All Virago/All August/2016

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All Virago/All August/2016

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Jul 21, 2016, 11:22 am

I wondered whether folks were keen to have our annual celebratory month of reading Viragos again this year?

Personally, I'm hoping to catch up with my Dorothy Richardson reading which has slipped behind, and I also have a very fat Edith Wharton volume waiting!

Jul 21, 2016, 2:48 pm

Ooh, which Wharton? I love her.

I don't usually "do" AVAA but I enjoy following the festivities.

Jul 21, 2016, 4:23 pm

Hudson River Bracketed! It looks big, but since I'm nearing the end of 600 pages of Dostoevsky it should be a cinch....

I don't restrict myself to Viragos in August, but I'll try to focus on some from my collection - and catch up with Richardson! :)

Edited: Jul 21, 2016, 5:09 pm

I'll definitely be taking part this year. I have a load of Viragos at the top of my to read pile. This is partly a consequence of going to a conference recently on British women writers between 1930 and 1960 and becoming newly inspired to pick up my VMCs by those authors!

I am currently reading Storm Jameson's Love in Winter, the second of her Mirror in Darkness trilogy. I am much more engaged with this one than with the first in the series. I'm finding Hervey easier to understand and respond to in this book. Also listening to the wonderful Gill Plain talk (and then going on to read one and a bit of her books) has helped with my understanding of what the book is saying about the interwar years.

Jul 21, 2016, 7:18 pm

I've been doing better this year reading VMCs than past years, and I wouldn't mind putting a focus in August to read 3 or 4. These are some of the ones I'm considering for next month:
The Song of the Lark
Frenchman's Creek
No Signposts in the Sea
Hudson River Bracketed
A View of the Harbor
Millennium Hall
Summer Will Show
The Return of the Soldier
Memento Mori
The Life and Death of Harriet Frean

Jul 21, 2016, 7:51 pm

>3 kaggsy: hmm I have it but that's one I haven't read yet!

Jul 21, 2016, 8:03 pm

I'm up for a Virago or two. Not sure which ones yet. If I find my list I'll report back.

Edited: Jul 22, 2016, 4:41 am

>4 Soupdragon: I struggled with the first Storm Jameson but I would like to return to her, so it's good to know the series improves.

>5 LisaMorr: That's a nice list - I really must read The Return of the Soldier too.

>6 lauralkeet: I've read little Wharton, Laura, but this one sounds fascinating.

Jul 22, 2016, 2:40 am

I'm definitely in! I've got a good few Viragoes and all fat ones, from Verity's clearout a while ago, and am thrilled to say that Hudson River Bracketed is among them! I'm doing a 20 Books of Summer challenge again this year but threw a couple of Viragoes into the mix and should get a few more done, too. Might even take a photo later ...

Jul 22, 2016, 3:23 am

>8 kaggsy: I would definitely recommend giving Love in Winter a go. I am loving it in a way that I didn't love Company Parade (which I admired but felt distant from).

But I don't know how much that is to do with it being a better or more readable novel and how much I've been fired with enthusiasm by Gill Plain and her "decoding" of war and interwar novels!

>1 kaggsy: >2 lauralkeet: I picked up a couple of Wharton VMCs that I didn't already have in Chichester last week, so she's also on my radar for AVAA. Probably won't be a chunkster though...

Jul 22, 2016, 4:41 am

>10 Soupdragon: I never actually finished Company Parade! Maybe I should try to go back to it in August!

Jul 22, 2016, 5:49 am

>11 kaggsy: Or if you have a copy of Love in Winter try that instead?

I don't remember much about Company Parade and I don't think it's affected my reading of Love in Winter.

Jul 22, 2016, 7:06 am

>12 Soupdragon: I think I have the whole trilogy, Dee - I'll have to check. But maybe I do just need to skip the first book!

Jul 22, 2016, 7:30 am

I'm planning on combining AV/AA with my 75-book ROOTs goal. In fact, I can even combine AV/AA with August RTT's theme of Journeys because one of my Virago TBRs is Susanna Strickland Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush.

Jul 22, 2016, 8:11 am

If I can read Persephones as part of it, I'm in. Every year I think I am done with my VMCs - read all the ones I want to read etc - and every year I find at least two that I've over looked that are wonderful!

Edited: Jul 22, 2016, 8:20 am

>13 kaggsy: Well if you don't enjoy the second in the series, you can safely give up there!

>14 CurrerBell: I think I'm 12 books from my 50-book ROOT goal and hadn't thought about it before but yes, reading Viragos should help towards meeting it.

Edited: Jul 22, 2016, 8:21 am

>15 romain: We included Persephones last year, didn't we? I think I'll aim to read some too. I'm very bad at reading Persephones. I get so excited with them when they're new and then they just sit together on my shelf looking (very) pretty.

Jul 22, 2016, 9:12 am

I shall be moving in October and thought I would gradually pack my books. I've done one box so far and I started with my Viragos so now I might have to unpack them ready for AV/AA.

Jul 22, 2016, 11:41 am

>8 kaggsy: Thanks - probably doesn't look like any rhyme or reason, BUT, I picked them either because they will help me fill my bingo card in the category challenge or they are on the 1001 list and also meet the AlphaKit for August.

Jul 22, 2016, 1:48 pm

Yes, I read Persephones in AVAA!

And I have a photo of my pile!!! It's at the bottom of this blog post - I don't think I'll get through them all though, do you??

Jul 22, 2016, 2:51 pm

I have several VMCs and Persephones set aside purposely for AV/AA. I always look forward to this.

Edited: Jul 22, 2016, 3:33 pm

I'm in a 'Jane Eyre' immersion this summer - rereading JE and many JE inspired fictions (LOVED Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye!) - so I suppose I'm in as I have the VMC edition of Jane Eyre. Mostly, though, I'll be sharing AVAA up-to-date activity and reviews on the VMCReaders page on FB. Go Viragos! 😉 🌹

Jul 22, 2016, 8:07 pm

Was just thinking that since it was summer, it was time to read another Elizabeth von Arnim, so that will be at least one Virago August book for me. I will be following others' reading though.

Jul 23, 2016, 8:11 am

I have read 59 of my Persephones, out of a possible 117. I have actively disliked 4, and was indifferent to another 4. The other 50 I either liked, liked a lot, or loved. Deduct 11 cooking or gardening books and that leaves... 47?

Just in case you are wondering which ones I loved they are as follows:

Someone at a Distance
Little Boy Lost
A House in the Country
The Village
The Expendable Man
The Squire

Looking at this list I see a pattern. Easy, comfort reads. Hmmmmnnn....

Jul 24, 2016, 12:49 am

>24 romain: But which ones did you actively dislike? We have to know!

Jul 24, 2016, 3:05 am

>24 romain: >25 LyzzyBee:

This has prompted me to look at my own Persephones. I've read around a third which is more than I expected (11/35 actual Persephone editions and 14/40 if I include Persephones I only own in another edition).

I haven't actively disliked any so far. My favourites have been Tea with Mr Rochester, The Crowded Street, Little Boy Lost and The Victorian Chaise-Longue.

Jul 24, 2016, 6:36 am

I have 13 Persephones and have read them all (time to buy more!!). My favorites are Miss Buncle's Book, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Greenbanks, and Someone at a Distance.

Edited: Jul 24, 2016, 7:12 am

>24 romain: & >26 Soupdragon: You've reminded me that I have Little Boy Lost in the TBR piles - I will try to read it soon.

>37 rainpebble: 'time to buy more!!'

Remember, buy two get the third half price! :-)

Jul 24, 2016, 8:16 am

Which ones did I actively dislike? Well... please remember that I am often at odds with this group and others have almost certainly loved these books but...

Mariana - Dickens
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding - Strachey
The Woman Novelist - Gardner
Amours de Voyage - Clough - not huge on poetry and this bored the hell out of me. I did finish it though.

Jul 24, 2016, 8:31 am

As for Rachel Ferguson....

As for Persephones, I absolutely MUST get around to Alas, Poor Lady.

I also want to do a reread of The Brontes Went to Woolworths. I've actually got two copies of this, neither of them the Virago. One is an absolutely gorgeous orange-covered Penguin paperback from 1940 (sun-faded orange dust wrapper with like-new bright orange cover underneath) and the other is a second-edition Ernest Behn hardcover that I got relatively cheap when the market fell out as a result of the Bloomsbury reprint.

Jul 24, 2016, 9:09 am

>29 romain: I liked Mariana, but while I didn't "actively dislike" Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, it didn't do much for me either.

Jul 25, 2016, 4:41 am

I'm looking forward to AV/AA again this year, though I haven't got around to picking my reading list. I may join those of you who are reading Persephones, as I've finally found my copy of Heat lightning which I've been wanting to read for a while now. I have a huge TBR stack of Viragoes, so will start looking through and picking some this week.

Jul 26, 2016, 9:54 am

Just decided to add one more to my list for August - The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim - the random category challenge for August is camping and I didn't think I'd have anything to fit it, but this will be perfect.

Jul 26, 2016, 11:38 am

>33 LisaMorr: That's fun. I'm going camping later in August--I wonder if there is a Virago about people sleeping in a tent. (Maybe I'll just reread Swallows and Amazons).

Jul 26, 2016, 1:42 pm

Jul 27, 2016, 8:46 am

Swallows and Amazons is awesome! Not sure about the new film version though, they seem to have added a lot of stuff that wasn't in the book (as far as I can tell from the trailer).

Jul 27, 2016, 2:10 pm

I am loving all of the activity here on our 2016 AV/AA thread.
Thank you so much, Karen, for picking up the slack within our VMC group. I know all of us appreciate it.

I too, want to take part in this years Virago/Persephone reading and excepting for one, I have chosen what appears to be some lighter reads. With being away from home for a month, house sitting for my ex D-i-L & her hubby, babysitting my 3 great grands (2, 3, & 5 years of age) in her stead and having 1 to 3 children every day as my granddaughters all work different days & shifts, caring for 3 dogs & 1 cat...............I haven't much time for reading. I absolutely collapse when the last child is picked up in the evening, but I am pretty proud that at 69 I still have the energy to just make it through the day with them. And they are precious.

So..............I am going to attempt to read:
Regiment of Women, a Virago fiction gender study,
The Two Mrs. Abbotts, a Persephone; (I really enjoyed the first two in this series),
the Emily Trilogy: Emily of the New Moon, Emily Climbs & Emily's Quest,
Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim, and perhaps a Jane Austen if I've time.
I would like to round out the month by revisiting Jane Eliot's The Lifted Veil.

Enjoy, everyone.

Jul 27, 2016, 3:03 pm

>34 Nickelini: Swallows and Amazons forever!

>37 rainpebble: I'm exhausted just reading about what you are doing! Great projected reading list though.

Jul 28, 2016, 3:57 am

>37 rainpebble: They're amazingly lucky to have you and I'm glad you have the strength to be able to do it and the joy of your large family around you.

Not The Lifted Veil though - eeeewwwww!

Jul 28, 2016, 6:07 am

>37 rainpebble: Wow Belva, that's some achievement - I hope they appreciate your input! Yes, I can understand you wanting lighter reads - I would have no energy left for reading after all that.

As for George Eliot and The Lifted Veil - I've shared some pictures of my Eliot collection on my blog if anyone is interested:

I'm almost tempted to read The Lifted Veil in August to see what all the fuss is about....

Jul 28, 2016, 7:34 am

I have no idea what to read at the moment. I will try and do a couple of duty books that I really don't want to look at. eg: Katherine Mansfield who was ruined for me by High School. I will almost certainly do a Whipple. But at the moment I am at a loss what else.

Jul 28, 2016, 6:08 pm

I started early and finished Greengates yesterday and am half-way through To Bed With Grand Music. I've just realized that I have read most of my Persephones.....sniff.

Jul 28, 2016, 7:37 pm

Well, Elaine, I do know a cure for that..............
I will join in with at least one, but I don't have any idea what it will be. Or, thanks to friends, I could read a Persephone. Love the anticipation!

Jul 29, 2016, 1:27 pm

So I've made my pile, and the books on it are:

Heat lightning by Helen Hull
Fidelity by Susan Glaspell (both Persephones)
The vicar's daughter by E. H. Young
The hours before dawn by Celian Fremlin
A fine of two hundred francs by Elsa Triolet
A compass error by Sybille Bedford and
The gipsy's baby by Rosamond Lehmann

I'm eagerly looking forward to an August of fine reading!

Jul 29, 2016, 1:34 pm

Ooh Fidelity is excellent and I think I've read The Vicar's Daughter, but I do get confused by all of those sorts of titles. I've got the Triolet but haven't read it since the early 90s. Happy reading!

Jul 29, 2016, 5:55 pm

The Hours Before Dawn is excellent and very gripping!

Jul 29, 2016, 9:34 pm

I loved it Karen!

Jul 30, 2016, 6:53 am

I started Katherine Mansfield's The Montana Stories last night. Persephone. Not as bad as I remember from High School :)

Jul 30, 2016, 11:07 am

>48 romain: Studying an author at school is enough to put anyone off, Barbara - but I love Mansfield! :)

Jul 30, 2016, 11:55 am

I recently blogged about my AV/AA plans.

In fact I have started early by picking up Love by Elizabeth von Arnim. Enjoying it a lot.

Jul 31, 2016, 5:35 pm

I'm so happy to see AVAA back for another year! I loved my reading last year and have been contemplating what I will read this August. I'm going to start with The Fortnight in September, continue with South Riding and then probably move on to a Barbara Comyns.

Aug 1, 2016, 2:36 am

>51 anbolyn: Ooh, that's a LOVELY selection!

Aug 1, 2016, 9:58 am

>45 LyzzyBee:, >46 kaggsy: Glad to see words of praise for some of my selections! I'm really looking forward to them.

Started Heat lightning on the train this morning. I like the slow beginning as Amy returns to her small-town home, not quite sure why she's come back.

Aug 1, 2016, 12:31 pm

I'm away from home quite a lot during the first part of August so I shall be reading books that I have kindle copies of. Started August Folly today.

Aug 1, 2016, 10:58 pm

O.K. I've started Family History, so I'm sure that I will read at least this ONE VMC in August. We'll see.

Aug 2, 2016, 7:58 am

I finished The Montana Stories by Katherine Mansfield (Persephone). I started the book wondering when she went to Montana but (silly me) the title refers to Montana in Switzerland where she was in a sanatorium for TB. Liked the book, really enjoyed some of the stories, but wasn't overwhelmed. However, when I read her biography many years ago, I found myself much more interested in the woman than her work.

Aug 2, 2016, 8:49 am

I have already finished Love by Elizabeth Von Arnim which I did begin a little before the 1st August.
Now reading Challenge by Vita Sackville West.

Aug 2, 2016, 11:23 am

I've finished The Lifted Veil - and I liked it!!!!!!

Edited: Aug 2, 2016, 3:39 pm

Yea, Karen! Another reader in my small corner. I found it to be a fascinating study of the human mind & quite identified with the protagonist while my head was in the book. But it has been a few years since now & I feel a re-read is due.
So glad you appreciated The Lifted Veil.

Aug 3, 2016, 4:02 am

I did indeed! I'll review it eventually, but I thought it was fascinating and very gripping!

Aug 5, 2016, 5:46 pm

Finished Joanna by Lisa St Aubin de Teran - loved this, though it's a little dark really. Study in relations between mothers and daughters, and what happens when the relationship is damaged and twisted beyond the point of repair. And it raises issues about mental illness and child abuse. It's not as grim as I've made it sound, and it's beautifully written.

Aug 6, 2016, 2:34 am

I've done my first one, Oberland by Dorothy Richardson, as part of her Pilgrimage series. Oh - the touchstone bringing up the wrong book tells me that it's where The Chalet School was based!! Anyway, a slice (a fifth) of a Virago volume counts, I hope ... On to an Edith Wharton next.

Aug 6, 2016, 3:46 pm

I just completed Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, a piece of Virago fiction and a solid 4 star read for me. I do enjoy Waters writing. She is quite imaginative & her books are always full of jaw dropping surprises for me.

Aug 6, 2016, 4:04 pm

Finished Flush (Persephone) by Virginia Woolf today, a book about which I had zero expectations, and yet a 5* read for me. I loved it!

The book presumes some knowledge of the Barrett/Browning story and it did, therefore, occur to me that some readers might find it confusing. But anyone above a certain age in England grew up with the movie and TV versions of The Barretts of Wimpole Street, the reasons she and Browning were forced to elope, and the role of Flush in her life. Highly recommended! Anyone interested in Barrett should also read Lady's Maid by Margaret Forster.

Aug 6, 2016, 7:27 pm

My first, a Virago/Beacon Travelers, Susanna Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush, which also satisfied RTT's August theme of "Journeys" and counts as a ROOT.

Aug 7, 2016, 12:37 pm

Just started Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther this morning as part of this read and as my this year's yearly summer Elizabeth von Arnim read.

Aug 7, 2016, 4:55 pm

I kicked off with a light and lovely Virago Traveller - Somerville and Ross's Through Connemara in a Governess Cart and now I've moved on to Rebecca West's This Real Night. It isn't quite in the same class as The Fountain Overflows but I'm still finding much to appreciate and enjoy.

Aug 8, 2016, 3:39 am

I read Love by Elizabeth von Arnim a few days before AVAA started but as I am juggling 3 challenges this month I am still claiming it. I then read Challenge by Vita Sackville West which was hard going, dull I'm afraid. I was disappointed in it. After a break to read something else I have started The World my Wilderness by Rose Macaulay.

Aug 8, 2016, 11:54 am

I finished Heat lightning and very much enjoyed the read. The family drama is well balanced against Amy's internal dilemma, and the atmosphere of the hot small town is very compelling.

Now I've started The vicar's daughter which is another perceptive look at relationships and how others see us, as opposed to how we think they see us.

Aug 8, 2016, 3:19 pm

I was fifty pages into Whipple's Greenbanks before I realized I had read it before! But it is so good I carried on. Think I'll do Londford's Making Conversation next. Anyone read it?

Aug 8, 2016, 9:59 pm

I'm about halfway through The Caravaners; I have to admit that I put it down after only a few pages because the narrator is SUCH a jerk. But, I picked it back up and have carried on to see how it all ends up.

Aug 9, 2016, 3:21 am

I've managed one Virago so far, and a controversial one at that - my review is here:

Though I am currently reading a lot of Virginia Woolf! 😀

Aug 9, 2016, 4:27 am

>72 kaggsy: Whee! I can see what you mean, but I still can't love it!

Aug 9, 2016, 5:59 am

>70 Liz1564: I read Making conversation not long after Persephone printed it. I remember enjoying it, especially the ending. The heroine is one of those poor people who always manages to say the wrong thing and is incapable of making small talk, so it can be painful to read at time (especially if you've ever been in a similar position), but it is affectionate not malicious. Hmm, I should reread it ...

Last night I read The hours before dawn, which I found to be a very quick read because I couldn't put it down once I'd started. Fremlin is very clever at making both Louise and the reader doubt whether the suspicions and warning signs are real or the product of too many sleepless nights. As well as a powerful psychological thriller, it is also a fascinating, if painful, picture of the life of a wife and mother in the 1950s. It's one of those books that has me in awe of the main character for carrying on despite her maddening daughters, sleepless baby, unsupportive husband and gossipy neighbours - I really don't know how she managed not to strangle any of the above! Fittingly, I read the last few chapters of the book at 2 in the morning, while suffering from insomnia.

I'm about half-way through The vicar's daughter, which isn't quite as good as the other books by E.H. Young that I've read, but still admirable in its sensitive treatment of relationships.

Aug 9, 2016, 6:25 am

And another one, read and a blog post written... 12 beautiful short stories from Elizabeth Taylor in The Blush. She is such a wonderfully understated author. I love the way the things she doesn't say are as important as the things she does. And even though these are sad stories, about lonely, shy people, there is a lot of humour. I can't recommend her highly enough. If there's anyone out there who hasn't read her yet this collection might be a good place to start.

Aug 9, 2016, 7:25 am

Christine - I can still remember where I was living when I read The Blush because I borrowed it from the Wood Green Library. They had a wire carousel of Viragos. Or I think they did. Memory is so inclined to mix up one library with another, right? In any case they had them collected together and I used to borrow one every time I went in there.

Claire - I LOVED the Fremlin and went on to read several of her other books. This was the only one of the VMC 'mystery' novels I really enjoyed.

Aug 9, 2016, 8:43 am

>74 Sakerfalcon: I loved The Hours Before Dawn too - you literally can't put it down! :))))

Aug 9, 2016, 9:28 am

>72 kaggsy: I need that one.

Aug 9, 2016, 12:58 pm

>75 TheBookTrunk: She is such a wonderfully understated author. I love the way the things she doesn't say are as important as the things she does.
oh yes, I love that about her too.

Aug 9, 2016, 1:30 pm

Seeing all of the talk about Fremlin's The Hours Before Dawn, I decided to set aside my AV/AA list & pick it up. As I have just finished Fingersmith I was in need of a fresh title so I must give this one a try. We have a four hour road trip today & this should be just the ticket. Thanks kids, for the reck. :-)

Aug 9, 2016, 3:53 pm

Hi, this collection is exactly how I started with Elizabeth Taylor! After reading these stories I was hooked and I've gone on to read many of her novels. It is an excellent place to start.

Aug 9, 2016, 4:30 pm

>80 rainpebble: Hope you enjoy it Belva - if you react to it like I did you won't be able to stop reading! It's also a real eye opener about how draining women's lives used to be before all the mod cons we have nowadays.

Aug 10, 2016, 1:38 am

Now I want to read The Hours Before Dawn, too! I've read my slice of Dorothy Richardson for the month but not sure when the review will be up, and I have a Wharton to start but am too drawn to Jo Pavey's autobiography ...

Aug 11, 2016, 1:22 am

>82 kaggsy:
Karen, I really was drawn into this story: The Hours Before Dawn and how appropriately titled this Fremlin is. I saw something coming & was certain that I had it down but WOW, NOT! It was a totally different solve and I never saw it coming.

Would/could this one be a cosy mystery?

Edited: Aug 11, 2016, 2:58 am

I loved The Hours Before Dawn. I just posted my review here on LibraryThing.. I had it in my live journal because of spoilers but it was so long ago it timed out. When I reread it I didn't think there were too many "mystery" spoilers. I concentrated on the wife's life.

Definitely not a "cozy", in my opinion!

Aug 11, 2016, 3:04 am

No, I wouldn't call it cosy at all! The protagonist's life is one of drudgery, with all the cooking and washing and sleep deprivation and a husband who isn't expected to support any of the home life at all but just comes home in the middle of the day expecting a meal on the table. And the very ordinariness makes what happens even more chilling! A very highly rated Virago in my view!

Aug 11, 2016, 3:31 am

I am reading Stevie Smith's Over the Frontier but slowly, as much as I love Stevie's writing it does require concentration.

Edited: Aug 11, 2016, 5:31 am

>84 rainpebble:, >85 Liz1564:, >86 kaggsy: I agree, definitely not cosy! The domestic setting is a source of stress, not comfort. So glad you enjoyed the read, Belva. I don't read many mysteries or thrillers but I'm glad I made an exception for this one.

I finished The vicar's daughter and unfortunately didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the other books by E.H. Young that I've read. It lacked the liveliness of Miss Mole and The Misses Mallet, as we spend a lot of time in the characters' heads as they analyse their thoughts and what they think others think of them over and over again. I didn't really care for Maurice, Edward or Margaret and their obsessions seemed overwrought. I'm glad I'd read the aforementioned two novels already otherwise I might have been put off this usually-excellent writer.

Now I've moved onto Fidelity, which is very good so far.

Aug 11, 2016, 9:10 am

I LOVED Fidelity.

Edited: Aug 11, 2016, 12:53 pm

I finished Over the Frontier today, in which Stevie Smith's quirky but analytical Pompey examines hatred and power (in herself and others) and finds herself , through some dreamlike sequences, working for the fascist military.

I hope to read more Stevie this month but will have a break first. Maybe with Elizabeth Von Arnim's Love.

Aug 12, 2016, 4:14 pm

Been reading The Carlyles at Home (Persephone) for the last few days, LOVED this book. Sat down this afternoon and actually took the time to review it here on LT - and that is something I almost never do.

Aug 13, 2016, 2:24 am

>91 romain: Thanks for that wonderful review, Barbara. I found The Carlyles at a charity shop earlier in the year (very rare for me to find a Persephone second hand) and you've pushed it a lot further up the 'to read pile'.

Aug 13, 2016, 3:35 am

I'm getting started on catching up with Dorothy Richardson (at last!) - Liz is well ahead of us all so I need to get my skates on!

Aug 13, 2016, 8:13 pm

Barbara, you should definitely write more reviews! And I should definitely read *Carlyles*! Meanwhile, I trudge along in Family History, not that it's bad, but it's just not really good.... And with all the wonderful books you are all reading and talking about, I wonder why. *sigh* I am myself, and I have enough invested in it that I will slap my hand when it passes over this one and force it to come back. At least August isn't quite half over.

Aug 14, 2016, 6:05 am

>94 LizzieD: Hmm Reader's envy, I get that too, generally like you when I'm committed to something that's not bad enough to abandon but not giving me all that much joy either and everyone else seems to reading something wonderful.

I'm about to start The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence and have high hopes as I enjoyed A Jest of God so much, last Christmas.

Aug 14, 2016, 1:30 pm

I finished The Caravaners yesterday on the plane to start my vacation reading. Such an unlikeable narrator!

I think my next VMC will be The Return of the Soldier.

Aug 15, 2016, 1:26 am

I did Oberland by Dorothy Richardson last week - just a fifth of a volume, but surely counts? and have now moved onto Wharton's The Reef which is excellent so far and building up to a really interesting situation. I was looking at it thinking big, thick Virago, that close, dark print, oh dear, but she's so readable!

Edited: Aug 15, 2016, 11:21 am

>96 LisaMorr:
Lisa, I think you will really appreciate The Return of the Soldier; so verlly good. If you've not read it before, I envy you your first read of it.

>97 LyzzyBee:
Quite right about Wharton. She is so wonderfully readable. I find her works brilliant and I love her short stories. Enjoy.

Aug 15, 2016, 2:36 pm

>97 LyzzyBee: I adore Edith Wharton, and I loved The Reef. I read it 6 years ago (thanks LT!) so had to refresh my memory by re-reading my review. I rated it 4.5 stars and described it as "an excellent period piece in its scenery, characterizations, and portrayal of relationships between men and women." I notice Heaven-Ali also wrote a substantial review (with spoiler warnings), and I wholeheartedly agree Wharton's writing is "utterly sublime."

I really should pull one of my unread Whartons off the shelves.

Aug 15, 2016, 4:33 pm

I'm actually making headway with Richardson and aim to catch up with the three volumes that will bring me up to date for August - reviews next week hopefully. Then I intend to move on to Hudson River Bracketed by Edith Wharton - I've read very little of her work so I have high hopes!

Aug 15, 2016, 11:17 pm

>95 Soupdragon: Dee, I loved The Fire-Dwellers and need to move on in ML's Manawaka. Thanks for the reminder!
Meanwhile, I did finish Family History at last. I see from reviews on the book page that several of our Virago sisters loved it. I didn't. I didn't think it was bad, but I just couldn't get very excited about it. I will read more V S-W eventually, I hope, but not right now. Right now I hope to speed through The Hours Before Dawn. Yay!

Aug 16, 2016, 1:53 am

>98 rainpebble: and
>99 lauralkeet: , I have loved every Wharton I have read so far: I was looking at this one at midnight after a very long day. On the train journey the next day she was very much appreciated!

Aug 16, 2016, 7:24 am

I've been desperately short of reading time, but I've finished This Real Night and now I'm reading Saraband by Eliot Bliss. After that I really must get back to Dorothy Richardson.

Edited: Aug 16, 2016, 3:03 pm

I have just completed the first two books of the Cousin Rosamund Trilogy: The Fountain Overflows (4*) & This Real Night (4*) by Rebecca West.
I find these very difficult to review.

The Fountain Overflows:
I first discovered Rebecca West in college when I had to read The Return of the Soldier, which I loved, for my British Literature class. I love her descriptive writing. She really captures the emotion and setting of her story. I found this to be more than just a good read.

This Real Night:
I really appreciated The Fountain Overflows. This Real Night has the same beautiful poignant writing and the same characters but is not quite the compelling narrative of the previous novel. Even so I would have to say that I am glad I read it. I don't know that I will go for the third in the trilogy: Cousin Rosamund.

I find that I quite agree with this quote:

"Rebecca West's novel touches the very essence of life ..... Reviewing Rebecca West is like trying to review Michaelangelo. Perhaps we have become afraid of acknowledging contemporary greatness."
~ Sybille Bedford

Aug 17, 2016, 1:55 am

I have those books Belva and I really must get on with reading them...

As it is I just read the first chapter of Wharton's Hudson River Bracketed and the straightforward, lovely prose was very refreshing after three Dorothy Richardsons...

Aug 17, 2016, 5:58 am

>105 kaggsy: that's one of my I read Whartons so will be interested in your thoughts on it. I can certainly relate to your comments on writing style though!

Aug 17, 2016, 10:12 am

>106 lauralkeet: So far I am absolutely loving it - why isn't it better known?????

Aug 17, 2016, 10:26 am

>107 kaggsy: I suspect Wharton is better known this side of the Atlantic but even so, the awareness would be limited to just a few of her better-known works. Ethan Frome is commonly used in secondary school English, The Age of Innocence is also quite popular, and then House of Mirth. But she wrote so many wonderful books and also spent a considerable part of her life abroad and wrote from that perspective, not just "old New York". Kudos to Virago for publishing so much of her work!

Aug 17, 2016, 10:30 am

>108 lauralkeet: absolutely! And apparently there is a follow up to this which I'll have to seek out....

Edited: Aug 17, 2016, 10:41 am

>109 kaggsy: well whaddaya know, I was not aware of that. According to LT, the follow up is The Gods Arrive which I also have on my shelves. Oh jeez, so many books ...

ETA: hmmm, the sole LT review is not exactly favorable.

Aug 17, 2016, 11:02 am

>110 lauralkeet: Indeed, although by implication the reviewer isn't overly keen on Hudson, whereas I'm completely absorbed in it!

Aug 17, 2016, 2:48 pm

>111 kaggsy: Hang about, I thought you weren't starting that one till the END of August. Does this count as the end of August? Eeps.

Edited: Aug 18, 2016, 2:02 am

>112 LyzzyBee: possibly not... But I've caught up and I'm doing a lot of travel at the mo which is a good time... sorreeeee 🙁

Aug 18, 2016, 2:02 am

>112 LyzzyBee: And I won't necessarily be reviewing it straight away - we can co ordinate our posts later in the month if you let me know when you want to put yours up!

Aug 19, 2016, 6:59 am

I reviewed The World my Wilderness yesterday - thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'm now reading The Winged Horse by Pamela Frankau.

Aug 19, 2016, 5:25 pm

I am currently reading The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. This is a 2nd reread for me but it has been many years & it still has the same effect on me. What a romantic story and so sad in many places.
For my bedtime reading, as so many of you have been speaking of Edith Wharton, I have chosen Madame de Treymes which I have not yet attempted. I do so love Wharton. I have found almost every one of her works that I have read totally engrossing. I still think Ethan Frome is my favorite followed by The Age of Innocence and I find her short stories to be brilliant!

Aug 21, 2016, 2:19 am

I've never joined AVAA before but its been a great way to get me to read some of the titles on my shelf. Reviewed yesterday was my first one for the year - Devoted Ladies by Molly Keane which seems to have divided opinions among Virago readers. I didnt care for it at first but it did warm on me

Edited: Aug 21, 2016, 4:38 am

I've managed to read a couple of Persephone's this month: Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski (thanks to all the recommendations earlier in the thread) which was very good and a collection of Dorothy Whipple's short stories, The Closed Door and Other Stories.

Now reading a couple of Viragos: The Edwardians by Vita Sackville West and Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison.

Aug 21, 2016, 4:40 am

Finished Hudson River Bracketed this morning and it's excellent! I'm quite pleased that I've read several Viragos this month - I'll review eventually and link here.

Edited: Aug 22, 2016, 12:57 am

Just this minute finished Alas, Poor Lady (4****, Persephone), which is darker than The Brontës Went to Woolworths, although TBWtW probably has its dark underside too. I'm going to go on to a reread of TBWtW next and then maybe just pick up a Virago out of the huge pile on my dining room table.

ETA: Alas, Poor Lady reminds me of The Odd Women and perhaps even more so of Miss Miles by Mary Taylor (she of Brontë fame, the Rose Yorke of Shirley).

Aug 22, 2016, 2:08 am

Catch up post on my Pilgrimage read along here:

So I'm up to date with my Richardson reading for now!

Aug 22, 2016, 10:40 am

I've read and very much enjoyed Edith Wharton's The Reef, not sure when I'll get to reviewing it but it will come!

Aug 22, 2016, 3:49 pm

I loved The Reef! But have not read Hudson River Bracketed.

Really must get to the Ferguson, Mike.

Just finished Maman What Are We Called Now by Jacqueline Mesnil-Amar. Reviewed it on the LT site. Another 5* Persephone!!!

Aug 22, 2016, 4:24 pm

>123 romain: Another Ferguson I've read and that I really liked was her first novel, False Goddesses. Not a Virago, and in fact you'll only find it in electronic format or in Publish-on-Demand. It's been a while since I've read it, and I don't have a review, but I see I rated it 4****. I ought to give it a reread, but there's so much Ferguson to read (and I've got something like fourteen books of hers, so I really do need to do some Ferguson ROOTing).

From a Brontëan interest, she also wrote Charlotte Brontë: A Play in Three Acts. The play itself was rather pedestrian but it's got an amusing prologue of a wealthy American tourist come as a pilgrim accompanied by his wife to pay homage at Haworth. Out-of-print. I snagged a copy of it some years ago on ABE (quite expensive but beautiful condition), but it looks like there aren't any more copies out there.

Aug 24, 2016, 7:05 pm

Green Spine 'finds' for All Virago/All August!

Aug 25, 2016, 2:45 am

Lovely finds Cate! I have a feeling that the Taylor might be a hard to find one, and I've never seen the Bashkirtseff either!

Aug 25, 2016, 3:56 am

I just finished Rose Macaulay's Told by an Idiot (3***). As A.N.Wilson notes in the Introduction, it's more an "essay" than a novel, and I found it tedious at times, but Macaulay's opinionated commentary can often be amusing, hence 3***. I found the only two particularly interesting characters to be "Papa" – the forever-searching-for-the-truth Romanist, Anglican, Christian-Science, spiritualist, whatever – and his granddaughter Imogen, the naïf who is an impressionistic child of nature and at the same time, with her rife imagination, a not completely unsuccessful poet and storyteller.

Told by an Idiot (1923) predates Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury by six years, but as far as books with titles drawn from Macbeth's final soliloquy, Told by an Idiot particularly reminds me of M. Barnard Eldershaw's Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1947), a seminal work of Australian sci-fi (and also a VMC) but one that shares Told by an Idiot's sometimes tedious editorializing. Both books could have benefited from the advice, "Show, don't tell."

Aug 26, 2016, 8:19 am

>125 bleuroses: Fabulous finds Cate. I loved Hester Lilly.

I loved The Winged Horse by Pamela Frankau - reviewed on my blog.

Now I'm reading two short novels in one vol - Blue Skies and Jack and Jill by Helen Hodgman which is odd-ish but quite readable. Have finished the first one - the writing is good.

Aug 26, 2016, 9:12 am

I've started Angela Thirkell's August Folly which is a new Virago and has to be read this month given the title!

Aug 26, 2016, 11:17 am

My Virago reading has fallen by the wayside while I was on holiday, but I've started again by picking up A fine of two hundred francs It is interesting so far, although there are some strange leaps between each section of the first story that makes it a little hard to follow.

Aug 26, 2016, 12:33 pm

>130 Sakerfalcon: That was one of the first Viragoes I read and I haven't re-read it since, not for any particular reason. But I know I've been carrying it around with me for decades!

Aug 26, 2016, 4:14 pm

I have just completed my read of The Thorn Birds (4 1/2*) by Colleen McCullough, which I have loved previously, loved again this time round & I am sure will love again down the road. Seriously sappy romance which I have been known to be a sucker for upon occasion, but the call of the Australian/New Zealand outback & the workings of the Drogheda sheep ranch just suck the reader in. Wonderfully descriptive writing by McCullough here.

Aug 26, 2016, 4:15 pm

>132 rainpebble: I loved that, many, many years ago.

Aug 27, 2016, 1:33 am

Yes, Joyce. I think I read it the first time in the 1970s. YIKES!~!

Aug 27, 2016, 10:23 am

>98 rainpebble: Yes! My first time reading The Return of the Soldier - sad and beautiful.

I've just started Life and Death of Harriet Frean.

Aug 27, 2016, 12:54 pm

I am 6 chapters into A Fortnight in September - by R C Sherriff. This will be my last book of the month I think and they have all been Persephones.

Aug 28, 2016, 2:27 am

My review of Hudson River Bracketed is up here:

Absolutely wonderful book!

Aug 28, 2016, 9:37 am

Just finished August Folly. I have Hudson River Bracketed up next so I can get it in before the end of August. So I'm going to ignore the above status!

Aug 28, 2016, 11:55 am

I feel inspired to read Angela Thirkell next month and think I have time to get one more VMC in for AV/AA so I have begun High Rising to get a jump on her Barsetshire Novels. This is a reread but it has been several years so I am sure I have forgotten much.

Karen, thank you so much for taking on AV/AA. I think it is going very well. Kudos!

Edited: Aug 28, 2016, 12:13 pm

I just finished The Fortnight in September by R C Sherriff. A nice little book about a seaside holiday in the 1930s.

I am calling a halt to my AV/AA with 5 Persephones.

The Montana Stories - Katherine Mansfield 2.5*
Flush - Virginia Woolf - 5*
The Carlyles at Home - Thea Holme - 5*
Maman, What are we Called Now?- Mesnil Amar - 5*
The Fortnight in September - R C Sherriff - 2.5*

I am happy to say that just by pulling books randomly off the shelves I chose 3 that I considered top notch.

Edited: Aug 28, 2016, 2:52 pm

>137 kaggsy: Karen, I shared your lovely review on the VMCReaders page.

Regarding ET's Hester Lilly, luck was with me for finding it at an amazing price - under $5.00 and shipped from the UK!

I had another non-Virago edition of Marie Bashkirtseff and was surprised (and quite happy) to find it as a VMC.

Aug 28, 2016, 3:02 pm

>141 bleuroses: Thanks Cate - I don't do Facebook so I appreciate this. That *was* a good find for the Hester Lilly - well done!

>139 rainpebble: Hasn't it been a lovely month of reading Belva - I've enjoyed the Viragos I've read and also reading about everyone else's reads! 😀

Aug 29, 2016, 12:51 am

Just finished Vita Sackville-West's The Edwardians (3½***), courtesy of Virago Secret Santa 2014.

Aug 29, 2016, 1:50 am

I've reviewed The Reef and August Folly, I think that makes three for me so far, and I'll at least start Hudson River Bracketed this month, too.

Aug 30, 2016, 8:02 am

>137 kaggsy: Great review, Karen! I remember thinking very highly of HRB when I read it years ago, but although I have a copy of The gods arrive I haven't ever read it. I think I will reread HRB and then continue with the sequel. It won't be in time for this year's AV/AA though!

A fine of two hundred francs is fascinating both for the characters and the social history. These vignettes show life in occupied France through the lives some ordinary people who are more or less involved with the Resistance.

Aug 30, 2016, 8:40 am

Claire - I just finished Maman, What Are We Called Now which covers some of the same issues. I was really surprised that this Jewish family had as much freedom of movement as they did. Obviously they had forged papers (and money!) but they traveled back and forth between the Occupied Zone and Vichy to visit family and because they missed Paris so much. The author makes no bones about it being reckless behavior but the stress of staying in hiding was too much for them. I had previously read A Fine of Two Hundred Francs and thought back to it the whole time I was reading the Persephone.

Aug 30, 2016, 8:54 am

>146 romain: I will have to add that to my list of books to buy next time I go to the Persephone shop!

Aug 30, 2016, 8:57 am

I finished The Life and Death of Harriett Frean and I'm halfway through Memento Mori. I have a long flight tomorrow and I'm hoping to get through Summer Will Show, which will make five VMCs for this month.

Aug 30, 2016, 10:25 am

Just started Poor Caroline this morning, which seems a suitably silly way to end the summer. With luck, I shall be able to finish it by tomorrow.

Aug 30, 2016, 11:47 am

>145 Sakerfalcon: Thanks Claire! I liked the book very much indeed - though I probably won't get to the follow up till next August!

And I really must go back to A Fine of Two Hundred Francs which I started once and never finished - and I can't remember why!

Aug 31, 2016, 2:54 am

>137 kaggsy:, >144 LyzzyBee: great reviews of two Edith Whartons! I really must get to HRB one of these days.

Aug 31, 2016, 6:51 am

So I did

Oberland - only part of a Virago of course

The Reef - a great Edith Wharton

August Folly - a light Thirkell in the modern edition

Hudson River Bracketed - Barely started but should get more time with it later today.

Not too shabby, I should have put more Viragoes on my 20 Books of Summer list!! I've had fun reading some of the same books as some other people here, too. I will read the other Viragoes I have as I go along, as I'm sure I'll have amassed some more by next August!

Sep 1, 2016, 3:57 pm

Very happy to participate this year and get some more VMCs under my belt - read four and started on a fifth.

Edited: Sep 1, 2016, 4:05 pm

My AV/AA went like this:
1. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters; (4*); Virago fiction
2. The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin; (5*); VMC, #423;
3. The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West; (4*); VMC, #143;
4. This Real Night by Rebecca West; (4*); VMC, #270;
5. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood; (1/2*); Virago fiction;
6. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough; (4 1/2*); VMC #530;
7. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith; (5*); VMC, #410;

Only one stinker in the bunch. I loved Fremlin's work and I was so enchanted by Smith's little novel. I found it to be so many things to me. It was whimsical, happy, sad, enlightening, thought provoking, just so much going on in it. Have to say I loved it even more than I hated Atwood's, which was a lot.

Thanks again, Karen, for hosting our Virago/Persephone month of August. As usual I loved an opportunity to focus on our beloved greens & grays.

Sep 1, 2016, 6:06 pm

I just finished reading The Diary of a Provincial Lady. Good summer reading but not one of my favorites. I am now beginning A Model Childhood

by Christa Wolf and it will be quite a different experience. I read a bit of her bio and she sounds really interesting and so am looking forward to

learning more about her. I don't think I've seen her mentioned by anyone and wonder if anyone is familiar with her work?

Sep 2, 2016, 9:41 am

>155 kayclifton: I read City of Angels or, The Overcoat of Dr Freud, which is semi-autobiographical about two years ago and thought she was fascinating. There was the inner guilt, and the life of exiles in LA, most of all the life of a stateless person. Here is a link to my review: It is post 151.

I now look for her books whenever I find myself in a place where they actually sell books. I am going away next week on holiday which is when I usually do my year's binge buy, so maybe I will find some then (and Viragos of course). I "discovered" her in the Harvard Coop bookstore, a wonderful place, as you probably know well as I see you are in Boston.

Sep 2, 2016, 10:43 am

>154 rainpebble: It's been a fun month of reading and I've mentioned the Viragos in my post here:

Technically I read 5 if you count the Richardsons as separate books! :) But I'm feeling smug at reading the Wharton particularly.

And I'm still in shock that you didn't like The Blind Assassin, Belva! It's quite a while since I read it, but I do remember loving it a lot, so much so that I've always thought of it as one of my favourite Atwoods. But it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things!

Sep 2, 2016, 11:38 am

>154 rainpebble: and >157 kaggsy: Loved The Blind Assassin as well, one of my favs by Atwood, and as you say, different strokes for different folks!

Sep 3, 2016, 5:46 am

I did very little reading at all this month, though what I did do was mostly Virago!

For some reason August always turns out to be a frenetic and madly busy month for me, not a relaxing holiday one at all (I took my holiday in July and am going away again in October).

This year, A level results were in the mix too. We all nervously waited for results, were celebratory when J got the results he needed for his first choice university and now madly trying to get everything organised. Well I am anyway, J seems to be taking more of a "I'll deal with it tomorrow" attitude.

Sep 3, 2016, 9:14 am

Oh Dee - that boy thing right? My son is at Rutgers, here in New Jersey, and it is still that last minute thing. Oh by the way, I need this book by tomorrow morning. Or, the paper is due in at midnight and he is e-mailing it at 11.55 pm.

Sep 3, 2016, 11:25 am

>160 romain: Yes, exactly that thing, Barbara!

Sep 3, 2016, 3:27 pm

Oh, the blessings & delights of raising a son & sending him off to uni. I remember those days so clearly & now a man of 50! How the hell did that happen, I ask you and how I do miss my lad but I revel in the man he has become.
blessings to you, Dee & Barbara

Sep 3, 2016, 11:10 pm

>154 rainpebble: >157 kaggsy:, etc. Belva, I'm with you! I had to force myself to finish Blind Assassin. It's the only MA that I have actively disliked.
I echo blessings to Dee and Barbara - in fact, to all mothers and their sons. I don't have one - only one of somebody else's.

Sep 4, 2016, 6:22 am

>162 rainpebble: >163 LizzieD: Thank you, dear friends. Think of me in two weeks time when we'll be doing the drive to Sheffield and J's new accommodation. Only an hour away but he's quite a homebody and this is a big transition for us all.

Sep 5, 2016, 6:57 am

>164 Soupdragon: I wish you and J the very best of luck. I hope he'll find some good friends and settle in quickly.

Here's my total for AV/AA:
Heat lightning
The hours before dawn
The vicar's daughter
A fine of two hundred francs

Apart from The vicar's daughter, which was a disappointment, all of them were very good.

Edited: Sep 7, 2016, 8:44 pm


The Edwardians (courtesy of my 2014 Santa) 3½***
Told by an Idiot 3***
Alas, Poor Lady (Persephone, an absolute must for me to start a major read of my entire Ferguson collection) 4****
Roughing It in the Bush or Life in Canada (also satisfied Reading Through Time's August theme of "Journeys") 3***

I meant to get to a reread of The Brontës Went to Woolworths but let myself get distracted on trying to finish the Library of America Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, Following the Equator, & Other Travels for the RTT group's "Journeys" theme and also for the Big Fat Book challenge. I still even now have to finish a bit of Following the Equator (the best of the three titles anthologized in this LoA volume). I really do have an LoA addiction – including most if not all of the sixteen (I think that's how many so far) volumes of Henry James!

ETA: Ermm, I mean, I own all of the Henry James volumes. I don't mean I've read them all.