All Virago/All August 2019

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All Virago/All August 2019

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Jul 27, 2019, 11:35am

We're nearing the month of August and so it's time for our annual tradition of devoting all (or some!) of the month to reading books from our Virago collections. We've extended this over the years to include books that are not published by Virago themselves, but the authors have been; and also we now include Persephone Books as they are books we all love and tend to overlap a bit with our Virago collections and ethos.

Of course, what you choose to read in August could coincide with our monthly Read the 1940s challenge. Or you may choose to go off at a tangent and read a Virago/Persephone totally unrelated to that decade.

Post your thoughts and reads here - it will be wonderful to hear what we all pick up and enjoy! :D

Jul 27, 2019, 11:36am

For me, I've failed completely so far with the 1940s challenge, but I do have at least one book lined up for August by a Virago author which I'm determined to read.

I also participate in Women in Translation month so have an other possibility lurking which ticks both boxes.

Watch this space... ;D

Jul 28, 2019, 10:23am

I use this time to (mostly) read Persephones. I started off the 1940s challenge with a bang but it petered out because I had already read so many of my books from that era.

Jul 28, 2019, 12:18pm

I've got nine books selected for August, all Viragoes and Persephones, thus:

Margery Sharp – The Eye of Love – you can’t beat Margery Sharp and this promises to be a great novel.

Ellen Wilkinson – Clash – the story of a political activist set against the General Strike of 1926

Henry Handel Richardson – The Getting of Wisdom – coming-of-age novel by this (female) Australian novelist

Henry Handel Richardson – Maurice Guest – a doomed Australian-English love set over 500 pages (this might be the one I swap out but Kaggsy gave it to me so that’s a good sign)

Angela Thirkell – Before Lunch – more Barsetshire fun. I have about six of hers TBR so have confined myself to just one for the moment.

Dorothy Whipple – Young Anne – her first novel and the last to be republished by Persephone and another coming-of-age novel

Ada Leverson – Tenterhooks and Love at Second Sight – I read Love’s Shadow a couple of years ago and picked up the omnibus also containing the other two.

Edith Ayrton Zangwill – The Call – a woman scientist abandons her career to be a suffragette.

Nicholas Mosley – Julian Grenfell – acclaimed biography of the First World War poet.

They're all part of my 20BooksofSummer project, which I'm still behind on (argh). I do have three days in September to finish the challenge after August ...

None of them are WIT so I'm also fitting in Convenience Store Woman but that's short ...

Jul 29, 2019, 4:54am

Thanks for the reminder Karen! I don't know where July has gone ... I will spend time this evening and tomorrow preparing a TBR pile for the month!

Jul 29, 2019, 10:01am

>4 LyzzyBee: Wow, Liz, that’s an impressive list! I of course approve your choice of Clash! Unfortunately I can’t remember anything about Maurice Guest...

>5 Sakerfalcon: look forward to hearing your choices! 😁

Jul 31, 2019, 3:41am

>6 kaggsy: Yeah, not sure I'll get through it all although reading has been better in July!

Aug 1, 2019, 6:16am

So here is what I've chosen so far:

The rising tide - I'm actually halfway through this.
Emmeline (Persephone)
Breakfast with the Nikolides - for the 1940s theme.
The overlanders - I think this will fit into the Emigration/Relocation theme too.
Rhapsody - short stories.
Year before last
Smoke and other early stories

And I will also try and read one of the Travellers series that I own.

Aug 1, 2019, 8:36am

Every year I forget to do this, so this year I'm determined to read at least one! I'll try to combine with my own project of reading books with names in the title - I'm sure there's plenty of overlap on my shelves.

Aug 1, 2019, 11:34am

>8 Sakerfalcon: oooooh the Travellers! I forgot about them - I have quite a few! I’ll have to investigate!

Aug 4, 2019, 7:46am

I read my first book for AV/AA at the end of July because I will be juggling books for #WITMonth too. It was The Wedding by Dorothy West. I have reviewed it here.

Now reading The Harsh Voice by Rebecca West

(not deliberately reading people with the same last name.)

Aug 4, 2019, 8:37am

This wasn't planned, but I happen to be reading volume 3 of Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage. I've also been checking in on the old group read threads from this group so thank you to all who participated in that!

Aug 4, 2019, 9:10am

>12 japaul22: You've made it to Volume 3! That's an accomplishment in and of itself.

Aug 6, 2019, 5:45am

I finished The rising tide and thought it was very good. More serious than many of Keane's books, it takes a hard look at the interior lives of its characters and examines their motivations and the consequences. There is a lot of period detail about clothes, interior decoration, etc. which immerses you in the setting. There is quite a lot of hunting, which I know several readers don't like, so perhaps avoid this book if you are one of them. There is an interesting crossover from a character in Good behaviour which I enjoyed. This isn't among my favourites of Keane's novels but it was a good read.

Aug 6, 2019, 7:42am

>14 Sakerfalcon: I read The Rising Tide several years back so I looked up my review to refresh my memory. It looks like we had similar feelings about this book and its place in Keane's oeuvre; here's the last sentence of my review:

While this isn't my favorite Molly Keane (that would be Good Behaviour), it was still an enjoyable satire.

Aug 6, 2019, 7:45am

>15 lauralkeet: Yes, that about sums it up. I read Good behaviour recently and loved it.

Aug 6, 2019, 4:08pm

I've been thinking about All Virago All August for a while, and then I let the start of August slip past me, darn!

Anyway, like >12 japaul22:, I've been working on Pilgrimage also and I'm ready to start Pilgrimage 3 this month. And thanks for mentioning there are old group read threads here - I didn't think of that!

I was thinking about the VMCs that I have that are also 1001 books - so I might try to fit one of these in as well:
The Birds Fall Down by Rebecca West
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
After the Death of Don Juan by Sylvia Townsend Warner
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

>4 LyzzyBee: A great list to choose from! I read The Getting of Wisdom a few years back, and it was good but sad (as I think many coming of age VMCs are...).

Aug 7, 2019, 4:26am

I have finally selected the books for the AV/AA reading:

Her Son's Wife - Dorothy Canfield;
A Note in the Music - Rosamond Lehmann;
Breakfast with the Nikolides - Rumer Godden;
The Roaring Nineties - Katharine Susannah Prichard;
I have also added The Overlanders - Dora Birtles; for the Relocation theme. I Love the red dust country!!
I am 3/4 way through Pilgrimage 1 so I will try and finish that too.
I have been dipping in and out of The Montana Stories by Katherine Mansfield (Persephone ed.) for a few weeks now so I will try and finish that one as well.
Very ambitious but will see how many I can finish during August.

>17 LisaMorr: - I read Well of Loneliness when it was first released as a VMC. It was so poignant and moving about a women's voyage of self-discovery. I do hope you enjoy it.

Edited: Aug 7, 2019, 6:50am

I've now started Breakfast with the Nikolides and already feel the heat and dust of India as I read.

Aug 8, 2019, 8:05am

Just finished Tory Heaven by Marghanita Laski (Persephone). Laski is one of my favorite Persephone authors but this book was a throwaway.

Aug 12, 2019, 11:28am

Today I reviewed The Harsh Voice by Rebecca West. I thought it was a brilliant collection of four long short stories.

Now reading National Provincial by Lettice Cooper a big Persephone book (just over 600 pages!)

Aug 12, 2019, 11:36am

I'm reading some more of Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire novels (which is what I did last August): Before Lunch and Cheerfulness Breaks in at the moment.

Aug 13, 2019, 5:20am

Breakfast with the Nikolides was a great read, classic Rumer Godden with a deep understanding of childhood and vivid portrayal of India.

Now I've started Year before last and have been transported to the South of France.

Aug 13, 2019, 9:35am

I just finished Farewell Leicester Square by Betty Miller. Liked it but didn't love it.

Aug 13, 2019, 4:05pm

I’ve read a Vita Sackville-West recommended by Simon - The Death of Noble Godavary - which was wonderful if a little unusual!

Aug 13, 2019, 5:23pm

>18 mrspenny: Thanks - I've been wanting to read it for a long time now, hopefully will get it read this month!

Aug 18, 2019, 7:52pm

Just finished The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart. Another Persephone and another dud. 3 in a row now. I've been scanning my Persephones and picking the first unread ones I find. Not much luck this year.

Aug 19, 2019, 5:29am

>27 romain: I found that disappointing too. But the illustrations by Gwen Raverat are great!

I finished Year before last and am now reading a Persephone, Emmeline. It's very good so far.

Aug 19, 2019, 9:31pm

I've read two Viragos so far this month - Hester Lilly by Elizabeth Taylor and All the Dogs of My Life by Elizabeth von Arnim. Very different, but both very enjoyable. I find EvA so wise about life and I love the way she uses humor to deal with sadness and hard times.

Aug 20, 2019, 1:56am

My review of the Vita is now up here:

I really don’t know why this one is so obscure and out of print because it’s great!

Aug 20, 2019, 3:15am

I read all of these one year too, pop over to my blog at and do a search and you should find them. I did get a big bogged down, though!!

Aug 20, 2019, 3:18am

I've so far read

Margery Sharp The Eye of Love review here

Henry Handel Richardson The Getting of Wisdom review here

I've read Mary Webb's Seven for a Secret but not reviewed it yet and I fear that's all I'm going to get done, although I might get to sneak a Thirkell in.

Aug 21, 2019, 7:11am

I finished Emmeline which was a very good read. It gives a vivid picture of life for a young girl sent to work in the textile mills of Massachusetts, away from her home and family at the tender age of 13. This is the 1840s and so even those who are concerned for Emmeline's wellbeing don't feel it appropriate to give her clear warnings about the dangers that await her. As a result she falls prey to the attentions of her overseer and from then on the path to tragedy is set. Written in 1980 the book is a rallying cry against a society that insists on putting the responsibility for upholding morality onto women at the same time as it keeps them ignorant of just what constitutes "sin".

Now I've started The overlanders which has transported me to the Australian outback during WWII.

Aug 21, 2019, 4:29pm

I'm still reading Three Cousins not a Virago and am determined to finish it. The next one on my list is a reread of My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather.

After that it will be The Romantic by May Sinclair. Sinclair is a Virago author and one of my favorites. I requested The Romantic from a non public library system and it will be an edition published

in 1920. I hope that it will be worth the trouble. I own and have read her The Divine Fire which I believe is her most well known and highly praised work.

Aug 22, 2019, 4:44am

I've finished off with Seven for a Secret which was great, and in that same review you will see I bought a Virago Green I'd never encountered before - I have by no means read or got them all but it's rare to encounter one I don't know.

Aug 22, 2019, 6:50am

>35 LyzzyBee: I read The camomile a few years ago and really liked it!

Aug 22, 2019, 10:50pm

>27 romain: Sorry for your bad luck with Persephones, but I just finished Little Boy Lost by M. Laski which was quite a page-turner. And an excellent portrayal of post-war France.

Aug 23, 2019, 4:40am

I read National Provincial by Lettice Cooper a big fat Persephone book. It's brilliant.

Review here.

Aug 25, 2019, 2:59pm

Last night I finished The Wise Virgins by Leonard Woolf. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it very much either. Like all the others this month, it was picked at random from my TBR Persephones. Minus cooking and gardening books, I only have 31 Persephones left to read and these are either brand new titles or stuff I don't really have a feel for. Everything I read this month fell into the latter category so perhaps it's not a good idea to read from a pile of books you've been putting off for years. :)

Aug 29, 2019, 6:51am

The overlanders was great! An excellent adventure in the Australian outback. See the 1940s Emigration/Relocation thread for more comments.

Now I'm reading Smoke and other early stories by Djuna Barnes.

Edited: Aug 29, 2019, 2:11pm

The other day I read Persephone book Hetty Dorval which fits out 1940s reading too. Lovely little novella.

Currently reading The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim which I am enjoying a lot. It will be my final AV/AA book.

So for this year's AV /AA I read:

The Wedding by Dorothy West (started it early) VMC
The Harsh Voice by Rebecca West VMC
National Provincial by Lettice Cooper - Persephone
Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson - Persephone
The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim VMC

(do Dean street Press books count? If so I also read Table Two by Marjorie Wilenski

Aug 30, 2019, 6:45am

Oh if DSP books count I can add Spam Tomorrow and Peace, Perfect Peace to my list I think they should, really!