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FleurFisher's 999 Challenge

999 Challenge

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1BeyondEdenRock
Oct 9, 2008, 8:13am Top

I maychange them between now and the end of the year, but at the moment I am thinking my categories will be: -

1. Virago Modern Classics
2. Persephone Books
3. Contemporary writing
4. 20th Century writing
5. Period and historical writing
6. Books listed for Orange Prizes
7. Books that I have owned without reading for too long
8. Books about books, authors and writing
9. Biographical and autobiographical writing

2cmbohn
Oct 9, 2008, 1:42pm Top

What are Persephone books?

3BeyondEdenRock
Oct 9, 2008, 2:55pm Top

Persephone Books reprints forgotten classics by twentieth-century (mostly women) writers.

There are similarities with Virago Modern Classics, but Persephones tend have more intimate, domestic themes.

There is a Persephone group here on LibraryThing and Persephone Books themselves have an excellent website: - www.persephonebooks.co.uk.

4englishrose60
Oct 11, 2008, 4:50pm Top

Hello, returning your visit. You have chosen some very good categories. I am interested to see what books you choose for 8 and 9, might give me some ideas. :-))

5BeyondEdenRock
Oct 21, 2008, 6:33am Top

I'm not one of those people who is organised enough to know what I'm going to be reading so far in advance. I read whatever takes my fancy of my own books and the books that appear in the library.

So watch this space!

I am lucky to have a good public library with a great fiction reserve that I browse from time to time plus a wonderful private subscription library.

Possible though are Agatha Christie's autobiography, Laura Thompson's biography of Nancy Mitford (I read her Agatha Christie biography in my 888 challege this year and it was excellent) and Rosamond Lehmann's "A Swan In The Evening".

My aim is to to read biographies of the same writers whose fiction I am reading. For instance, I have books by R. C. Sheriff that I plan to read in my Persephone category and I have spotted his autobiography in the library.

6BeyondEdenRock
Nov 3, 2008, 4:00pm Top

Well, having looked around other people's threads and looking again at my books I am making a couple of changes to my categories -

I'm splitting period and historical fiction into two separate categories.

I'm adding short stories. I love them when I read them, but I need that kick.

Going to make way are the Persephone and Orange categories. The books that I would have read there can be reallocated between my other categories.

7BeyondEdenRock
Nov 3, 2008, 4:02pm Top

So now my categories are: -

1. Virago Modern Classics
2. Short stories
3. Contemporary writing
4. 20th Century writing
5. Books written before 1900
6. Historical fiction
7. Books that I have owned without reading for too long
8. Books about books, authors and writing
9. Biographical and autobiographical writing

8socialpages
Nov 3, 2008, 7:40pm Top

I've been thinking about adding Short Stories as a category too. Like you I enjoy them when I read them but they tend to get forgotten when another book grabs my attention. I'm trying to make this 999 Challenge a mix of some easy very general categories and some categories that I need an extra incentive to dip into. I like your idea of reading a biography of the author you intend to read.

Persephone books - do they have distinctive covers like the Virago Modern Classics?

9ShannonMDE
Nov 4, 2008, 9:28am Top

For the books about authors category, I read Mockingbird: a portrait of Harper Lee a few years ago and it was a great read.

10karenmarie
Nov 4, 2008, 9:32am Top

It's fun to think about books and categories, isn't it? I'll be interested in seeing what books you choose.

I debated a Short Stories category, but got excited about specific short stories instead - Ghost Stories, so that's one of my categories.

Good luck!

11BeyondEdenRock
Nov 4, 2008, 10:13am Top

Pesephone books all have plain silvery grey covers with a small cream block for the title and author.

The endpapers though are all different and are usually a fabric design from the same period as the book.

Oh and if you buy the book from direct from Persepone it will come with a bookmark that matches the endpapers and has a quote from the book on the back.

I have never seen the Harper Lee book, but I will look out for it.

My short stories cover a range of genres, but at least one selection will be ghost stories - a small volume by Muriel Spark.

The problem with categories for me at the moment is fitting everything in.

I still plan to read a few of my Persephones, but they will slot into the short stories and 20th century writing categories.

Ideally I would have a gothic category, but there is nothing else I want to take out so the books concerned will have to fit into the books written before 1900 category.

Unless I have another rethink ..... !

12BeyondEdenRock
Nov 17, 2008, 5:11pm Top

I'm thinking of adding another category - 1001 Books You Must Read ... - we had the book out today and it reminded me of so many things I want to read.

I'm thinking it will have to be an overlap category though. 90 books would be too many and I do want to hit some of the big books I never quite get to. So allof the books will come from another category but also get placed in the 1001 category.

Does that make sense?!

13LisaMorr
Nov 18, 2008, 3:27pm Top

I received my first Virago Modern Classics book as a birthday gift last week - The Yellow Wallpaper; so nice to hear about the Persephone series - I'll have to check them out!

14LisaMorr
Nov 18, 2008, 3:27pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

15englishrose60
Edited: Nov 19, 2008, 11:43am Top

Congratulations on your first VMC Lisa. It's a good one.

16PensiveCat
Nov 19, 2008, 11:59am Top

Ah! We both have Virago - love it! I was in the NY Public Library's daily library sale, and saw one woman buy 2 VMC's. I so wanted to ask her if she was on LT, but didn't. Kicking myself now!

17BeyondEdenRock
Dec 12, 2008, 7:48am Top

I have tweaked my category one more time because I want to do an art history challenge next year. So now, finally, here they are.

18BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 30, 2009, 6:18pm Top

Virago Modern Classics

I read (and loved) lots of them this year, but I still have a big backlog

1. Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann (March)
2. South Riding by Winifred Holtby (March)
3. The Doves of Venus by Olivia Manning (July)
4. Jenny Wren by E H Young (July)
5. Brother Jacob by George Eliot (November)
6. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (November)
7. Castle Dor by Arthur Quiller-Couch & Daphne Du Maurier (December)
8. Loitering With Intent by Muriel Spark (December)
9. I Will Not Serve by Eveline Mahyère (December)

19BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 30, 2009, 6:22pm Top

Short Stories

I love short stories when I read them, I frequently acquire new volumes but I tend to forget to take them off the shelves. This category is to help me put things right.

1. Memoirs of a Novelist by Virginia Woolf (February)
2. The Pyramid by Henning Mankell (June)
3. Nocturnes by Kazuo ishiguro (August)
4. Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley (September)
5. Ten Sorry Tales by Mick Jackson (October)
6. Mugby Junction by Charles Dickens (November)
7. Tales of terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley (November)
8. Dancing with Mr Darcy an anthology (December)
9. Tea with Mr Rochester by Frances Towers (December)

20BeyondEdenRock
Edited: May 13, 2009, 5:24pm Top

Contemporary writing

Some of my favourite books in the 888 fell under this heading and I’m hoping for more great new books this year.

1. Monster Love by Carol Topolski (January)
2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (February)
3. The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Péju (February)
4. The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg (March)
5. The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor (March)
6. The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber (April)
7. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson (April)
8. The Spare Room by Helen Garner (April)
9. Yellow by Janni Visman (May)

21BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Sep 9, 2009, 4:33pm Top

20th Century Writing

When I set up my 888 challenge I thought I was sure of getting all of my fiction reading in by having categories for contemporary fiction and historical and period fiction. Wrong! A lot of books from the 20th century fell between the two, and so I have this category to put them in this time around.

1. Great Granny Webster by Caroline Blackwood (January)
2. The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne (February)
3. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (February)
4. Doreen by Barbara Noble (February)
5. Lady Into Fox by David Garnett (March)
6. Every Eye by Isobel English (April)
7. Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford (May)
8. Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson (August)
9. High Wages by Dorothy Whipple (August)

22BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 30, 2009, 6:23pm Top

Books written before 1900

I have always been an escapist reader and I enjoy few things more than escaping into the past

1. The Haunted House by Charles Dickens (January)
2. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (January)
3. Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott (January)
4. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (May)
5. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (June)
6. Miss Cayley's Adventures by Grant Allen (June)
7. Instructions to Servants by Jonathan Swift (July)
8. The Frozen Deep by Wilkie Collins (November)
9. Love and Friendship by Jane Austen (December)

23BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 13, 2009, 2:16pm Top

History: Fact & Fiction

I used to read a lot of historical fiction but I am moving more towards reading more history and historical biography. This covers me for both.

1. Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey (April)
2. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (May)
3. The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary (September)
4. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (September)
5. Gathering The Water by Robert Edric (September)
6. The Best of Men by Clare Letemendia (September)
7. The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland (October)
8. Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson (December)
9. London War Notes 1939 to 1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes (December)

24BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 30, 2009, 6:26pm Top

Books that I have owned without reading for too long

My TBR pile is ridiculous. I want to clear out some books I won’t want to keep once I’ve read them and I want to read some of the classics I keep putting off until I have more time. That day may never come!

1. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (January)
2. Baby Love by Louisa Young (January)
3. A Time of Angels by Patricia Schonstein (March)
4. We Have always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (October)
5. The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski (November)
6, The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin (November)
7. Little Indiscretions by Carmen Posadas (December)
8. Rock Crystal by Adalbery Stifter (December)
9. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman (December)

25BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 30, 2009, 6:28pm Top

Writers and Artists

I want to read more about some of my favourite writers and artists. I’m aiming to link fiction and literary biography and read about woman artists and some local artists whose work I can visit regularly.

1. Laura Knight by Caroline Fox (February)
2. The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith (February)
3. A Boy at the Hogarth Press by Richard Kennedy (May)
4. Without Knowing Mr Walkley by Edith Olivier (June)
5. The Swan in the Evening by Rosamond Lehmann (July)
6. Jane's Fame by Claire Harman (August)
7. The View From Downshire Hill by Elizabeth Jenkins (October)
8. Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon (October)
9. Moon Behind Clouds by Kate Campbell (December)

26BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 13, 2009, 12:40pm Top

Biographies, Autobiographies, Letters & Diaries

This should cover the rest of my non fiction reading and may have to pick up an overflow from history, writers and artists. Last year when I set up my 888 challenge I thought I might struggle with non fiction, but I finished that category first and find myself reading more and more of it

1. "Marraine" by Oriel Malet (January) **
2. Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer (January)
3. The Good Women of China by Xinran (March)
4. Where Shall We Go For Dinner?: A Food Romance by Tamasin Day-Lewis (September)
5. Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin (October)
6. Kisses on a Postcard by Terence Frisby (November)
7. Arthur Rackham: A life in Illustration by James Hamilton (November)
8. Away From The Bombs by Ricky Clitheroe (November)
9. Night Thoughts of a Country Landlady by Edith Olivier (December)

** No copies on LibraryThing so no touchstone it seems!

27ShannonMDE
Dec 17, 2008, 10:10am Top

I went to a talk at the Texas Book Festival by Shannon McKenna Schmidt about her book Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West.. it would probably be great for your writers / artists category. It sure made me want to reignite my love / hate relationship with Mr. Hemingway.

28juliette07
Dec 18, 2008, 11:48am Top

Oh I did enjoy reading your thoughts and reflections regarding your categories -thank you! I too have been ruminating but have yet to decide. I love the way you wrote a little about each section and your thoughts about what you may read. Thanks!

29BeyondEdenRock
Dec 18, 2008, 4:35pm Top

Shannon - Thank you, that does sound interesting. I shall have a browse of the library catalogue to see if they have a copy.

Julie - It is lovely to see you here. I do a lot of ruminating but for the moment I am trying to clear a backlog of library books and books that don't quite fit. And I am waiting to see your thread too!

30juliette07
Dec 24, 2008, 4:22pm Top

fleur - I am almost ready to post. Like you I simply cannot commit to casting my books in stone at the beginning of the year!! I am far too 'flighty' and get eeasily carried away and enthused especially when I feel an interest growing within that has been borne of ideas ot thoughts from another volume.

Your way of listing is rather similar to the way I organised myself for the 888. I kept returning to my thread and edited each time. Best wishes for a wonderful reading 2009!

31BeyondEdenRock
Jan 4, 2009, 6:07pm Top

Book 1

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Category: Books that I have owned without reading for too long

Rating: 3 / 5 (interesting but flawed)

More detailed thoughts here.

32Soupdragon
Edited: Jan 5, 2009, 3:40am Top

#31, I enjoyed reading your review.

Like you, I found this book "flawed but interesting". I read it a few years ago and remember feeling very drawn in emotionally by the book whilst I was reading it and then a bit manipulated after I'd put it down.

At the time I put the book's "flaws" down to it being a book aimed at teenagers. Now I wonder if that's a bit patronising!

edited to correct typos

33kittykay
Jan 5, 2009, 3:53am Top

31 : I really liked your review. It was an interesting read on a book I had never heard of! It seems interesting, although I would have to take a look at the book itself to make my idea about it. Thanks! :)

34BeyondEdenRock
Jan 6, 2009, 5:40pm Top

soupdragon - I didn't feel manipulated but I wasn't quite as drawn in as i felt I should be.

kittykay - It's still a book worth reading if you have any interest in YA. Meg Rosoff's subsequent books look rather more juvenile, otherwise I would give her the benefit of the doubt and try them.

35BeyondEdenRock
Jan 6, 2009, 5:43pm Top

Book 2

Monster Love by Carol Topolski

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 3 /5 (very harrowing, but compelling)

More detailed thoughts here.

36BeyondEdenRock
Jan 10, 2009, 2:31pm Top

Book 3

The Haunted House by Charles Dickens

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 3.5 /5 (Linked ghost stories - a nice Victorian curio.)

More detailed thoughts here.

37BeyondEdenRock
Jan 19, 2009, 3:03pm Top

Book 4

Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 4 /5 (Is a governess what she seems? - a great little page-turner!)

More detailed thoughts here.

38BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Jan 24, 2009, 4:42pm Top

Book 5

Marraine by Oriel Malet

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 4 /5 (Wonderful family memoir.)

More detailed thoughts here.

Edited because it was listed in the wrong category.

39englishrose60
Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 3:16pm Top

I am enjoying your reviews. More books for my wishlist:-)

40BeyondEdenRock
Jan 19, 2009, 3:23pm Top

Thank you Englishrose. I have only just started reviewing (mainly to help me remember better what I read!), so it is nice to know that I am helping to steer someone else towards some of the books I have enjoyed.

41Soupdragon
Jan 20, 2009, 4:43am Top


I didn't know Louisa May Alcott had written adult fiction. Behind a Mask sounds fun. The other LT reviews suggest the story is one of a collection. Did your edition contain other stories or was it the novella alone?

42BeyondEdenRock
Jan 20, 2009, 5:13am Top

My edition was just the one novella published by Hesperus Press. There is another volume of the same title with a total of four novellas and there are a few anthologies of short stories around too, I believe.

43VictoriaPL
Jan 20, 2009, 3:56pm Top

My edition of Behind a Mask has the four novellas in it. You're right, the stories are exactly what Jo would write. I love how melodramatic they are.

44BeyondEdenRock
Jan 24, 2009, 4:36pm Top

Book 6

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 4.5 /5 (Dazzling!)

More detailed thoughts here.

45BeyondEdenRock
Jan 24, 2009, 4:41pm Top

Book 7

Time Was Soft There* by Jeremy Mercer

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 2 /5 (Parisienne bookshop memoir.)

More detailed thoughts here.

* That's the American title. Here in England it was "Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs" but there was no touchstone for that.

46Soupdragon
Jan 25, 2009, 3:30am Top

#44, I listened to a radio serialisation of Dorian Gray a few years ago and it was wonderful. Your review reminded me of why I should read the real thing. So many books...!

#45, The subject matter of this one sounds amazing! What a shame the book itself was disappointing.

47BeyondEdenRock
Jan 28, 2009, 4:59pm Top

I can imagine Dorian Gray working well on the radio. Hopefully BBC radio 7 will pull it out of the archive for us to listen to one day soon!

There is another book about Shakespeare & Co. - it was quoted on the dust jacket of the book I read but I forgot to note down the details. I'll try to remember to look at the book again next time I'm in the library.

I have been off challenge for a while, re-reading The Owl Service (thoughts here) for a childhood favourites reading challenge elsewhere.

I'm reading a 999 book again now though - a very good and beautifully illustrated biography of Laura Knight for my writers & artists category.

48Soupdragon
Edited: Jan 29, 2009, 10:13am Top

#47,

The Owl Service is one of my all-time favourite books and is probably the book I have re-read the most in my life! Have read it several times as a child, then again as a teenager,and once in my 20s and once in my 30s. (Must be due up again soon, thinking about it as I'm now 40!) Each time I've read it I've experienced it a little differently but it always keeps its magic. I have the same 1960s edition and also a more contemporary one that I bought when I couldn't find my original.

Have you read any of Garner's adult novels? I've only read Thursbitch which I found very affecting, once I'd got over the authentic, C18th rural dialect.

Edited to correct the word dialogue to dialect!

49BeyondEdenRock
Jan 29, 2009, 5:33am Top

I loved Alan Garner's books as child but I never owned them and completely forgot about him for a long time.

Re-reading childhood favourites is risky but this one was an absolute joy!

I have never come across his adult books -they are definitely something to look out for.

And now I know that the legend in the book comes from "The Mabinogion" I'm going to have to investigate that too!

50BeyondEdenRock
Jan 31, 2009, 4:28pm Top

Book 8

Baby Love by Louisa Young

Category: Books that I have owned without reading for too long

Rating: 3 /5 (Single motherhood, belly dancing & crime!)

More detailed thoughts here.

51BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Jan 31, 2009, 4:31pm Top

Book 9

Great Granny Webster by Caroline Blackwood

Category: 20th Century Writing

Rating: 2 /5 (Black comedy with a tragic heart)

More detailed thoughts here.

52BeyondEdenRock
Feb 2, 2009, 4:26pm Top

Book 10

The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

Category: 20th Century Writing

Rating: 3 /5 (1920s country house mystery)

More detailed thoughts here.

53BeyondEdenRock
Feb 6, 2009, 8:44am Top

Book 11

Memoirs of a Novelist by Virginia Woolf

Category: Short Stories

Rating: 3.5 /5 (Five early stories)

More detailed thoughts here.

54juliette07
Feb 6, 2009, 12:11pm Top

Thank you fleur - a delightful resume of a delightful book!

55BeyondEdenRock
Feb 9, 2009, 4:47pm Top

Book 12

Laura Knight by Caroline Fox

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 3 /5 (Good biography & wonderful paintings)

More detailed thoughts here.

56englishrose60
Feb 9, 2009, 5:31pm Top

Enjoyed you review of Laura Knight. Looks like another one for the wishlist.

57englishrose60
Edited: Feb 9, 2009, 5:33pm Top

Enjoyed your review of Laura Knight. Looks like another one for the wishlist. Sigh...

58BeyondEdenRock
Feb 12, 2009, 9:11am Top

Book 13

The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 4.5 /5 (Lovely memoir of a Cornish childhood between the wars)

More detailed thoughts here.

59juliette07
Feb 12, 2009, 3:17pm Top

Really enjoyed reading your review fleur - that sense of loss when you finish a book that had appealed to you so much - I recognise that!

60BeyondEdenRock
Feb 16, 2009, 4:53pm Top

Book 14

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 4 /5 (Wow!)

More detailed thoughts here.

61englishrose60
Feb 17, 2009, 8:06am Top

Another one I must get Fleur after reading your blog. Sounds like a book I would enjoy.

62juliette07
Feb 17, 2009, 2:55pm Top

Excellent review fleur - I loved it too=)

63judylou
Feb 18, 2009, 5:46am Top

Yet another woderful review Fleur. I am enjoying your reading!!

64BeyondEdenRock
Feb 19, 2009, 5:04pm Top

Thank you both!

65BeyondEdenRock
Feb 19, 2009, 5:08pm Top

Book 15

The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Péju

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 3.5 /5 (A simple story to break your heart!)

More detailed thoughts here.

66BeyondEdenRock
Feb 27, 2009, 6:13pm Top

I have wandered off-challenge to read another childhood favourites challenge book - The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I'd forgotten just how good - and how lcever - it is. Thoughts here.

67BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Feb 27, 2009, 6:17pm Top

Book 16

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Category: 20th Century Writing

Rating: 3 /5 (unreliable narrator - early 20th century classic)

More detailed thoughts here.

68BeyondEdenRock
Feb 28, 2009, 4:34pm Top

Book 17

Doreen by Barbara Noble

Category: 20th Century Writing

Rating: 4 /5 (an evacuee is torn between two worlds)

More detailed thoughts here.

69Soupdragon
Mar 1, 2009, 6:23am Top

Very interesting review, Fleur. Thank you. As you know, I recently read Saplings which also looks at the long-term psychological consequences for evacuated children, though Doreen sounds as if it is a more subtle book.

Love those end-papers too!

70BeyondEdenRock
Mar 8, 2009, 6:20pm Top

I have yet to read Saplings, but it is mentioned in the introduction to Doreen. The latter book covers a short period - ending before the end of the war - and so focuses more on Doreen being pulled two ways in the present rather than the longer term consequences.

I have discovered a hole in my categories - nowhere to put books written this century about the past not old enough for me to call it history.

So I am reporting that I have just finished Out Stealing Horses, but I have no category to give it a home. Which is a shame because it is a wonderful book. Thoughts here.

71BeyondEdenRock
Mar 8, 2009, 6:23pm Top

Book 18

The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 2.5 /5 (Swedish murder mystery)

More detailed thoughts here.

72BeyondEdenRock
Mar 12, 2009, 5:59pm Top

Book 19

The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 3 /5 (Is one family the last on earth?)

More detailed thoughts here.

73tracyfox
Mar 15, 2009, 1:40pm Top

Enjoying all your excellent reviews. So many books so little time!

74BeyondEdenRock
May 2, 2009, 2:48pm Top

Thank you trayfox. I started reviewing mainly to help my own memory and it is a lovely bonus when others read and enjoy.

I've been reading but I've rather slipped up on updating this thread. Time to put things right!

75BeyondEdenRock
May 2, 2009, 2:56pm Top

Book 20

Lady Into Fox by David Garnett

Category: 20th century writing

Rating: 4.5 /5 (A lovely little book)

More detailed thoughts here.

76BeyondEdenRock
May 2, 2009, 3:05pm Top

Book 21

A Time of Angels by Patricia Schonstein

Category: Books that I have owned without reading for too long

Rating: 2 / 5 (lovely writing but the mix of reality and magic realism didn't work for me)

More detailed thoughts here.

77BeyondEdenRock
May 2, 2009, 3:09pm Top

Book 22

Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 4.5 /5 (A joy to read)

More detailed thoughts here.

78BeyondEdenRock
May 2, 2009, 3:14pm Top

Book 23

South Riding by Winifred Holtby

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 5 /5 (Book of the year!)

More detailed thoughts here.

79BeyondEdenRock
May 2, 2009, 3:17pm Top

Book 24

The Good Women of China by Xinran

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 4 /5 (Extrordinary)

More detailed thoughts here.

80Soupdragon
May 2, 2009, 4:12pm Top

Great reviews, as ever, Fleur!

If you haven't already, I really recommend The Weather in the Streets now you have read Invitation to the Waltz. It is rather different to ITTW and stands alone perfectly adequately but one of the things I enjoyed about it was identifying all the characters from the Waltz as they turned up in Olivia's further life.

You are certainly right about The Good Women of China being haunting. I read it several years ago but can't forget some of those true life stories.

81cmbohn
May 2, 2009, 5:00pm Top

Adding more to my TBR list!

82BeyondEdenRock
May 4, 2009, 9:26am Top

Soupdragon - I have The Weather In The Streets and I'm pleased to have a recommendation. It doesn't always work when authors go back to characters in a later period.

cmbohn - I'm having a good run of books!

83BeyondEdenRock
May 4, 2009, 9:34am Top

Book 25

The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 4 /5 (cleverly updated myth)

More detailed thoughts here.

84BeyondEdenRock
May 4, 2009, 9:36am Top

Book 26

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 4 /5 (intelligent crime blockbuster)

More detailed thoughts here.

85BeyondEdenRock
May 4, 2009, 9:41am Top

Book 27

Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey

Category: History - fact & Fiction

Rating: 1 /5 (A major disappointment)

More detailed thoughts here.

86BeyondEdenRock
May 4, 2009, 9:44am Top

Book 28

The Spare Room by Helen Garner

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 4.5 /5 (A difficult subject beautifully handled)

More detailed thoughts here.

87BeyondEdenRock
May 4, 2009, 4:13pm Top

Book 29

Every Eye by isobel English

Category: 20th Century Writing

Rating: 4 /5 (Lovely "quiet" novel)

More detailed thoughts here.

88judylou
May 4, 2009, 9:44pm Top

Fleur, wonderful reviews as always. Your well thought out comments on the books you are reading are definitely influencing my tbr list. The Spare Room is an extraordinary book. After reading it last year, its story has remained with me. I lost an aunt last year in similar circumstances to the character in the book, and gave this book to my mother to read a little while after. She found it to be a real help to her coming to terms with the loss of her sister. It is a difficult book to read, but certainly a book that deserves to be read widely.

89BeyondEdenRock
May 13, 2009, 5:17pm Top

Judylou, The Spare Room is sticking with me too.

I read an interesting short interview with Helen Garner here a few days ago.

It seems that the book is partially autobiographical. I had wondered - particularly since she gave the lead character her own name. I didn't want to mention it in my review as many authors resent the assumption that anything with a degree of relism must be taken from life.

90BeyondEdenRock
May 13, 2009, 5:30pm Top

Book 30

Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford

Category: 20th century writing

Rating: 3 /5 (Sharp satire written and published in the "phony war")

More detailed thoughts here.

91BeyondEdenRock
May 13, 2009, 5:34pm Top

Book 31

Yellow by Janni Visman

Category: Contemporary writing

Rating: 3 /5 (an agrophobic's ordered life hits problems)

More detailed thoughts here.

92BeyondEdenRock
May 15, 2009, 5:26pm Top

Book 32

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 3.5 /5 (A lovely journey into the past)

More detailed thoughts here.

93BeyondEdenRock
May 23, 2009, 3:28pm Top

Book 33

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 4/5

I don't normally classify 20th century books in history, but as the ramifications of World War I run through all of the Maisie Dobbs book it did seem right to put it here.

More detailed thoughts here.

94BeyondEdenRock
May 29, 2009, 6:28pm Top

Book 34

A Boy at the Hogarth Press by Richard Kennedy

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 3 /5 (The office boy's view)

More detailed thoughts here.

95BeyondEdenRock
Jun 4, 2009, 5:44pm Top

Book 35

The Pyramid by Henning Mankell

Category: Short Stories

Rating: 3 /5 (Short stories to fill in the background)

More detailed thoughts here.

96BeyondEdenRock
Jun 19, 2009, 5:14pm Top

Book 36

Without Knowing Mr Walkley by Edith Olivier

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 3 /5 (Author's autobiograpy focuses not on herself but on the world around her)

More detailed thoughts here.

97BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Jun 28, 2009, 5:46pm Top

Book 37

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 3.5 /5 (An excellent recommendation from my mother.)

More detailed thoughts here.

edited to correct the link

98BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Dec 13, 2009, 2:41pm Top

Book 38

The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Gergina Harding

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 5/5 (Extraordinary!)

More detailed thoughts here.

99BeyondEdenRock
Jun 28, 2009, 5:51pm Top

Book 39

Little Dorrit by Charles dickens

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 3.5 /5 (1070 pages!!!)

More detailed thoughts here.

100BeyondEdenRock
Aug 5, 2009, 5:14pm Top

I am horribly behind in posting here, but I am going to try to catch up over the next few days.

101BeyondEdenRock
Aug 5, 2009, 5:15pm Top

Book 40

Miss Cayley's Adventures by Grant Allen

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 4 /5 (Not your typical Victorian heroine)

More detailed thoughts here.

102Nickelini
Aug 5, 2009, 9:41pm Top

I found your comments on A Boy at the Hogarth Press very interesting. It sounds like a book I'd like to read, if I can get my hands on it.

I have mixed feelings about this sort of book though . . . there are certain historical figures (for me, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen and Audrey Hepburn) who I just love to learn about . . . but then I see a lot of exploitation where some people churn out drudge and sell it using the famous name. Sounds like this one was okay.

103BeyondEdenRock
Aug 16, 2009, 6:22pm Top

This one was good. Richard Kennedy stuck to what he saw and how he felt at the time. Clearly the name of Woolf may have helped him get published but I never felt he was exploiting the connection.

104BeyondEdenRock
Aug 16, 2009, 6:26pm Top

Book 41

Directions to Servants by Jonathan Swift

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 3/5 (A satirical manual!)

More detailed thoughts here.

105BeyondEdenRock
Aug 16, 2009, 6:32pm Top

Book 42

The swan in the Evening by Rosamond Lehmann

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 4 /5 (Sad fragments of autobiography)

More detailed thoughts here.

106BeyondEdenRock
Sep 9, 2009, 4:19pm Top

Book 43

The Doves of Venus by Olivia Manning

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 4.5 /5 (magical!)

More detailed thoughts here.

107BeyondEdenRock
Sep 9, 2009, 4:21pm Top

Book 44

Jenny Wren by E H Young

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 4 /5 (the missing link between Jane Austen and Barbara Pym)

More detailed thoughts here.

108BeyondEdenRock
Sep 9, 2009, 4:24pm Top

Book 45

Noturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

Category: Short Stories

Rating: 2.5 /5 (variations on a theme)

More detailed thoughts here.

109BeyondEdenRock
Sep 9, 2009, 4:31pm Top

Book 46

Jane's Fame by Claire Harman

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 3.5 /5 (How Jane Austen conquered the world!)

More detailed thoughts here.

110BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Sep 9, 2009, 4:36pm Top

Book 47

Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson

Category: 20th Century Writing

Rating: 3 /5 (A lovely little character study)

More detailed thoughts here.

111BeyondEdenRock
Sep 9, 2009, 4:38pm Top

Book 48

High Wages by Dorothy Whipple

Category: 20th Century Writing

Rating: 4.5 /5 (A wonderful addition to Persephone's list)

More detailed thoughts here.

112BeyondEdenRock
Sep 9, 2009, 5:03pm Top

Book 49

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 3/5 (Mayhem at the World's Fair - unbelievable but highly entertaining!)

More detailed thoughts here.

113BeyondEdenRock
Sep 9, 2009, 5:07pm Top

Book 50

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 4 /5 (A new perspective on a famous piece of Tudor history)

More detailed thoughts here.

114digifish_books
Sep 9, 2009, 11:01pm Top

Hi Jane, thanks for your detailed review of Jenny Wren. I am a big fan of Barbara Pym so I will look out E.H.Young's novels (now on my wishlist). Glad to see you loved High Wages, I have it on order and recently purchased They Knew Mr Knight.

115BeyondEdenRock
Sep 10, 2009, 5:24am Top

Hello!

Jenny Wren was my first book by E H Young and I will definitely be reading more. She doesn't quite have the wit of Barbara Pym (then again, who does?) but the observation and detail is spot on.

And High Wages is utterly charming. I'm lookingforward to reading more of Dorothy Whipple's words - if only there were more hours in the day!

116BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Sep 15, 2009, 7:07am Top

Book 51

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
Category: Short Stories

Rating: 4.5 /5 (Perfectly executed, linked spooky stories)

More detailed thoughts here.

117BeyondEdenRock
Edited: Sep 25, 2009, 5:20pm Top

Book 52

Where Shall We Go For Dinner?: A Food Romance by Tamasin Day-Lewis

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 1.5 /5 (Disppointing memoir from a wonderful food writer.)

More detailed thoughts here.

118BeyondEdenRock
Sep 25, 2009, 5:19pm Top

Book 53

Gathering the Water by Robert Erdic

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 4/5 (The coming of a reservoir changes lives and a community)

More detailed thoughts here.

119BeyondEdenRock
Oct 3, 2009, 12:39pm Top

Book 54

The Best of Men by Clare Letemendia

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5 (Intrigue, action, family drama & romance in the civil war)

More detailed thoughts here.

120BeyondEdenRock
Oct 3, 2009, 6:35pm Top

Book 55

The View from Downshire Hill by Elizabeth Jenkins

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 4 /5 (Selected memories from author in her nineties)

More detailed thoughts here.

121BeyondEdenRock
Nov 25, 2009, 5:08pm Top

Book 56

Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 3.5 /5 (Country notebooks)

More detailed thoughts here.

122BeyondEdenRock
Nov 25, 2009, 5:15pm Top

Book 57

Ten Sorry Tales by Mick Jackson

Category: Short Stories

Rating: 3.5 /5 (Strange little tales)

More detailed thoughts here.

123BeyondEdenRock
Nov 25, 2009, 5:19pm Top

Book 58

Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon

Category: Artists & Writers

Rating: 4 /5 (Fiction letters to pay tribute to an author)

More detailed thoughts here.

124BeyondEdenRock
Nov 25, 2009, 5:24pm Top

Book 59

The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 4 /5 (A wonderful tale set in the dark ages)

More detailed thoughts here.

125BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 11:42am Top

I'm still reading - I just forget to post updates!

126BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 11:47am Top

Book 60

We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Category: Books that I have owned without reading for too long

Rating: 4.5 /5 (maybe the perfect spooky book.)

More detailed thoughts here.

127BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 11:52am Top

Book 61

Kisses on a Postcard by Terence Frisby

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 4.5 /5 (Memories of a Cornish evacuee.)

More detailed thoughts here.

128BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 11:55am Top

Book 62

Brother Jacob by George Eliot

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 2.5 /5 (a morality tale in novella form)

More detailed thoughts here.

129BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:00pm Top

Book 63

The Frozen Deep by Wilkie Collins

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 3.5 /5 (Linked ghost stories - a nice Victorian curio.)

More detailed thoughts The Haunted House by Charles Dickens

Category: Books written before 1900

Rating: 3.5 /5 (Adventure and romance - much high drama!.)

More detailed thoughts a href="http://fleurfisher.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/the-frozen-deep-by-wilkie-collins/"here/a.">here.

130BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:04pm Top

Book 63

Stone's Fall by Iain Peare

Category: History - fact & Fiction

Rating: 4 /5 (A wonderful, complex journey back through history to discover whay a man died.)

More detailed thoughts here.

131BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:09pm Top

Book 64

Arthur Rackham: A Life in Illustration by James Hamilton

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 4.5 /5 (A well written biography and a wonderful range of illustrations.)

More detailed thoughts here.

132BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:12pm Top

Book 65

Away From The Bombs by Ricky Clitheroe

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 4.5 /5 (Another Cornish evacuee - this one in my father's home town.)

More detailed thoughts here.

133BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:18pm Top

Book 66

The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski

Category: Books that I have owned without reading for too long

Rating: 4 / 5

More detailed thoughts here.

134BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:21pm Top

Book 67

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 5 /5 (Wow!)

More detailed thoughts here.

135BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:21pm Top

Book 67

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 5 /5 (Wow!)

More detailed thoughts here.

136BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:31pm Top

Book 68

Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 3.5 /5 (A highly entertaining mix of history and mystery)

More detailed thoughts here.

137BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 12:38pm Top

Book 69

Castle Dor by Arthur Quiller-Couch & Daphne Du Maurier

Category: Virago Modern Classics

Rating: 3 /5 (Retelling of the legend of Tristan and Iseult - begun by AQQ and completed by DDM)

More detailed thoughts here.

138BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 2:14pm Top

Book 70

Night Thoughts of a Country Landlady by Edith Olivier

Category: Biographical and autobiographical writing

Rating: 4.5 /5 (WW2 through the eyes of an old lady doing her bit in her village.)

More detailed thoughts here.

139BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 2:21pm Top

Book 71

London War Notes 1939 to 1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes

Category: History - Fact & Fiction

Rating: 5 /5 (Extraordinarily vivid reports from wartime London. A book that really should be back in print.)

More detailed thoughts here.

140BeyondEdenRock
Dec 13, 2009, 2:25pm Top

Book 72

Little Indiscretions by Carmen Posada

Category: Books that I have owned without reading for too long

Rating: 2 / 5 (The cover promised a “Perfect blend of Agatha Christie and Pedro Almodóvar.” It didn't quite work.)

More detailed thoughts here.

141BeyondEdenRock
Dec 30, 2009, 6:31pm Top

Finished! Just in time!

I haven't done separate posts yet for my final books but I have entered them all in the lists back in messages 20 through 28.

Yay!

142juliette07
Dec 31, 2009, 2:17am Top

Well done Fleur and what a feeling of achievement. I enjoyed looking at your lists! Happy New Year and enjoy your reading in 2010.

143VictoriaPL
Dec 31, 2009, 7:36am Top

excellent. congratulations!

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