there are many others who read the Introduction last.
Well I have finally worked out how to access my Library Thing, and I am blogging again (very slowly, after the hugest gap), and life at home has settled down after a somewhat chaotic period... so I thought I'd join in some 'conversations' again, if I may! Am reading Joanna, by Lisa St Aubin de Teran, which is excellent so far ( remember being knocked out by Keepers of the House, years and years ago, so hopefully I'll feel the same way about this). And I'm reading it in tandem with George Gissing's The Odd Women, which is taking me a little longer to get into.
>231 TheBookTrunk: Nice to see you here Christine. This is a lovely group and it looks like a great fit with your reading interests.
This is just to let you know that a tutored read of Jane Austen's Emma will be commencing next weekend---it would be great if some of you cared to join us!
I will post a link here when the thread is up.
I've started Hudson River Bracketed; it's a biggie but has an intriguing start, with a hero who wants MORE, who wants to find more ways of thinking and more words to think with.
I rather enjoyed that (although as always with Wharton, it's not exactly a barrel-load of laughs), but I found The Gods Arrive exasperating.
I've just started Oberland, though as I didn't get a seat on the train this morning I haven't got very far.
Currently reading The rising tide M.J.Farrell really enjoying as I also enjoyed Good Behaviour. Thinking of reading Invitation to the waltz Rosamond Lehman next. I just love VMC books and buy them whenever I can. So many fantastic authors I probably would not have never come across.
I just finished Golden Miles by Katherine Susannah Prichard. I didn't realize it was the second book in a trilogy until I was starting it but it easily stands alone. Prichard does an amazing job of creating characters with great depth but she also spends a lot of time describing the gold mining process in Australia in the 1920's. That was hard to follow but I did really enjoy the book.
>255 lauralkeet: I was pretty positive about it in mine, too. I've just sent an accidental duplicate I acquired of The Gods Arrive to Karen so we can all be lacklustre about it together!
>259 LyzzyBee: Another perceptive review of Richardson's work. I find I get more out of the Pilgrimage novels if I can read your reviews before the book! You unravel so much more than I do.
>260 Sakerfalcon: Claire. I read Liz and Karen's reviews after reading the book myself and agree with you that they invariably highlight things that completely passed me by. "Unravel" is a good word to describe it!
I'm about 20 pages from the end -- ready to start the last chapter. This one has held my interest more than others!
Same from me! It's always illuminating and enjoyable to see what others have to say! 😁
I'm reading Chatterton Square for the 1947 Club co-hosted by our own Kaggsy, and very readable and enjoyable it is, too!
I'm reading One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes. Very good indeed.
I just received Fly on the Wheel as a gift and am truly enjoying it.
I read The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison last week and, though it wasn't the easiest read, I was very impressed with the author's depth of understanding of Scottish history and 18th century life, and with the story she had to tell.
I hated what I read by her Jane. Not my cup of tea. I remember them as short though :)
I haven't read The Bull Calves but was interested in what Gill Plain says about it in Women's Fiction of the Second World War which looks at how women authors' fiction from that time can be seen as a response to the war.
Plain devotes a whole chapter to The Bull Calves which is entitled "Constructing the Future through the Past". She writes, "At a time when almost all writing can in some sense be seen as a strategy for survival, The Bull Calves represents a reinscription of the feminine in a world consumed by cataclysmic masculinity".
I managed to read E.H. Young's Chatterton Square for 1947 club, a bit late - my review is here https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/book-review-chatterton-square/
>273 romain: This is a big book, so probably a different one. It's a fairly serious family historical that I liked the look of, but I'm not sure I'll read certain other of her books.
>274 Soupdragon: That look so interesting, and I couldn't argue with the statement you quoted. Though I would say that Bryher did a similar thing - albeit with less emphasis on the feminine - in shorter and less demanding stories.
I am now reading The Simple Truth by Elizabeth Hardwick and liking it. It's an unusual plot focusing on a murder trial
from the perspective of people who are not involved in the case but spectators at the trial. I also read her Sleepless
Nights and liked it. Recently I read Vein of Iron by Ellen Glasgow and it was very enjoyable. I like Glasgow's work
and plan to read Vein of Iron. Neither of the books are VMCs but she is a VMC author.
Today I finished Death comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather - which I thought I had seen described as her masterpiece - but now can't find that - maybe whatever it was said most famous novel like in the blurb of my edition does. I always thought My Antonia her most famous novel -but it doesn't matter.
I absolutely loved it. A Lost Lady is still my very favourite and the one I think is her masterpiece, but this one isn't far behind it.
>283 Heaven-Ali: I've read pretty much all of Cather up through One of Ours (her Pulitzer), which basically comprises the first volume of the Library of America, and I've read a good number of her stories as well. Of the later work, all I've read is Death Comes for the Archbishop, which is my favorite of her novels. My particular liking for it comes from its series of vignettes, so that it's almost like a short story collection but proceeding in chronological sequence, and then with the great but very quiet
But I've only read My Ántonia once and I think it's a book that probably requires multiple readings to catch nuances of its slightly dimwitted male narrator (somewhat like Wuthering Heights). I not too long ago got the Norton Critical (edited by Cather scholar Sharon O'Brien) and I do want to get around to it one of these lifetimes for a reread as well as a reading of Norton's supplementary materials. On a reread, I could wind up placing it above Death Comes for the Archbishop.
I am one of the people who think Death Comes for the Archbishop is a masterpiece. I have not loved some of her others so this was a revelation for me. 5 stars and then some.
>284 CurrerBell: >285 romain: Interesting. I did love Death Comes for the Archbishop it is perfect in so many ways. I think A Lost Lady just stole my heart. I can see why people call Death comes.. as a masterpiece. I have loved everything of hers I have read. I just have The Professor's House to read - I think I did read it years ago but I can't remember it so counting as the one I have left to read. Have only read one volume of her short stories though. I believe there were more than that.
Did anyone else absolutely love her Lucy Gayheart? I thought it superb!
>286 Heaven-Ali: Having only "discovered" Willa Cather recently, I have only read The Professor's House, which I loved, and Shadows on the Rock which failed to impress. However, you and CurrerBell are definitely encouraging me to read more. Coincidentally, shortly after reading The Professor's House, I read Stoner, which makes an interesting pairing.
Touchstones definitely not cooperating; not recognizing authors and wanting to make Willa's book into Jane Eyre.
>288 SassyLassy: Well, it sounds like you're encouraging me to read The Professor's House....
>287 rainpebble: ... you're encouraging me to read Lucy Gayheart
I hope I didn't come off like some Cather expert! As I noted, aside from Death, the only novels I've read have been the earlier ones, the ones in the first Library of America volume (out of three volumes, and I've got all three).
Maybe next year I'll go on at least to the second volume (the later novels). Maybe as part of the Big Fat Book challenge and Read Our Own Tomes.
And maybe I could also get around to a couple of biographies I've got of her in TBR piles, by Sharon O'Brien and Hermione Lee. Ahhhh, should be a good year next year for ROOTing.
Yesterday I started reading The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen which is absolutely brilliant, a complete joy of a book, EvA's wonderful voice, and sublime descriptions of a place I had never heard of.
>293 LyzzyBee: Congratulations! I'm about halfway through Dimple Hill, so not too far behind.
Now reading my second VMC of December: The True Heart by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Just about to start Willa Cather's Shadows on the Rock. I recently read Winifred Holtby's The Crowded Street; not my favourite Holtby (South Riding) but still great
My 75th of the year (to meet the challenge) will be One Fine Day - at last! I've had it out on the READ NOW table since June. I'm looking forward to it.
I'm reading The Wind Changes which was part of my fabulous VSS parcel. Enjoying it very much.
I've got One Fine Day to read AND it ticks off another year in my Century of Reading but have to finish some others first ...
I'm re-reading The Eye of Love by Margery Sharp, and it's every bit as good as I remembered.
>304 lyzard: I've already read it and don't plan on rereading, but I've starred the thread to see what everyone else thinks. As the read proceeds, I'll opine further on Harriet Martineau – who is presumed to have been satirized by Dickens in the Bleak House character of Mrs Jellyby and who definitely had a tempestuous relationship with Currer Bell, who is currently "channeling" me to make some commentary on Miss Martineau's infamously unfavorable review of Villette.
One Fine Day was a super way to finish a year of reading! 5 stars from me!
>304 lyzard: >305 CurrerBell: I've read it too but will enjoy following the thread at some point. I confess that I was surprised at how easy it was to pick up and get into until I finished it.
I didn't know that HM was the original for Mrs. Jellyby. Thanks, Mike!
>307 Sakerfalcon: me too -- I've only read the first 4 chapters but it's shaping up nicely.
>309 CDVicarage: well that's a good point, Kerry. It's not my "first Virago for ages," but last year pretty much the only Viragos I read were Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage. It's really nice to be reading something else!
>311 Oregonreader: me too -- her books are wonderful comfort reads for me.
I have a series focus for 2017 and I'll be starting with Frost in May. As the first VMC, it seems like I should've probably read this long ago, but anyway, better late than never!
I read The Return of the Soldier last night as it's the second "novel" in the Virago Omnibus I'm reading. It's quite short so it's more like a novella than a novel. I enjoyed in particular the very evocative descriptions of landscape and the narrator's character development. It's my first Rebecca West and I will now have to tackle some others for next month - am currently looking at Harriet Hume as that was mentioned in the introduction to Vita's All Passion Spent.
That was my first West as well Grant. From there I went to Sunflower which I also liked. Have not read Harriet Hume though.
Enjoyed re-reading Vita Sackville-West's All Passion Spent https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/book-review-vita-sackville-west-all-passion-spent/
I have started reading In my own time: almost an autobiography by Nina Bawden which I believe Kaggsy got me for VSS three years ago - I am always grateful for the lovely books I receive but my tbr is out of all control.
>315 europhile: I am trying to decide between Harriet Hume and The Fountain Overflows for next month.
>316 romain: Thank you for mentioning Sunflower, I hadn't heard of it before. My library has a copy and also several other West's I don't own so I may pick some of them up next time I go to town. Then it will just be a question of deciding which to tackle (for some reason I find it easier to read library books than the ones I've owned for a while). I'm not sure I want to start the trilogy beginning with the Fountain Overflows, even though I already have all the books here.
I have started dipping into the Sylvia Townsend Warner volume of stories which was gifted by my lovely VSS Trish - absolutely excellent so far, and I've done a little post here:
Just a reminder that there is a group read of Geraldine Jewsbury's Zoe: The History Of Two Lives planned for May.
I am mentioning it now because Zoe seems to be one of the less accessible Viragos, and people wanting to participate may need time to hunt down a copy or get an interlibrary loan placed.
I will post any information I find about online access on The Virago Chronological Read Project thread. However, I am not yet aware of a downloadable version.
>327 lyzard: Thanks for the reminder. I do have a copy but it's good to have advance notice so I leave time to read it in May.
Am now reading Willa Cather's Shadows on the Rock, after just finishing a reread of
A Lost Lady. I haven't visited the thread for a while. My Virago rereading has been an
interesting experience. Elizabeth Taylor's books have been my rereading favorites while
Rebecca West has turned out to be a disappointment which is surprising because I liked her
works so much in my initial reading.
I keep forgetting I'm reading a Virago because my copy is from a different publisher. But I am enjoying The Behaviour of Moths (aka The Sister) by Poppy Adams very much when I get to it.
Funny how The Behaviour of Moths comes up with the touchstone for The Sister but when I type in The Sister I get Twilight.
Currently reading A little love, a little learning by Nina Bawden. She does write a very good story.
Just finished Nightingale Wood with a smile on my face. I hadn't remembered how comical it was.
I loved some of the characters. Every time they appeared in the plot line I began smiling. It was
also so refreshing to read a book with a happy ending for all of its main characters however
unrealistic. It's going to the top of the list of my favorites along with the works of Margery
Sharp. I loved The Eye of Love and Cluny Brown and I am now reading Something Light by
her. I enjoy her quirky plots and characters. She has a long list of other works and I am looking
forward to reading them.
I just visited the Margery Sharp Virago page to add The Eye of Love to my list and was
shocked at the cover illustration. It was a complete distortion of the characteristics of the
protagonist and wonder if it was off putting for potential readers. The edition that I read was not
a VMC but the original cloth edition by Little Brown Publishers with no cover illustration. If I'm not
mistaken about the Virago edition then I am very disappointed with them.
I have raised the question of possible Bronte group reads at the Virago Chronological Read Project thread. I'm trying to gauge how much interest there might be, so if anyone would like to voice an opinion over there, I would appreciate it!
I just finished Sapphira and the Slave Girl (3½***), which I think could have been a much better novel if Cather had written it in a first-person voice, although doing so would have forced her to focus more on a selected story line and just a few characters. The book actually works quite well in the Epilogue, when it shifts momentarily to the first-person voice of the then-five-year-old child who witnesses the return of Nancy; but when writing in a third-person omniscient, Cather tends too much to "telling" and not "showing" even to the extent of occasionally sounding on the point of breaking the fourth wall.
This wraps up my Cather read from May and I've now finished all of Cather's novels with the exception of My Mortal Enemy. I'd already read Alexander's Bridge, the Prairie trilogy, One of Ours, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and some of the stories; and for May, I read A Lost Lady, The Professor's House, Shadows on the Rock, Lucy Gayheart, and Sapphira and the Slave Girl. I read them in the Library of America's Willa Cather: Later Novels in a stab at ROOTing some of my large LoA collection. I've still got the third LoA Cather volume to read – it includes My Mortal Enemy, stories, poems, and nonfiction – but it's not an immediate priority at the moment.
My favorite Cather is still Death Comes for the Archbishop, but I do want to give My Ántonia a reread in My Ántonia (Norton Critical Edition) – and I think I have O Pioneers! (Norton Critical Edition) as well. It's possible that a reread of My Ántonia might change my mind into placing it first overtop Archbishop because I think My Ántonia is one of those books that requires multiple readings for its narrative voice. Jim Burden as a sometimes dimwitted male narrator reminds me of Lockwood in Wuthering Heights, and as a result I don't think you can "get" My Ántonia on just a single reading.
I've also got (I think) Hermione Lee's Willa Cather: Double Lives around somewhere and I'd like to get to it, though I've got some other biographies that take a higher priority. I've also got a couple biographies by Cather scholar Sharon O'Brien to get to.
It's kind of odd. I'd never read anything by Cather until five or six years ago, but I remember getting a copy of Archbishop as some kind of a prize from the nuns back in eighth grade.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.