Virago Reading Week: 24-30 January, 2011

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Virago Reading Week: 24-30 January, 2011

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Jan 23, 2011, 1:52pm

Virago Reading Week starts tomorrow! Read about it in Rachel's blog post.

I am reading Anderby Wold, and am moving along quickly. I have plenty more VMCs to choose from if I "need" another. :)

Jan 23, 2011, 2:04pm

I am reading Anderby Wold too but not moving as fast as Laura. I will, maybe, when I finish Testament of Friendship which is my goal for this afternoon.

Jan 23, 2011, 2:41pm

I am reading The Life of Death of Harriet Frean by May Sinclair - thanks to a generous giftee here in our lovely group.

Jan 23, 2011, 2:48pm

I have South Riding on the go and A Favourite of the Gods, which I started before Christmas and got half way through but have been neglecting recently (I blame the new Kindle).

Jan 23, 2011, 3:11pm

I was intending to read Anderby Wold or Celia this week but need to read We had it So Good by Linda Grant (no touchstones) first. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy by Virago to review for their new forum so think I had better make the effort!

I suppose I'm still taking part in Virago week- just not with a VMC!

Jan 23, 2011, 3:50pm

Virago reading week is for ALL viragos - you don't just have to read VMCs, don't worry!

I am so happy to read such enthusiasm and I am excited to be co hosting this week! If anyone doesn't have a blog but still wants their reading or comments on a book mentioned, please do email me or send me a librarything message and I'll make sure you get a mention. I am Rachel of Book Snob, by the way!

Jan 23, 2011, 5:11pm

I have The Story of an African Farm on the top of my "library pile", but I'm eyeing Her People by Kathleen Dayus (one of my secret santa gifts from the lovely LyzzyBee).

Jan 23, 2011, 6:03pm

Oh! And I continue Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys, a Virago/Beacon Traveler - a few pages a day eventually reads a book. This is one of my lesser favorites in the series so far, but it's not bad at all.

Jan 23, 2011, 6:14pm

Have just begun All Passion Spent.

Also, extremely belatedly, I have begun blogging about Love Letters Between A Nobleman And His Sister. The first post is here. Just a word of warning, the first two posts are about the background to the novel's writing, but beyond that there is spoiler-heavy discussion of the text.

Jan 23, 2011, 6:26pm

Thank you, once again, Rachel of Book Snob!!!

South Riding is in my queue to begin Monday morning. I have a guilty indulgent Alice Hoffman to finish and then there's Downton Abbey tonight!!

Jan 23, 2011, 6:39pm

This weekend i got a head start on Devoted Ladies; can't wait for the week to begin! I've got plenty to choose from after this one. i'll be blogging about it here:

Edited: Jan 24, 2011, 9:16am

I don't really have a blog, though I do have a website for my business (dance), and could maybe make a page to blog. That probably wouldn't happen this week, anyway though. I'll enjoy participating here if no where else.

I am reading, and near to finishing, South Riding, and am in the middle of Travels in West Africa, a Virago Traveller, so will participate with those two. I am writing right now from an an iPad, which doesn't have brackets in its typing options, so I'll have to add touchstones tomorrow....

1/24/11 -- Came back and put 'em in!

Jan 23, 2011, 9:35pm

Dee, I'm really anxious to know how you're liking Travels in West Africa! it's such a monster that you must be enjoying it or you wouldn't still be reading it. In fact, I'm off to your 75 thread to see whether you're commenting!

Jan 23, 2011, 10:05pm

sqdancer; The Story of an African Farm is beyond wonderful and

lyzard; All Passion Spent is likewise wonderful.

You will both enjoy/appreciate those reads.

I am reading Emma and will continue that for 'Virago Reading Week: 24-30 January, 2011'. If I finish that I will move on to Sense and Sensibility. I am, as always, looking forward to a week of only Viragos.
There is also a Read-a-thon going on Monday to Tuesday, so I may pick up something light for that 24 hour period, but will attempt to keep it a Virago.
I love these and you have my thanks also, BPM, for hostessing the week and as I do not blog I will just post my reads here if that suits.
Thank you,

Jan 24, 2011, 2:44am

Ooh marvellous - I'm already reading Isabella Bird's Unbeaten Tracks in Japan and South Riding!!

Jan 24, 2011, 5:02am

As well as the Virago print copies I've got Three Weeks on my Kindle to read, and as I carry the Kindle around with me instead of real books these days that's what I'll be reading at work, during tea and lunch breaks.

Jan 24, 2011, 9:39am

I've set aside my non-VMC reading for the week and have started Cullum, that may be all I can manage this week, though we'll see!

Jan 24, 2011, 1:05pm

i just finished and posted a review of Keane's Loving Without Tears. Now I'll alternate between China to Me by Hahn and The New House by Lettice Cooper.

Jan 24, 2011, 1:41pm

China to Me sounds fascinating Elaine. I can't wait to hear what you have to say about it. It also sounds like it is a beautifully drawn book. Enjoy.

I hope everyone enjoys this week of Virago. I always love them so much. Am staying with my granddaughters again as dad is out of town on business once more, and I have packed my bag with several Viragoes, as you never know what may or may not hit your fancy at the time. I am currently reading Emma, but could use a little break from her. She can get rather tiresome. I would like to see her do something just plain 'bad' before I leave her. LOL!~!

Jan 24, 2011, 2:05pm

Inspired by virago reading week in january and seeing an entire shelf full of unread green-spined beauties, I decided to make january my all virago all the time reading month.
I have read 5 so far:
One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes…A lovely portrait of post war England.
The Loved and Envied by Enid Bagnold…Could not make myself care for the characters, but stuck it through to the end of the odd little story.
Women Against Men by Storm Jameson…I found these three novels of women and the men in their life particularly striking.
Loving Without Tears by Molly Keane (M.J.Farrell)…This was my third novel by Molly Keane. My first being Devoted Ladies which I absolutely hated. Truly. My second was The Rising Tide and I was pleasantly surprised. And so, it was with much trepidation that I approached this third novel by her. I found her characters well done all round and the story intriguing and charming. Perhaps Ms. Keane and I just got off on the wrong foot? Makes me want to give Devoted Ladies another chance.
Mr. Fortune’s Maggot…Now I always struggle when a book is solely devoted to the characters of men and there is not a woman in sight, or if there is, it’s only a brief glance at a woman. This one, while I didn’t love it, kept my interest throughout and I found the characters strange and wonderful in their own way.
And now I have started reading A Stricken Field by Martha Gellhorn…having only just started, I can’t say much about it (not that I do anyway) other than it is war time Prague. And I am anxious to discover Martha’s writing in her own right instead of always thinking of her as one of Hemingway’s wives.

Jan 24, 2011, 2:21pm

I have ever loved anything by Martha Gellhorn but my favorite is probably The Weather in Africa. She doesn't write just like everyone else and it always takes me a bit to get into her but I 'always' get into her.

Jan 24, 2011, 3:52pm

I also loved The Weather in Africa and Mr Fortune's Maggot.

For this week I am reading Roman Fever by Edith Wharton.

Edited: Jan 24, 2011, 4:11pm

I just read, in Persephone's 15 January newsletter, that Wild Oak Academy's Blogspot has an impressive list of FREE downloadable VMCs and Persephones.

On the site, she also mentions our Virago Collection Tracker. It's posted by 'Kristine'. Hmmm, is this our KMRoy??? Thank you so much for this excellent list!! (Now how much memory does my kindle have????)

Jan 24, 2011, 4:10pm

Here's another excellent source of Virago Authors (complete with links to wikipedia) on Carolyn's Blog.

Jan 24, 2011, 6:30pm

Bleuroses - yes, that's my site. After discovering the collection tracker this past week I was able to add sooo many more titles to the list that I'd missed initially. I'm pretty sure it's still not complete, but I got tired of hunting down books. :-)

Jan 24, 2011, 8:35pm

>25 KMRoy:: wait. KMRoy -- you're Carolyn? Oh how fun to make the connection. I'm loving Virago Reading Week so far!

Jan 24, 2011, 8:39pm


KMRoy (Kristine) is Wild Oak Academy - post 23;

Carolyn is A Few of My Favourite Things - post 24

Edited: Jan 24, 2011, 9:09pm

>27 bleuroses:: ah, thanks for clarifying! I missed #23 somehow.

Jan 25, 2011, 5:50am

I am currently reading:

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
My Antonia by Willa Cather

Jan 25, 2011, 8:41am

I finally succumbed to peer pressure and checked a copy of South Riding out of the college library. I started reading it yesterday.

Jan 25, 2011, 12:53pm

>30 rbhardy3rd:: woo hoo !
And that reminds me, forgive me if I posted this elsewhere: the Monthly Author Reads group is reading Winifred Holtby in February.

Jan 25, 2011, 3:19pm

I'm a little late to this party, but I made it! My secret santa gave me The Gentlewomen by Laura Talbot and that is what I am reading. What a name! Miss Bolby. Oh la! I hope to read it in one week, though I haven't gotten terribly far yet and I have a feeling it will be a bit of a flinch flinch read.....

Jan 25, 2011, 3:29pm

I certainly won't finish the 550 pages of South Riding in one week, but I think I can have it done before the television version in May!

Jan 25, 2011, 8:51pm

>33 rbhardy3rd:: Oh I don't know, Rob ... I found it so engrossing I didn't want to do anything but read it. If you become similarly entranced you'll finish it in no time.

Jan 25, 2011, 10:33pm

Well, I thought I'd make an effort to write a a few thoughts about my own personal Virago Reading Week so far. I don't think it has any spoilers about South Riding, though it does mention a few specific things about characters. Here goes:

I remember a description of Winifred Holtby describing her as being divided between devoting time to social and political issues and devoting time to writing novels. In South Riding, she bridged that divide, illustrating social issues while not perhaps giving answers for them, while creating a work of literary art. Perhaps it is that tension, the quality of division in character, that makes the characters and the action feel so human, what gives the novel its strong resonance. Its clarity of character interplay with social ideas is powerful, but the narrator never lets characters be caricatures. There is almost always a presentation of redeeming or mitigating qualities for characters, sometimes just when that character seemed on the edge of being undivided in focus and heading toward caricature (Alfred Huggins, Madame Hubbard, and Mavis Carne are some examples of that).

The work is a model of writing a novel, showing how themes can be explored and illustrated in such differing ways through narrative action. It gives dramatic episodes, often very efficiently written so having poetic cadence and resonance, all which link into an overarching structure reflecting an agenda of local government. That allows the book to speak about social issues in a broad way while not ever presenting the issues in a theoretical way. Public Health, Mental Deficiency, and Housing and Town Planning are all addressed, but in so many facets and through so many characters that very little preaching by the omniscient narrator happens.

I wish I could write this kind of book about my own home town. (Maybe it will kindle a fire of wanting and trying to do so....) It is critical of place and cultural heritage, dispassionate and not sentimental in familiarity, while loving and being rooted in it. One of the characters, Sarah Burton, by the end, feels a kinship with all the people of the community, and this, perhaps, is the impulse that brings one to care about local government, to care about social issues, to care about how others are treated and that they not be mistreated. The big, overriding issues ultimately are personal issues.

So after finishing South Riding, I'm getting back into Travels in West Africa. I think the readings are actually complimentary to one another. Both address social concerns and perceptions, but Mary Kingsley seems to me quite unrooted in place, and goes out on adventures in search of important undocumented information and who finds insight by observing previously unexperienced culture and lifeways.

Read on, brave readers, read on!

Edited: Jan 25, 2011, 11:28pm

I've said this a few times in wrong places, but I have finished Anderby Wold and enjoyed it very much. It's not South Riding, but I could see the later Holtby in this one. Now I'm off to the Dolomites - I don't think I'm ever going to get out! Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys is not my favorite V/B Traveler, but it's not a chore either. I don't know where I'll travel next, but my next VMC is The Willow Cabin. Yay!
(And it's Jen who's reading Mary Kingsley and not Dee. Sorry. I'm considering that tome next because I have the Kingsley biography too, but it's a real chunkster.)

Edited: Jan 26, 2011, 4:53pm

I have posted my review for Virago Reading Week over at my 75 Book Challenge thread:

All Passion Spent.

I will copy it here if people think that is more appropriate.

The review is perhaps a bit spoilerish, but I'm not sure you can really spoil this novel, which is hardly about its plot.

Jan 26, 2011, 7:28am

>35 outrageoussocks:: a fine review there, socks.

Edited: Jan 26, 2011, 9:38am

Message 37: Everyone who has read All Passion Spent run, don't walk, and read lyzard's review. Brilliant.

Jan 26, 2011, 7:34am

I'm joining in with he many people reading South Riding and it's a great read so far. I think it's brilliant that there are so many different characters and yet I feel like I know them all, even if it's only a nodding acquaintance.

Jan 26, 2011, 10:46am

I have two non-Virago review books and a totally compelling historical novel (again not Virago) on the go - I did read South Riding earlier this month and will carry on reading Viragos through the year.

I'm very envious of those of you who've received We Had it So Good and will be in line for more new Viragos and VMCs, I applied for the First Look group but don't seem to have got lucky.

Jan 26, 2011, 10:56am

I finished Anderby Wold last night and will now be reading One Fine Day. I'm lovin' Virago Reading Week!

Edited: Jan 26, 2011, 11:15am

Two marvelous reviews! Thank you! After I read All Passion Spent I kept recommending and foisting it on everyone I met (back in the 80's) and no one felt about it the way I did and do. It is beyond words to find this community!

Meanwhile, I am reading The Gentlewomen. It's Wednesday, I'm noting and I'm not even out of the first section (aptly named The Beginning) p.47. It's an intriguing book, I can't say I'm loving it, but I am very interested. Talbot is someone who really studied the nuances of the 'rankings' of the Peerage -- the higher you go, too, the more seemingly blase you are about social stuff, except, if someone treads over whatever invisible social boundary you have laid down. As an unexpected guest, of Lady Rushford's, (due to fog) Lady Archie, married to the younger brother of a Marquess, notes in the bedroom she has been assigned that Lady R. for all her own casual ways, uses her 'coronet' on the linens and bed-hangings. "She can, so why not?" But it is a remark with many many shades of meaning. By all these standards, Miss Bolby really is well-connected, not pretending to be anything she isn't, but her belief in 'the system' imprisons her to this one occupation, being a governess, even as late as 1940! Bolby is 58 and simply cannot make the adjustment and doesn't have the flexibility to see that the war has changed everything forever. She makes me think too, of Lily Bart -- if she had lived on. The interactions between people are what make the book, odd, musical, and sort of poetic dialogue that is nonetheless strangely 'real'. But I had better get cracking, eh?

Edited: Jan 26, 2011, 11:17am

>41 elkiedee:
You can have my copy of We had it So Good when I've read it, if you like- though I do realise that's not quite the same!

Jan 26, 2011, 11:58am

A lovely post from Rachel on her blog....Women, Writing and Difference

Jan 26, 2011, 12:15pm

That is a great and inspiring Virago post. Thanks for alerting me (us)!

Edited: Jan 26, 2011, 12:39pm

>36 LizzieD: -- Don't let the size of Travels in West Africa be too offputting. I put it down and picked it back up again a few times over the course of my reading it, which I'm still doing. It's rather suited to that -- I'm not sure I would enjoy a straight-through reading as much as I'm enjoying taking it in episodes.

Here's just a snippet from what I was reading this morning about Kingsley's interactions with a tribe she names "Fans," rather notorious for being cannibals:

"A certain sort of friendship rose up between the Fans and me. We each recognized that we belonged to that same section of the human race with whom it is better to drink than to fight. We know we would each have killed the other, and so we took a certain amount of care that the inducement would not arise."

>38 lauralkeet: Thanks!

On to look at the new blog post, too, so echoed thanks.

Edited to add: P.S. I think I want to find a Kingsley biography to read alongside, now....that seems like a great idea. Wish there were photos of these things, beyond the ones in her book, which don't show her.

Jan 26, 2011, 1:11pm

44: Thank you kindly Dee, I may well take you up on that offer, depending on how long the library copies take to come in - two boroughs have 5 copies between them on order. I don't know if I have anything in my RISI/Bookmooch/ new home needed pile that could tempt you (I have yet to get round to listing it)

Jan 26, 2011, 2:28pm

Still reading Emma and Alice Hoffman's one Virago; Seventh Heaven as well. I am finding that I do not wish to read Emma straight through without some other fodder in between the reading spells.

Jan 26, 2011, 2:48pm

48: Please do have it, Luci- it shouldn't take much longer to finish. I have mixed feelings about it, actually- it's not going to be an easy one to review!

There's no need to send me anything but I probably won't be able to resist browsing your list when it's up! Do you have the same books on Bookmooch as RISI?

Jan 26, 2011, 4:03pm

Ta so much. I have a few books up on both that no one has been interested in, but I'm planning to go for one or the other with most of them this time. I got into a bit of a fight with someone on RISI because I posted a bit late with one of my last swaps, and I'm a bit nervous about going there at all, but I'll list a couple of things for a few days and see if there's anything really good on offer, and then take them down if there's no interest.

Jan 26, 2011, 4:29pm

>51 elkiedee::That's a shame about RISI. Most book swappers have busy lives and are not book sellers! I think most people are flexible but a few have such rigid expectations, I wonder why they don't just go express delivery from Amazon!

I'm also a member of Bookhopper which is a little weird but I quite like it! There's not usually much of a choice but I have found some gems there including a VMC edition of Thank Heaven Fasting in fantastic condition and a non-Persephone edition of Little Boy Lost. People are definitely more relaxed about waiting for books to arrive- I think they need to be because the swap isn't agreed between both of you at the time. You post your library and then if someone requests a book from it, you have to send it. The thing people get narky about is other people requesting a lot more books than they've posted out which is actually within the rules as long as you've listed enough books in your library!

I haven't joined Bookmooch but I have thought about it!

If you PM me your address, I'll post We Had It So Good to you once it's read and reviewed...

Jan 26, 2011, 4:53pm

>>39 Liz1564: and 43 Thank you both very much. I have taken Laura's suggestion and posted my review on the work's page.

Jan 26, 2011, 6:52pm

After finishing Devoted Ladies, I started Harriet Hume this morning, and am about halfway through already (although I'm having to go back and re-read things here and there). Rebecca West's prose style is bizarre, but in a good way!

Jan 26, 2011, 7:24pm

>53 lyzard:: thanks lyzard! Thumbed!

Jan 26, 2011, 7:25pm

Eeeee!!! I'm so excited! :)

Edited: Jan 26, 2011, 8:44pm

It was a lovely, peaceful day at the winery with very few customers. In taking advantage of this, I sat in the sun under blue California skies and began South Riding. It was the perfect setting to fall into Holtby's brilliantly written, good-natured story. How funny and quite modern they are!

#47, RE: Mary Kingsley - Jen, there is a wonderful fictional account of Kingsley in Hello to the Cannibals by Richard Bausch. The books jumps between the mid 1980's and a young woman who writes a play about Kingsley - then to Mary's life starting with a diary entry in 1876. It's very well done, and I've read it twice!

Jan 27, 2011, 2:33am

I'm still reading South Riding and loving it, but I don't think I'll have it finished this week as I've got loads of work on in my business and it's cutting into my reading time!!

Jan 27, 2011, 5:02am

I've just finished one of my Christmas presents from Paola, Manhattan, When I was Young by Mary Cantwell. I didn't know this was a VMC till I looked it up on the works page!

Thanks Paola for a really nice reminder of New York City! Mary Cantwell was a writer for Mademoiselle in the 1950s then later a member of the editorial writing team on the New York Times. This is her memoir of life in the West Village from when she left college until her divorce in the 1960s. If you've lived in New York, especially around that area, I recommend it. There's also a lot in it about her depression, grief at her father's death, and dependence on her husband. I found those bits harder to read.

Jan 27, 2011, 5:34am

I have finished Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton and done my review. I am still reading My Antonia by Willa Cather and have also just started The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton which i am enjoying better than Ethan Frome not that i disliked Ethan Frome - I just like The House of Mirth better :)

Jan 27, 2011, 6:37am

I've almost finished South Riding now. For all its size it's a galloping swift read. I'll be sad to leave Winifred Holtby's Yorkshire behind.

Jan 27, 2011, 8:56am

I'm really enjoying South Riding, but thanks to my recent brush with Faulkner, I keep imagining Midge Carne finding herself inside The Sound and the Fury as the result of some sort of fictional magnetism that draws together blue-blooded children with mental health issues and invalid mothers who inhabit richly-imagined fictional counties with a strong regional flavor.

Edited: Jan 27, 2011, 1:12pm

>57 bleuroses: Thanks for the suggestion, Cate. I saw a copy of Hello to the Cannibals on my local library network catalog and wasn't sure about it, but since it has your recommendation, I'll request it to check it out. Sounds like a juxtaposition of situations that I would enjoy and have a little insight about due to my recent reading.

>62 rbhardy3rd: I'd bet on Midge getting the upper hand on Benjy and all if she found herself there. Heaven help the residents of Yoknapatawpha. The parallels and similarities between the two books are interesting to consider, and show an intriguing contrast, maybe not all that far away from each other.

Jan 27, 2011, 1:31pm

Thomas at My Porch Blog is hosting a Virago Reading Week Givaway!

Rob, that's spot on with Midge!

Jen - On my second reading of Hello to the Cannibals, I actually only reread the alternating chapters on Mary Kingsley which, I think, stand alone for its own story.

Jan 27, 2011, 5:40pm

There's a little tribute to this group and its lovely members (also featuring my dog) here.

Sorry I couldn't mention everyone, but I'd have had to stay up all night and I'm tired!

Jan 27, 2011, 5:57pm

Rest, Fleur, rest. Your eyes are getting very, very heavy. Zonk, you are out and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Enjoy. ;-)

I finally finished Emma. So happy and much less stressed as B/C is this evening. Whew!~!
Still reading Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman and enjoying it.
Don't know what I will pick up next. Have decided to put off South Riding until next month.

I need to learn to blog. Seriously......................

Jan 27, 2011, 7:22pm

Despite my comments about Emma (via Alain de Botton) I loved the book. Particularly as it was my last Austen and I found a Penguin copy while traveling in Turkey and read it, on the road, and far from England. I am still reading Roman Fever, which I selected for absolutely no reason except my eye alighted on it. So far it is excellent but I have been dragged away to shovel snow almost daily and have been falling into bed too exhausted to think most evenings.

Jan 27, 2011, 7:34pm

And just in time in lots of ways, I've finished Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys! Not a moment too soon. Only my dedication to the Virago/Beacon brand kept me going after a couple of hundred pages, which should tell you another couple of things about me.
Rob, I'm so happy that somebody else moves characters from one book to another. My favorite speculation was to match Ronald Merrick from *The Raj Quartet* with Pamela Widmerpool from *Dance to the Music of Time,* my two favorite series of all time. I don't care whether he moved to her book or she moved to his, there would have been some fireworks.

Edited: Jan 27, 2011, 9:13pm

Here's another post from Haley Anderton, my friend on FB who hasn't taken the plunge for LT.......yet! Desperate Reader, Virago, not just for Christmas.....

Jan 28, 2011, 12:12am

#65 Jane! I was catching up on all the wonderful blog posts and just read yours. Absolutely lovely and thank you so much! I left a comment on your blog. It is so wonderful to see our little Briar again!!

Jan 28, 2011, 2:49am

#65 Lovely post, Jane!

Jan 28, 2011, 8:44am

I left a comment too. I must say that you flattered me! Thank you!

Jan 28, 2011, 1:26pm

I don't know if I would go so far as to say that I loved Emma but once I was able to fixate on her sense of humor (and she has quite a sense of humor), I did actually enjoy the book. I thought things came to a nicely desired (for Emma) bundle waaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooooooo quickly at the end as opposed to the speed with which the previous part of the book was written but I did enjoy it and this is one that I know I will enjoy even more upon a re-read.
wee wet rock

Jan 28, 2011, 1:56pm

Am now reading Sense and Sensibility to finish off the Virago week. I will be starting, again, South Riding, as well when I get back home as Winifred Holtby has been chosen for February's Author of the Month.

Edited: Jan 29, 2011, 12:37pm

I'm in the home stretch of The Gentlewomen -- it's a very very good book, not a comfortable read but with flashes of real brilliance and social acuity.

Oh and have to add -- very interesting to read it just after reading Helen Humphries The Lost Garden -- yet another 'big house' in decay during the war, both the sort of grand houses that used to have as many as 25-30 gardeners to keep up the grounds and gardens, some of them real specialists. Both serious books but with such a different mood to them! But both focussed, too, on women who have somehow 'missed out'.

Edited: Jan 29, 2011, 4:40pm

># 75:
The Lost Garden went immediately onto my wish list. When you say "yet another 'big house' in decay during the war"; I have to ask: do you have a list? This sounds like another perfect read for me. Does The Gentlewomen follow that preface as well?
thank you dear,

Oh, and I do just wish to add that where it took me about 80 pages in to catch my stride with Emma, that Sense and Sensibility sucked me in right from the get go.
And also, for those who do not know:
There is a year long 'Austen-a-Thon' going on over on the 75 book gig. It is being hostessed by allcottacre and they are reading one book every two months in order of publication. (I was reading Emma for my R/L B/C) So Sense and Sensibility is their first read, to be completed by end of February............if any of you would like to join us in reading Austen this year.
ta ta for now,

Jan 29, 2011, 5:12pm

I finished my two books for the week: Anderby Wold and One Fine Day. Both were wonderful, and in different ways just what we've come to expect from Viragos.

Jan 29, 2011, 5:24pm

I am a SLOW reader, and only finished the very first section of South Riding this week. It was a busy week, and I'm also absorbed in Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945.

Tonight I'm finally going to see The King's Speech, at the VIP Theatre at the Mall of America, which features luxurious recliners and food and drink (including beer and wine) delivered to your seat. And on LTER I just "snagged" Henrietta Sees It Through. So I'm deep in a 1940s wartime mood.

Edited: Jan 29, 2011, 5:39pm

Not a very successful reading week for me as far as Viragos. I finished Three Weeks but South Riding was too much for me. Family illness left me unable to concentrate on anything but light reading. My usual comfort read The Diary of a Provincial Lady was good for dipping into but the other (thin) books I finished weren't Viragos.

Jan 29, 2011, 5:32pm

Belva -- I probably could foment a list 'big houses in decay' -- favorites who come to mind off-hand are Elizabeth Bowen, Mollie Keane, Nancy Mitford, Mary Wesley, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, H.E. Bates -- not all are about specific 'big houses' but many have houses and social structures falling apart all around them - I feel that at least half of Virago books tackle this topic, even Thirkell does, albeit very very gently. There are even a few American writers who tackled this topic in the US -- John Marquand is a favorite of mine and I know there are others..... but now I am drawing a blank. Weigh in my Virago friends!

My favorite character in The Gentlewomen is Lizbeth, the harried Lady Rushford.

Jan 29, 2011, 6:01pm

Dear Lucy

So glad you enjoyed The Gentlewomen....

I have been a very slow reader this week with my Viragos....I've been going out buying them rather than reading !!!

30-40 gardeners!!! I dream of having one!

The Man of Wrath hacked and sawed his way through our jungle on Australia Day this week bless him - it was worth it...he's found a bunch of bananas in one of our neglected clumps. I can now walk out to the clothesline out the back with relative ease and the guinea pigs can see their lunch rather than drowning in it.

Jan 29, 2011, 7:42pm

># 81:
Is that a quote or do we have a new 'Man of Wrath'? I love that term and I loved the way she called her 'babies' April baby, May baby and June baby.

Edited: Jan 30, 2011, 3:28am

rainpebble - At great risk to my own well being I am sending you this photo of the Man of Wrath....he would be very cross if he found he is ostensibly reading the paper....but really - inter-weaved between the pages are my next credit card bill - with which he can torture me with attacks on unnecessary expenditure such as books, perfume and ...yes....allright...wool....I am a woman with many faults....and he is the only one brave enough to point them out to me on regular occasions....I don't take criticism well at all....another of my faults....

My August Baby and my December Baby are the only things that bravely take stance between the Man of Wrath, the Credit Card Bill and would help if merchants didn't have such give-away names as Tangled Yarns or Avid Reader or Libertine....he would be much more accommodating if they had innocuous names like UMart - his own favourite computer paradise.

Jan 30, 2011, 7:09am

>83 alexdaw:: I love this message, it's a modern-day vonArnim adaptation!

Jan 30, 2011, 10:38am

Very well done, Alex!

Jan 30, 2011, 8:00pm

Finished Roman Fever which was short stories, many about adultery in the era before and after the First World War and a pretty constant theme in Wharton's work. Not her best work by any means but enjoyable nonetheless.

Jan 30, 2011, 8:25pm

I am not going to finish The Gentlewomen today -- a combination of various distractions...... but I've enjoyed the thread and hearing other Virago adventures.

Love the pic and the anecdotes about Man of Wrath!

Edited: Jan 30, 2011, 9:43pm

83 & 84....and our provincial lady, E. M. Delafield!!

ETA - Alex, your dear Man of Wrath is now an honorary male member of our group, HOWEVER, we promise to keep it close!!

Edited: Jan 30, 2011, 9:51pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jan 30, 2011, 9:51pm

I absolutely loved the tale of your 'Man of Wrath', your August and December babies, and just all of it including the photo. hee hee.
Very well done, I say....... Very well done!~!
I probably will never be able to read an Elizabeth von Arnim again without thinking of you and your tale. Just love it.
hugs & thanks for the giggles,

Jan 30, 2011, 9:52pm

Sorry, duplicate post. My bad.

Edited: Jan 31, 2011, 9:32am

>80 sibylline: I remember reading an essay about "Big House" novels some time ago, particularly focusing on Irish Lit, including Molly Keane, Elizabeth Bowen, and others, I think. I will try to see if I still have a copy of it or can remember more about it. I remember referring to it when I was writing about The Ante-Room, which also takes place in a big house.

edited to try to make touchstones active

Jan 31, 2011, 2:01am

Just at the very end of the week I finished A Favourite of the Gods. I started this back in November and was happily whizzing through but then stoppped mid-way. I can't remember why. The second half was just as entertaining but I found myself waiting for 'something' to happen, but really it just went on until the death of one of the main characters. The author seemed to have decided that this was as good a point to stop as any. And did.

Jan 31, 2011, 2:15am

Excellent Alex!

Pleased to have read my single Virago The Life and Death of Harriet Frean and have so very much enjoyed reading this thread and links!! Thank you everyone.

Jan 31, 2011, 6:13am

93: I really enjoyed A Favourite of the Gods - I reread it last year, along with A Compass Error which is the story of the daughter.

I have to share that the woman next to me on the tube to work this morning was reading South Riding (the new VMC edition). It wasn't any of you, was it?

Jan 31, 2011, 6:20am

95: Not guilty, I finished mine last week. I do wonder when I see people reading certain books if it's anyone here; I'll have to start paying more attention and asking here!

Jan 31, 2011, 11:02am

So, I think the week is still on today. There is NO WAY I will be finishing Travels in West Africa as I'm only halfway through and it has 700+ pages. I am enjoying it, but really want to get to the section I see that is later on concerning "fetish," a word Mary Kingsley uses describing native religious traditions and practices.

However, I discovered this wonderful image of Kingsley that I really love and wanted to try to post it.

Also, if Winifred Holtby is going to be "Author of the Month" for February, I'm in with Land of Green Ginger, the other book by her that I happen to have. I'll interrupt Kingsley in that activity, if need be, and come back again.

Jan 31, 2011, 12:48pm

Since I had to get another copy of South Riding due to the font being too small for me, I will be re-starting tomorrow for Holtby's Author of the Month read and it shall most likely take all month. LOL!~!
Am a little more than 3/4 of the way to the end of Sense and Sensibility. I started the Virago Reading Week with Emma and will finish tonight with 'S & S'. I will hate to see this one end; I am enjoying that much.

What a wonderful title that: Land of Green Ginger. Is it another travel book? And I love the plate above. What wonderful artwork.

Edited: Jan 31, 2011, 4:16pm

Cross-posted from the Persephone Readers group:

As Virago Reading Week comes to a close, verityjdo and I have formally announced our next blogging event devoted to Persephone Books:

Instead of a week this time we are shortening it to a long weekend. Please pop over to both of our blogs in a few weeks and participate in reading those grey books we love so much. If any of you would like us to post us a Persephone review or Persephone-related post on your behalf then feel free to email us.

I hope to read some highly-anticipated Persephone books over the weekend and my only issue is choosing between those vying for my attention. At present, those calling the loudest to me are Greenery Street and The Home-Maker.

Jan 31, 2011, 9:48pm

Thank you so much to everyone who took part in Virago Reading Week! I hope you all agree that it was a wonderful experience and all of your enthusiasm and participation was much appreciated! Here's to next year!

Jan 31, 2011, 11:03pm

Thank you, Rachel. It was lovely! And I'm saying goodbye to the week by starting Uncommon Arrangements on the very last day. It's going to be a good one!

Jan 31, 2011, 11:25pm

>98 rainpebble: You have a point, the Land of Green Ginger sounds like a travel book, but is actually a novel by Winifred Holtby, earlier than South Riding. I was always interested to read the Travellers, but never devoted much time to them. It's funny how these themes are weaving in and out of each other, even including Big House novels, which there is an element of in South Riding, I think.

Glad you like the image; I think it's just right for her somehow.

Feb 1, 2011, 12:21am

#100 .....Thank you, Rachel! I think this was the most lively Virago week ever! Your work (along with your co-host Carolyn's) is so appreciated! Viva Viragos!

Edited: Feb 1, 2011, 12:30am

The cover of my copy of The Land of Green Ginger - another gorgeous woodblock print.

An excerpt from the back cover..

"Winifred Holtby wrote The Land of Green Ginger after a brief visit to South Africa. It is the tale of a woman's yearning to travel to exotic places. Joanna marries a young man who tells her he has been given the world as a golden ball to wear on a chain; she believes their life will be an adventure. Indeed it is, but not what she dreamed of. This book, first published in 1928, is well written and filled with compassion."

Feb 5, 2011, 9:55am

That one is on the way to me from *somewhere*, Cate. I plan to dive into it when it gets here. I doubt it will have such a lovely cover tho'.

Feb 5, 2011, 11:48am

Just posting my review of South Riding, a bit late but much enjoyed.

Feb 6, 2011, 3:51am

Just finished The Lacquer Lady.....just loved it!!!