Which Virago Are you Reading? Part XVIII

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Which Virago Are you Reading? Part XVIII

Jun 28, 2017, 7:05pm

I guess that I have initiated the new thread. Having never done it before I hope that I haven't

fouled it up. With my bad luck it wouldn't surprise me if I had erased the "What Virago Are You

Reading" thread entirely.

With that in mind my message is that I have just started reading The Street by Ann Petry.

I am unfamiliar with her work and will read biographical information about her when I finish the

book. For some reason I like to be introduced to a writer through their work initially and then

finding parallels in their works with their own personal lives.

Jun 28, 2017, 8:14pm

Thanks for creating the new thread! The other one had gotten a bit long, hadn't it?

Jun 30, 2017, 2:55am

>1 kayclifton: You're not alone in that - I tend to avoid biographical stuff until I know I like an author and want to know more about them. Sometimes I just don't want to know!

Jul 2, 2017, 1:15pm

I recently finished this and thought it was brilliant, but I'd be interested to hear your views. I'd not heard of her before, and the setting was equally unfamiliar.

Jul 6, 2017, 4:53pm

The Street by Ann Petry is a very difficult read and one of the saddest books that I have ever read. The book's denouement was very painful. As the downward spiral in the fortunes of the protagonist Lutie Johnson continued the ending seemed almost an inevitability. It is a stark portrayal of the horrors of black ghetto life in Harlem in the 1930s and the terrible effects of racism toward blacks in white culture. Conditions have improved and overt racism has gone underground but it is still pervasive in the US and Western Europe. I personally went through the experience of being a teacher in a school system that was desegregated in the 1970s and the scars of it remain.

Jul 7, 2017, 1:06pm

>1 kayclifton: "With my bad luck it wouldn't surprise me if I had erased the "What Virago Are You
Reading" thread entirely." I don't think you can even do that if you want to! Thanks for starting the new thread, Kay.

Jul 27, 2017, 12:12pm

This morning I finished reading Afternoon of a Good Woman by Nina Bawden. Quite an introspective novel, with less drama than some of her books but I enjoyed it.

Ago 15, 2017, 4:49pm

Just put down but remain under the spell of Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor. An unflinching examination of desolate old age in mid-century London.

Ago 16, 2017, 6:43am

>8 Limelite: that's one of the first Viragos I read (several years ago now) and it still haunts me.

Ago 16, 2017, 12:21pm

>9 lauralkeet: I think it's my first VMC, too. I never paid attention to these editions before. What a writer! It's a book that begs to be discussed in a thread all its own.

Editado: Ago 16, 2017, 5:55pm

>10 Limelite: It's a book that begs to be discussed in a thread all its own

We did that back in 2012, her centenary year. Here it is!

And here's a general discussion thread for our Elizabeth Taylor Centenary:

Ago 16, 2017, 8:08pm

>11 lauralkeet:
Thank you for the links.

Ago 31, 2017, 6:02pm

I have put up the thread for the group read of Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey:

It is here

All welcome! - though no hurry about starting. :)

Sep 17, 2017, 2:53am

Reading In other Worlds by Margaret Atwood which is utterly magnificent!

Sep 17, 2017, 4:19pm

While I'm not reading it at the moment, I did buy Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain -- and I do look forward to reading it. Amazon offered it for under $1.99!

Editado: Oct 11, 2017, 8:30pm

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Sep 18, 2017, 4:53am

I recently finished For love alone and enjoyed it more than I have most of Stead's novels. Her characters are not often sympathetic, and here Teresa could be frustrating at times, but I found myself engaged with her story. The book was better written than some of her others, with some beautiful writing in the Australian section describing the sea and the coast. She also draws a vivid picture of life in the working classes there during the 1930s, and how marriage really seemed to be the only option for so many women. The other character who dominates the book is the horrendous misogynist Jonathan Crow, and I could have done with fewer pages of his thoughts and opinions. Teresa's adolescence and observations of the world around her have left her all too ready to believe his theory that women are parasites who just want to lure a man into marriage and then suck him dry; it is very satisfying to see her gradually reject this and learn a healthier view of love. This is a long read, probably longer than it needed to be, and rarely upbeat, so it's difficult to recommend, but I'm pleased to have read it.

Now I'm reading a book about a Virago author, Elizabeth Jolley, called The house of fiction. It's written by Jolley's stepdaughter Susan who discovered at the age of 20 that her father, who left her mother when Susan was 4, was living a new life in Australia with a secret family. He had let his relatives think that he'd moved there with Susan and her mum, but in fact he was living with Elizabeth Jolley and it seems she cooked up a whole fictional life to report to the folks back in England. As Susan's mother had promised her father never to contact his family, it went undiscovered until Susan's marriage at the age of 21. I'm curious as to what could have made the Jolleys create this fiction, even to the extent of sending photos of "Susan" to her aunt.

Editado: Sep 18, 2017, 7:07am

>17 Sakerfalcon: The House of Fiction sounds fascinating, Claire. What on earth were they thinking? I share your curiosity about why they would go to such lengths. Perhaps you can report back?

Sep 18, 2017, 7:33am

>18 lauralkeet: I will! Though I might post in the "What else are you reading?" thread as the book isn't actually a Virago.

Sep 18, 2017, 9:21am

Claire - This does indeed sound very interesting. What motivated Jolley? Did she get a kick out of hoodwinking people? Or was she being 'kind' to granny etc? I suspect that a lot of people saw Australia as far enough away from home to re-invent themselves, but you are saying that Jolley aided and abetted the deception?

Sep 24, 2017, 3:22am

Finally got my thoughts together about the Atwood book and they're here!


Oct 1, 2017, 3:52pm

I just started reading The Ghostly Lover by Elizabeth Hardwick - it has to be the most dreadful VMC title ever.

Oct 7, 2017, 6:54pm

I do have a couple by Margaret Kennedy to read for October, but I just started Emily Holmes Coleman's The Shutter of Snow. I'm doing this one now because I recently finished Jane Dunn's biography of Antonia White and was reading of White's and Coleman's friendship.

Oct 10, 2017, 4:42pm

>23 CurrerBell:
I hope you appreciate this small novel half as much as I did, Mike. It is dark, introspective and just so many other adjectives but it remains one of my dearest VMCs.
**stepping out to find your review of the bio**

Oct 29, 2017, 4:26pm

I'm reading The Wedding Group by Elizabeth Taylor for the 1968 Club that Kaggsy and I are running (starting tomorrow!) It's one that I don't see discussed all that often online, but I'm enjoying it. I read most of it on a plane, which probably isn't the best place to read Taylor, as she requires a bit more contemplative concentration that such a scenario can provide!

Oct 29, 2017, 6:34pm

>25 Stuck-in-a-Book: Hi Simon! I can't remember whether you took part in our Elizabeth Taylor Centenary way back in 2012, but we read The Wedding Group then. Here's the discussion thread in case you'd like to see comments from that time:

Oct 29, 2017, 7:29pm

Oh thanks! I can't remember whether or not I did either, tbh!

Oct 30, 2017, 11:07am

Reading Millions Like Us: British Women's Fiction of the Second World War by Jenny Hartley, a Virago non-fiction book which comments on the portrayal of women's lives of that time in many books since reprinted by VMC, Persephone, Furrowed Middlebrow, not to mention Bloomsbury Reader and Macmillan Bello. Of course it makes me want to hunt for the books mentioned when I have them (somewhere) and when I don't.... Interesting but should come with a warning attached for possible impact on book spending etc.

Editado: Nov 12, 2017, 3:48am

Now reading Who was changed and who was Dead by Barbara Comyns it's very short so will finish it in the next hour or so. Dark but I'm loving it.

Editado: Nov 13, 2017, 3:15am

Have just finished Angela Thirkell's "The Headmistress" and hope to review it later today.

Nov 19, 2017, 2:57pm

I've just finished Emily Eden's The Semi-Attached Couple and the Semi-Detached House, published together in a VMC, though unrelated books. SO funny! Very influenced by Jane Austen, but they start after the marriages - written in the 1830s and 1860s respectively, I can't recommend them enough.

Nov 19, 2017, 3:44pm

>32 Stuck-in-a-Book: it's great to see your comments, Simon. Our Virago Chronological Read project will be reading those two novellas in January. A thread will be set up when things get rolling -- all are welcome to join in.

Nov 20, 2017, 7:20am

>33 lauralkeet: I adored these when I read them a decade ago (when my reviews were not so long as they are now!) https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2007/07/16/emily-eden-the-semi-attached-coup...

Nov 20, 2017, 7:51am

>32 Stuck-in-a-Book:, >33 lauralkeet:, >34 LyzzyBee: I loved these as well. I read them just after The little Ottleys and thought they made a great pairing - some things don't change even after 150 years!

Editado: Nov 27, 2017, 5:53pm

Started reading The third Miss Symons not a happy book, and I can't see it getting any cheerier but I am enjoying it - oddly enough.

Dic 14, 2017, 8:36pm

A reminder that, as mentioned above by Laura, in January there will be a group read of Emily Eden's The Semi-Attached Couple; and The Semi-Detached House (as recommended by Simon!).

All welcome!

Editado: Dic 23, 2017, 11:28am

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Dic 24, 2017, 1:53pm

Hope you all enjoy it!!

Editado: Dic 30, 2017, 12:06pm

I made my #75 for the 75 challenge F. Tennyson Jesse's very short Moonraker, and enjoyed it a lot. It's quite unexpected for a 1927 book. I had never gotten any farther with Toussaint L'Ouverture than remembering his name and Haiti. Now I have something else to explore. And need I say, the thoughts on the place of women are compelling?
Many thanks to Julie who was my VSS and gave me this one a couple of years ago.

Ene 1, 2018, 6:35pm

I have put up the threads for the group reads of Emily Eden's The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi-Detached House (and explained in the former why I've split them into two).

All welcome - hope to see you there!

The Semi-Attached Couple
The Semi-Detached House

(P.S. Yes, I know I forgot to include the author in the former's thread title! - I've already emailed to have it changed. :) )

Ene 15, 2018, 10:47am

Virago author, but not a Virago edition!

Currently reading Robinson by Muriel Spark for HeavenAi's readalong. It's really rather wonderful - I haven't read any Spark for a little while and I'd forgotten quite how good she is!

Editado: Ene 16, 2018, 8:02am

>42 kaggsy: also reading Robinson at the moment. It's excellent.

Ene 16, 2018, 12:27pm

>43 Heaven-Ali: It is, isn't it? Just finished it - so glad you started the readalong as I wouldn't have read this otherwise! :)

Ene 17, 2018, 4:26pm

>44 kaggsy: me either - I hadn't even heard of this one.

Editado: Ene 17, 2018, 6:20pm

I've not heard of this - will have to check the two volumes of Muriel Spark works I have upstairs as I can't remember what they contain. There is quite a bit of Muriel Spark stuff on Radio 4 at the moment.

My books are Spark's Satire and Spark's Europe - each contains 3 short novels in one volume. And Robinson is in Spark's Satire with Aiding and Abetting and The Abbess of Crewe. I bought them a while ago from Any Amount of Books. They were published by Canongate in 2016.

Ene 17, 2018, 5:30pm

I have some uncatalogued books from Librarything including two Muriel Spark volumes published by Canongate in 2016 (mine came from Any Amount of Books). Spark's Satire includes Robinson as well as Aiding and Abetting and The Abbess of Crewe - have just added them to my LT catalogue and juggled books to fit them in on the same shelf as my other Muriel Spark books.

Editado: Ene 20, 2018, 4:50pm

This morning I started reading Mary Oliver: a life by May Sinclair

Ene 24, 2018, 10:40pm

I'm about a quarter of the way through The Feast by Margaret Kennedy. I've never read anything by her before and so far I think this may be one of my favorite Virago books.

Ene 25, 2018, 8:36am

>49 surtsey: I read that last year for our Margaret Kennedy month and loved it!

Editado: Ene 25, 2018, 8:38am

>49 surtsey: >50 Sakerfalcon: Me too - it's absolutely wonderful! :)

Ene 30, 2018, 3:45pm

I'm most of the way through Told By An Idiot by Rose Macaulay - it's quite good.

Ene 31, 2018, 6:40am

I read After the death of Don Juan - I know STW month was December but a friend gave this to me with strong recommendations. It was very good - takes the characters from Don Giovanni and imagines what they might do next. It turns into an examination of the tensions between landowners (nobility) and peasants, reflecting what was happening in contemporary Spain as the book was being written.

Feb 1, 2018, 1:17am

Just about to start The Squire (greenie), which has been cross-published by Persephone so I'm reading it for iamnobird321's Persephone Readathon.

Feb 1, 2018, 8:27am

I hope you like it as much as I did Mike.

Editado: Feb 15, 2018, 1:40pm

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Feb 9, 2018, 6:47pm

I loved The Feast and am trying to decide which Margaret Kennedy to read next. Leaning towards Together and Apart or Night in Cold Harbour.

Has anyone read her biography, The Constant Novelist?

Editado: Oct 28, 2018, 10:27pm

The Prime of CurrerBell

I've decided to do a complete Muriel Spark read for Heaven-Ali's read-a-thon. I finished The Comforters at the end of last month and I've just started Robinson (Kindle). I'll probably do a reread of Memento Mori, though I might omit it if I'm pressed for time since I did reread it just a year or two ago.

The only Spark novels I've read over the years have been Memento Mori and Jean Brodie (both more than once) and The Girls of Slender Means and The Abbess of Crewe (both many years ago). I also read some of the stories a few years ago.

I just bought some Spark on ABE – The Novels of Muriel Spark: Volume One (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ... The Comforters ... The Only Problem ... The Driver's Seat ... Memento Mori) and The Novels of Muriel Spark: Volume Two (Loitering With Intent ... The Girls of Slender Means ... The Abbess of Crewe ... The Bachelors ... The Ballad of Peckham Rye) in a gorgeous Houghton-Mifflin boxed set, along with Muriel Spark Omnibus 4 (Territorial Rights ... The Hothouse By the East River ... Robinson ... The Public Image), this latter of which has not yet arrived.

These omnibus volumes wind up duplicating some of my single-volume Sparks. Once I start pulling things together I'll be wanting to give away any duplicates. Do we have a give-away page here on the VMC group? Or I'll just post to the Salon?


Jan 31 ... The Comforters 4****, 1957 (in Omnibus 1)
The "voices" that Caroline hears remind me of Spark's third novel, Memento Mori with its telephone calls, but the plot of The Comforters is more complex because of Louisa and her "gang." For a novel as short as The Comforters (and Spark tended more toward novellas than novels), this greater complexity is a bit of a weakness, but nevertheless and especially for a first novel The Comforters is a definite 4****.
Feb 11 ... Robinson 3½***, 1958 (in Omnibus 4)
In this, Spark's second novel, she moves away from the magical realism of The Comforters and instead writes a "mystery" (well, something of a "mystery" anyway) with a twist ending. Unfortunately, the twist isn't as disturbing, as provoking, as edgy, as in The Girls of Slender Means (at least as I recall Slender Means from having read it years and years ago). Spark will return to magical realism in Memento Mori, one of her best novels, but the "time out" that she takes in Robinson is worth it if for nothing else than to refresh herself for Memento Mori. Robinson isn't that great a novel – I found the twist ending disappointingly flat – but it's still, especially for what's only a second novel, worth 3½***.
Feb 19 ... Memento Mori 5*****, 1959 (in Omnibus 1) — REREAD
See my review posted 28 April 2012 after a previous reread. I love this novel more and more each time I reread itl I'm surprised it's been nearly six year since my last reread. Tempus fugit.
Mar 3 ... The Ballad of Peckham Rye 3***, 1960 (in Omnibus 2)
I'm in a generous mood and I do love Muriel Spark, so I'll give this one 3***. I very much liked the character of Dougal Douglas. In fact, if he really was the devil (or some such other diabolic spirit), then he's the kind of devil that Updike should have but failed to portray in the character of Daryll in Updike's very unsuccessful Witches of Eastwick; and if The Ballad of Peckham Rye were ever made into a movie, my ideal image of Dougal Douglas would be a young Jack Nicholson. Still, the conclusion is just too confusing for Peckham Rye to merit more than 3***.
Mar 9 ... The Bachelors 4****, 1960 (in Omnibus 2)
"The Purloined Letter"? ~~~ No, this isn't a take on Poe, though the plot's intricacies do include a forged letter that makes its way from hand to hand. But the intricacies of The Bachelors, unlike those in Robinson, succeed – partly through Spark's satirical skill with conversational dialogue and partly through her satirical depiction of the "bachelors." The book's opening sentence ("Daylight was appearing over London, the great city of bachelors.") reminds me of the opening sentence of Charlotte Brontë's Shirley, creating an image of Anglican curates descending like a swarm of locusts over Brontëan Yorkshire. If you're going to insist on political correctness, you may find Spark's depiction of homosexuality offensive, but you can't escape its humor; and the larger satire is Spark's satire of human hypocrisy, especially in the comparison of the lesser and illegal thievery of the con-man Patrick Seton and the greater and legalized thievery of the lawyer Martin Bowles . . . and all of the sterile "bachelors," male and female, wed and (mostly) unwed, inhabiting Spark's great metropolis.
Mar 15 ... The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 5*****, 1961 (in Omnibus 1) – REREAD
Probably Spark's greatest novel, but I personally have a bit of a preference for Memento Mori, perhaps because Jean Brodie pales for me as a novel compared with Maggie Smith's Oscar-winning performance in the movie. (And let me add that one of the greatest omissions in Academy history is that Pam Franklin wasn't even nominated for her performance as Sandy Stranger.) One of these lifetimes I'll have to get around to watching the miniseries with Geraldine McEwan.

Although, of course, it is both in the novel and the movie that it is Sandy who "betrays" Jean Brodie, the book and the movie do not have the same ending – the book, interestingly, having (I think) an ending more sexualized than political, and definitely an ending more ambiguous than that of the movie.
Apr 2 ... The Girls of Slender Means 4½****, 1963 (in Omnibus 2) – REREAD
I read this years ago, not long after my first readings of Jean Brodie and Memento Mori, loved it then, and love it on this reread. The light-hearted tone followed by the surprise block-buster ending is extremely effective. The surprise ending (regarding which nothing more, to avoid SPOILER) does not disappoint on a reread, because knowing the ending lends an elegiac tone to the story.
Apr 14 ... The Mandelbaum Gate 3***, 1965 (in Omnibus 3)
Definitely not one of my favorite Sparks. Perhaps it's the length, definitely non-Sparkian; perhaps it's that it's rather atypical (reminds me a bit of Graham Greene, likely because of the touch of espionage involved, and that's nothing against Greene but only an observation on this book's atypicality). I don't detect that much Sparkian humor here either, or at least not by my taste, though I was amused by the theft of the clothing (saying no more to avoid SPOILER) at the end of the story. Somehow, the various narrative threads don't hold well together, particularly the disconnected story of Freddy's mother back in England.
Apr 15 ... The Public Image 4****, 1968 (in Omnibus 4)
The vapidity of the film industry. Far better than Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust. Told in a flat, vapid narration that matches the theme. A husband's revenge – with a superb ending, as the actress finally gains her revenge on her husband and his friend.
Apr 26 ... The Driver’s Seat 5*****, 1970 (in Omnibus 1)
Weird, but I really like it. A young-ish woman – though ambiguously (like so much else in this novella) of somewhat indeterminate age – is murdered on a vacation trip. That's no SPOILER, because we know she's going to be murdered, it's just a question of how it's going to happen, and Lise seemingly is in the "driver's seat" leading up to the murder. Narrated in the present tense, it's got the sound (to me) of a police report, though it isn't. Weird. Absurdist. But I really like it. Somehow its absurdism reminds me of Shirley Jackson's story "My Life with R.H. Macy."
Apr 29 ... Not To Disturb 4****, 1971 (in Omnibus 3)
Upstairs Downstairs — and the Downstairs revolts.

Not to Disturb continues along with the use of present-tense narration as in The Driver's Seat, but in Not to Disturb the present tense gives the sense of stage directions – and that's precisely what Not to Disturb sounds like, a dramatization. The plot is sufficiently outré that I can't give it more than 4**** but at novella length it's short enough that Spark's spoofing of servants, the upper classes, and mystery novels doesn't pall from overlength.
May 25 ... The Hothouse by the East River 4****, 1973 (in Omnibus 4)
Weird. I've seen it compared with Memento Mori, but it's definitely not as good. Be patient with it, though, because the twist doesn't appear until the final chapter. Elsa and Paul, along with several of the other characters, seem to be dead, having been killed in a V-rocket blast during World War II. Some of the other characters, such as Elsa and Paul's son and daughter, may be in their imagination and never have been born.
Jul 19 ... The Abbess of Crewe 4****, 1974 (in Omnibus 2) — REREAD
A spoof. Watergate in a nunnery. Film adaptation as Nasty Habits {Wiki} starring Glenda Jackson. I ought to get around to a rewatch of the movie one of these lifetimes. My recollection is that it was a bit more pointed in its equation of its characters with Watergate figures. Considering, though, that the novel was published in 1974 and the film released three years later, the movie had more Watergate history and characters to work with than did Spark's novel.
Jul 27 ... The Takeover 4****, 1976 (in Omnibus 3)
A romp of a satire – the super-rich, their playthings, scam artists, a New Age cult, and a couple of Jesuits.
Sep 1 ... Territorial Rights 5*****, 1979 (in Omnibus 4)
Spark at her best, in a "thriller" (if you can call it that) of sex, blackmail, and intrigue spilt over from World War II — all set in Venice but in a much more light-hearted spirit than the "thriller" of The Mandelbaum Gate. And there's a wife back in England, but she makes much more sense as part of the plot than the back-in-England mother of TMG.

It's a "mosaic" of characters, and I use the word "mosaic" very deliberately, as Spark notes in her closing lines: "[T]he palaces of Venice rode in great state and the mosaics stood with the same patience that had gone into their formation, piece by small piece." Mosaic was one of Spark's favorite forms of visual art (as discussed in an essay in The Golden Fleece: Essays), and Spark seem to suggest that, even if her individual characters as mosaic-like pieces will pass away, the overall pattern will endure.

I seem to recall having read somewhere that Territorial Rights was Spark's own personal favorite of her novels, and although I would place both Memento Mori and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie above it, I can understand Spark's affection for TR.
Sep 29 ... Loitering with Intent 5*****, 1981 (in Omnibus 2)
The most autobiographical of Spark's novels – and don't read it until you've read Curriculum Vitae.

Aspiring young novelist Fleur Talbot goes to work as a secretary for a society of "autobiographers" – and, in a spirit of postmodern convolutedness, Fleur's novel become the basis of real-life characters whose autobiographies then turn on their authors. (And who are the "authors" of the autobiographies? The actual subjects of the autobiographies? Fleur? The villain Sir Quentin?). Includes pointed satirization of Spark's onetime partner and co-author, the poet and critic Derek Stanford.

The most interesting (and charming) character is the elderly Edwina, the villain's seemingly loopy but connivingly clever mother, who takes up with Fleur.
Oct 2 ... The Only Problem 5*****, 1984 (in Omnibus 1)
Millionaire-by-inheritance Harvey Gotham is ensconced in France, writing a monograph on the Book of Job, when his life takes on comically(?) disastrous consequences, including the accusation of terrorism lodged by the French police against his separated-wife Effie. Will Harvey regain his good(?) fortunes as did Job?
Oct 3 ... A Far Cry From Kensington 3***, 1988
Out of respect for Dame Muriel, 3*** – but it's a roman à clef that's clever, yes, but more catty than clever. Two portrayals of Spark, one as the youthful editor "Mrs Hawkins" and another as the older novelist "Emma Loy" but the main focus is on jabs at the character represented by Spark's youthful partner Derek Stanford. I think this is going to come off a bit blah if you don't know a fair bit of Spark's biography, in which case you should enjoy some of the cleverness (including some jabs at the character of Emma Loy, the older personification of Spark).
Oct 4 ... Symposium 4½****, 1990
She attracts suspicious deaths like a corpse attracts flies. But is she a murderer? What matters? Intent or act?

A suggestion. This novel contains quite a number of characters packed into less than 200 pages. Ten of them are seated around a dinner table as the novel opens, and you might find it useful to draw yourself a configuration of their seating arrangement. Then draw yourself a family tree for Margaret. The seating arrangement in particular isn't essential to the novel, but drawing it will give you some familiarity with the various characters. And drawing Margaret's family tree will give you a familiarity with her Murchie relatives. Then make yourself a note to remember Hilda, Luke, Corby, and Charterhouse.

That's pretty much the cast of characters, but as you can see, it gets a bit crowded.
Oct 5 ... Reality and Dreams 3½***, 1996
This one just didn't do very much for me. It's not at all bad, but it's a rather thin rehash of the "reality vs dream" theme that's fairly common to Spark's novels. There are a couple of echoes of Jean Brodie and The Girls of Slender Means, but nowhere near as good and regardin g which no more to avoid SPOILER.
Oct 11 ... Aiding and Abetting 3***, 2000
The fugitive Lord Lucan and a "double" along with a fugitive religious con artist working as a psychiatrist. Compared to Spark's earlier works, just 3***.
The Finishing School 3***, 2004
Absolutely not in any way comparable to Jean Brodie, this final novel(la), while it contains some satirical humor, is very poorly wrapped up in its conclusion, with a lengthy list of the future careers of the students and other characters. And frankly, who really cares about most of the students anyway?

Child of Light: Mary Shelley, 1951

Emily Brontë: Her Life and Work (with Derek Standford), 1953

Voices at Play, 1961

May 30 ... Doctors of Philosophy: A Play 4****, 1963
Spark's only play, a very interesting and little known comedy that's going to require rereading. A particularly interesting article appears in the Scottish Review of Books (10-Feb-2018, and note that this seems to be paywall protected but does allow, I think, three free articles).

Two aspects of this play jumped out at me as I read it. One is Leonora's "definite sense of being watched.... A definite sense of being observed and listened to by an audience.... An invisible audience. Somewhere outside. Looking at all of us and waiting to see what's going to happen." (II, ii). This definitely calls to mind Spark's very first novel, The Comforters.

Another aspect, and somewhat related to the first, is a breaking of the "fourth wall." It's not that the characters address the audience, rather that they themselves interact with the scenery and stage settings as if recognizing that the stage settings are themselves somehow fragile(?), not entirely "real." The author of the Scottish Review of Books article rightly identifies this with "the philosophical world view of Luigi Pirandello, and indeed the convergence with, if not the influence of, a Pirandellian notion of elusive truth, of shifting personality, of the uncertain boundaries between appearance and reality...."

The Scottish Review of Books article is definitely worth checking out after reading this play, and you should be able to access it for free unless you've already used the SRB site enough times to invoke the paywall.

I'm curious, though, whether this play – because of its thematic complexity – might read better than it acts.
July 18 ... The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: A Drama in Three Acts 5*****, 1969 (with Jay Presson Allen)
Closer in plot and theme to the movie than to the novel, emphasizing the political. Sister Helena appears onstage a bit more than she does in the novel.
August 2 ... Curriculum Vitae: A Volume of Autobiography 5*****, 1992
I've rated this as highly as I have because of the earlier chapters – primarily Spark's very early childhood followed by her school days in Edinburgh, secondarily her short-lived marriage and life in Rhodesia – which I rate 5*****-plus. I wasn't as impressed by the later chapters dealing with her early literary life and ending with the first novel(s), though they might have been of more interest if Spark had followed up with a second autobiographical volume.

While Spark emphasizes that she has thoroughly "verified" her autobiographical life, the memories of early childhood remind me of Mary McCarthy's semi-novelistic Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (though Spark's childhood was far happier than McCarthy's and, of course, was not Catholic). And for some reason Spark's early autobiographical memories remind me of Joyce's Portrait – although she doesn't literally write in "Baby Tuckoo" fashion, these earliest memories are portrayed in a novelistically modernist fashion more so than in a literally autobiographical style.

An interesting thought ... compare the WW2 experiences in propaganda work of Spark, Penelope Fitzgerald, and Antonia White.

I read this out of a "sense of duty" to the Spark read-a-thon, but now I'm positively delighted that I did!
The Essence of the Brontës, 1993
This is one I don't plan to buy or to read. Looking through an online table of contents, it looks like most of this consists of materials available elsewhere in Spark bibliographia.
June 8 ... All the Poems of Muriel Spark, 2003
Whew. Just about 125 pages with 71 poems (the last four of them from the Latin of Horace and Catullus, facing pages of Latin with fairly free translations by Spark). Thus most of the poems are a page or less in length (with each new poem beginning a new page), with the final pre-Latin poem, "The Ballad of the Fanfarlo," running to twenty pages.

So these poems by and large are quite short – but they're also quite dense and difficult reading. They might have been better saved until I'd read Spark's autobiography, Curriculum Vitae, and also the Martin Stannard biography, in case they give some idea of the setting of Spark's poetry. I'm also planning on reading the Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark, which I think contains an essay on the poetry.

Hence, I'm not going to rate this one at this time; but I plan to revisit it in December as a closing of this read-a-thon.
June 25 ... All the Stories of Muriel Spark 4****, 2014
          Open to the Public: New & Collected Stories, 1997
          The Stories of Muriel Spark, 1985
All the Stories of Muriel Spark (41 stories available in soft cover and e-book but not in hard cover) is the most complete, while the last four stories are missing from Open to the Public. The earlier The Stories of Muriel Spark contains only 27 stories, but these by and large are among the best.
Aug 26 ... The Golden Fleece: Essays 3½***, 2014
My somewhat low rating of this collection isn't for want of liking some of the pieces immensely, it's simply that (like most collections of this sort) some pieces are outstanding while others are humdrum. Particularly interesting, at least based on my own bias, is Spark's considerable attention to the Brontës with especial attention to Emily.

Positively not recommended until you've first read Curriculum Vitae and have a basic grasp of Spark's fiction, including the short stories. Also, be aware that Spark thought of herself first and foremost as a poet writing in novel form, which is particularly relevant to her treatment of Emily Brontë as poet.

Oct 28 ... Martin Stannard, Muriel Spark: The Biography 5*****, 2010
Superb critical biography, primarily covering Spark's life but with a reasonable amount of critical commentary as well. Stannard was chosen by Spark as her biographer after she read and admired a biography he wrote of Evelyn Waugh, but this biography was published after Spark's death and thus not subject to the censorship that Spark could sometimes obsessively apply to details of her life.
Martin Gardiner (ed.), Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark 4½****, 2010
Excellent resource for a broad overview of the Spark canon, with particular emphasis on the earlier works. I do wish there had been a little more attention to the poetry, though, particularly with some "close readings" of two or three of the poems.

As usual in a work of this sort, some of the essays are written in excessive "acadamese," but that's to be expected.
June 28 ... Margaret Drabble, Snapshots of Muriel Spark (TLS) 3***, 26-Jun-2018
Primarily a series of quickie summaries of the novels.
Muriel Spark Special Issue, The Bottle Imp Issue 22 (online only), Nov 2017
  • Editorial, That Promethean Spark
    introductory essay
  • Zoë Strachan, ‘Memento Mori’ By Muriel Spark
    intro to the Nov 2017 Polygon edition
  • Marilyn Reizbaum, A Fruitless Fable? Spark’s Ghost In The Machine
    close reading of a 1948 poem
  • Alistair Braidwood, From Page To Screen: The Strange Case Of ‘The Driver’s Seat’
    The novella? Great. But Braidwood questions (while respecting) the quality of the movie and of Elizabeth Taylor's performance.
  • Gerard Carruthers, Ghost Writing: The Work Of Muriel Spark
    --- Was Spark "Scottish"? Were Boswell and Carlyle?
    --- Spark as a writer of "women's books."
    --- Spark as a "Catholic writer."
    --- "...impeding human free will is wicked because this free will is God-given and is a reflection of His own centre of being"

    At 2200 words, quite a long article compared to the others on this website, but still, there's too much packed into here to be covered in the limited space.
  • Michael Gardiner, Spark’s Balladisation Of Work
  • Eleanor Byrne, The Go-Away Bird: Muriel Spark In Southern Rhodesia
  • Willy Maley, The Right Woman For The Job? Muriel Spark’s ‘The Only Problem’

Editado: Feb 11, 2018, 3:49am

>58 CurrerBell: wow good luck so glad you're joining in. I have just started reading Memento Mori after reading The Comforters and Robinson last month.

There should be a duplicates thread somewhere if you look down the message board of threads -it may not have been used for a while though so may have dropped down a bit.

Edited to say

Here it is if you need it.


Feb 15, 2018, 4:20pm

I just started reading Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards.

Feb 20, 2018, 12:31am

Just finished a reread of Memento Mori (a Virago) for Heaven-Ali's Muriel Spark readathon. That's the last of Spark's novels of the 1950s, and Ali has the 1960s scheduled for Mar-Apr.

However, I think I'm going to start in on the 1960s early, if I have time this month, since there are six for the 1960s (and six for the 1970s, May-Jun, as well), and I'm aiming for a complete Spark marathon.

I say, I'm going to start the Spark 1960s early "if I have time," because I've started Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates's "Marilyn Monroe novel," for the Reading Through Time group's February theme of Going Hollywood, and Blonde is a 738-page chunkster. Plus, having just read The Brimming Cup, I sort of want to get to its prequel, Rough-Hewn, for the February Dorothy Canfield Fisher monthly read.

Blonde isn't itself a Virago, I don't think, though Oates is a Virago author.

Mar 14, 2018, 4:54pm

i have just finished reading Crossrigs by Jane and Mary Findlater. I really enjoyed it and have added it to my list of favorites. It is one of the list of Virago 19th Century authors that I have been reading. I find them fascinating especially as an interesting view of women's lives of that era and the attitudes of the society of that time toward them. I also read East Lynne by Mrs Henry Wood. Can you imagine a female writer of the current era labeling herself as Mrs.........

Mar 15, 2018, 3:55am

I really enjoyed Crossrigs when I read it

Editado: Mar 17, 2018, 9:51am

>62 kayclifton: I loved Crossrigs.

I read Mad Puppetstown for read Ireland month this could be my favourite of hers. I know not everyone likes her because of the hunting scenes but this was a joy of a read.

Review here:


Now reading Celia by E H Young which is excellent.

Mar 19, 2018, 6:21pm

There will be a group read of Frances Burney's Camilla next month, following up our previous reads of Evelina and Burney's Virago release, Cecilia. Anyone who is interested is more than welcome to join in. I will post again when the thread is up.

Abr 1, 2018, 6:56pm

The thread for the group read of Camilla is now up - all welcome!


Abr 2, 2018, 7:04pm

I have just put down The New Moon With the Old by Dodie Smith. I didn't finish it. It's not one that I'll add to my reread list. In fact, I couldn't stand the characters and the plots were annoying.

Editado: Abr 15, 2018, 10:20pm

I just finished The Public Image (4****) for Heaven-Ali's Muriel Spark centennial read-a-thon. Not my favorite Spark, but still quite good. I read it in the Omnibus 4 volume, which also includes Robinson, Territorial Rights, and The Hothouse by the East River.

The vapidity of an actress's "public image," the revenge her husband takes on her, and a concluding "revenge" (if you will, and this is very vague to avoid SPOILER) of the actress's own.

I'm attempting a reading of the entire Spark canon – at least all the prose fiction (including short stories), poetry, and some of the occasional writings, along with the Martin Stannard biography. I'm keeping up a good pace so far, reading in order of publication, and next up will be The Driver's Seat.

ETA: I also, just yesterday, read Spark's The Mandelbaum Gate (3***), another Virago which I read in a hardcover edition.

Abr 16, 2018, 4:46am

I'm reading Nightingale wood by Stella Gibbons, which is a light, funny read. Not as good as Cold Comfort Farm, but fun.

Abr 17, 2018, 3:55am

I'm about to start The Passion of New Eve which I last read YEARS ago, for Kaggsy's 1977 Club.

Abr 17, 2018, 5:02pm

Good luck ........ 😱😁😁

Abr 18, 2018, 4:56pm

Now reading Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood for the 1977 Club. I am getting on better with it than I did with the Angela Carter....

Abr 20, 2018, 10:16am

Oh dear, didn't get very far with the Passion of New Eve before I had to discard it in horror and disgust!

Editado: Abr 20, 2018, 1:43pm

"And another one gone, and another one gone,
And another one bites the dust"

No longer feeling quite so alone in my 'love/hate' thing with Angela Carter''.

Abr 21, 2018, 9:43am

Me three. Read two (in case I'd picked up her worst book first) and decided life was too short to do more. Just not my cup of tea.

Abr 22, 2018, 3:41pm

She's a flavor I haven't tried yet. Y'all are not encouraging me. In fact, I don't seem to get to my VMCs this year, doggone it.

Editado: Abr 23, 2018, 1:46pm

I did love Carter's The Magic Toyshop. She was bang on with her characterizations and I thought the story exciting and brilliantly written.

Abr 26, 2018, 3:59pm

Yesterday I finished reading a new VMC edition of Faces in the Water by Janet Frame. What an extraordinary book.

Abr 27, 2018, 9:11am

>78 Heaven-Ali: I agree. I've found everything I've read so far by Frame to be outstanding, if uncomfortable.

Abr 27, 2018, 4:45pm

>58 CurrerBell: so enjoying your Spark updates - you're doing so well. My phase 2 round up post will come out in a day or two and I will include your thoughts, as I did last time. Not sure if you saw that post but I do like to acknowledge everyone taking part. I just finished The Ballad of Peckham Rye a couple of hours ago, my third novel for the 1960s.

Mayo 13, 2018, 2:15pm

I've just read and really enjoyed Hunt the Slipper by Violet Trefusis - very funny, though perhaps a little less interesting as the love triangle takes over.

Mayo 14, 2018, 4:29am

>81 Stuck-in-a-Book: I enjoyed that one too, despite disliking love triangle plots.

Mayo 19, 2018, 5:21pm

One of the important reasons for my joining the Virago list was my enjoyment of reading books by women and also having mainly women as the major protagonists. I had speculated that men virtually always write female main characters and I found an article about this phenomenon and also that many female authors also have male protagonists. I found an article in the Guardian Weekly confirming my speculations. it was written by Alison Flood and published on 19 February 2018. It's worth reading. This is an excerpt from it:

The decline in women writing is part of the reason for the drop in women characters. According to the academics’ analysis, in books by men, women occupy on average just a quarter to a third of the character-space. In books by women, “the division is much closer to equal”. The analysis finds: “This gap between the genders is depressingly stable across 200 years.”

Kate Mosse, the bestselling historical novelist and founder of the Women’s prize for fiction, said that she was not surprised by the results. “When we were setting up the prize, we discovered that when a book by a woman won a prize, it was more likely to have a male protagonist,” she said. “This huge piece of research backs that up.”

Mayo 28, 2018, 7:19am

Not reading a VMC just at the moment, though I have read a couple this month, and just pasted in my reviews for

Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

I've also read (though not yet reviewed) The Writers as readers collection Virago sent me - what a treat.

Mayo 28, 2018, 7:38am

>84 Heaven-Ali: Got so much to read right now (including everything by Dame Muriel! just finished The Hothouse by the East River and a reread of The Abbess of Crewe is next), but I've wish-listed Writers as Readers.

Mayo 28, 2018, 11:16am

Just finished The Constant Nymph by Margaret Kennedy, which was a disappointment after reading The Feast, and have now started Together and Apart.

Currently listening to the Backlisted podcast episode on My Antonia, with Hermione Lee: https://www.backlisted.fm/episodes/67-willa-cather-my-ntonia

Mayo 28, 2018, 11:46am

>86 surtsey: I do wonder if that's why I've only ever read The Feast - I loved it so much that I'm scared that anything else will be a disappointment!

Mayo 28, 2018, 3:41pm

>85 CurrerBell: I'm reviewing Writers as Readers on my blog tomorrow.

Mayo 29, 2018, 4:51am

>86 surtsey:, >87 kaggsy: I thought Together and apart was excellent. Hope you enjoy it.

Mayo 29, 2018, 8:20am

I started with The Constant Nymph which was great until it sort of died on me halfway through. I really must look for The Feast!

Jun 4, 2018, 1:58pm

Currently reading one of the new VMC anniversary editions, Collected Stories by Grace Paley

Jun 11, 2018, 4:59pm

I recently read The Comforters by Muriel Spark and really liked it. A few years ago I read her Memento Mori and Loitering With Intent. In rereading both of the latter I found that I enjoyed them more the second time. I like the quirkiness of her characters which I might not have appreciated with the initial reading. I am now rereading A Far Cry From Kensington

Jun 17, 2018, 4:42am

>92 kayclifton: I read A Far cry from Kensington last year, it's my favourite of hers I think. I intend to read Loitering with Intent later in the year.

Jun 17, 2018, 4:44am

Yesterday I finished reading Joanna Godden by Sheila Kaye-Smith - a wonderful VMC title I loved it. I have another Sheila Kaye-Smith VMC tbr - Susan Spray which I am looking forward to reading at some point in the future.

Jun 17, 2018, 9:53am

A Far Cry From Kensington is also my fave with The Mandelbaum Gate coming a close second. I don't love all of her stuff but when she gets to me, she gets to me. I read a bunch of her stuff in the 60s - commuting into Central London from Lewisham on the train, buying most of my books at the W H Smiths at Elephant and Castle where I changed from BR to the Tube.

Jun 25, 2018, 5:12pm

I have just finished reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. it's portrayal of the life of an African-American woman in the segregated south was riveting. She also incorporates details from her real life in the book. I have spent time in the area that she describes in the book and was interested to learn details about its history.

Her Wikipedia bio said that her work had been ignored for decades by the literary world until interest was revived by the novelist Alice Walker. Virago's role in promoting the work of female authors who have been neglected has probably been important for current women novelists in addition to readers.

Jun 26, 2018, 6:32pm

Just letting people know that there will be a group read of Frances Burney's final novel, The Wanderer, in August. I will post more details closer to the time; as always, all welcome.

Jul 2, 2018, 5:27pm

> 97 lyzard:

I think that the full title of Burney's novel is The Wanderer or Female Difficulties It is rather
amusing. Other Victorian women's work's also have qualifying terms similar to it. I wonder if there was some significance to it during that period? Another example is Burney's: Cecelia or: Memoirs of an Heiress.

Editado: Jul 2, 2018, 7:09pm

It was pretty standard throughout the 18th century to have an 'explanatory' title or subtitle, sometimes to imply that the novel was telling a true story (since novels themselves were still widely disapproved), sometimes to give more of an indication of what kind of story was being told. For example, the full title of Tom Jones is The History Of Tom Jones, A Foundling; while Clarissa is Clarissa; or, The History Of A Young Lady.

All four of Burney's novels do this (though The Wanderer was published in 1814, she was very much of the 18th century). Having read it before, I can only say that "Female Difficulties" is putting it mildly. :)

In the 19th century the practice became less common, but you still see it in particular in children's stories and other didactic literature (probably to reassure parents / governesses).

Jul 12, 2018, 5:06pm

> lyzard:

Thanks for your nice reply. Your information is fascinating. I have Eliza Haywood on my TBR list She's not a VMC novelist so I I wonder if you are familiar with her? The novel Love in Excess : or the fatal enquiry is my choice. I am able to have access to the World Catalogue through my local library and obtain many books from college and university libraries. It's a wonderful service. Her novels are at two colleges only a few miles from my library and the librarians handle the transaction and there is no fee. The state of Massachusetts picks up the tab.

I'd be interested in any further information that you have about the novelists of that period or possibly 19th Century.
I also think that I'll limit my reading to female novelists.

I just noticed that Burney's The Wanderer is the August group read so I'll postpone Haywood's book and request The Wanderer. It is at a local women's college. I am looking forward to the discussion about the book.

Jul 12, 2018, 8:36pm

>100 kayclifton:

It will be great to have you join us, Kay!

Eliza Hayward is an important early 18th century author, although she suffered from the tightening morality of the time and was the target of abuse for her writing (and that she wrote at all). What's really interesting about her is that after making her reputation with "scandal stories" like Love In Excess in the 1720s and 1730s, and being hounded out of the public sphere for it, she reappeared in the 1740s and reinvented herself as a didactic / moral novelist.

You're very luck to have such a library service! I have an academic library I use, and also access to the Eighteen Century Collections Online service through my State Library.

Jul 31, 2018, 6:53pm

The thread is now up for the group read of Frances Burney's The Wanderer - here.

All welcome!

Ago 2, 2018, 2:47am

I'll be starting Barren Ground very soon for AV/AA

Sep 1, 2018, 10:34pm

I just finished Muriel Spark's Territorial Rights (5*****) for Ali's centenary read-a-thon.

Sep 17, 2018, 12:58pm

Recently read Told by an Idiot by Rose Macaulay. So good I thought.


Sep 17, 2018, 12:59pm

>104 CurrerBell: ooh that's one of the ones I haven't read. 5 stars! Glad you enjoyed it.

Sep 23, 2018, 2:48pm

I just finished a reread of Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons and enjoyed it. It's another work with a

child as the main character and I am usually partial to books of that type. I intend to read her

Charms for the Easy Life which I haven't read before so am looking forward to it.

Sep 29, 2018, 10:19pm

I just finished Rumer Godden's The River in a Virago-published hardcover edition. 3½*** This one was a little weaker than Godden's other coming-of-age and India-based novels. (The edition includes a couple short stories to pad out the paging.)

Oct 22, 2018, 3:55pm

I have just begun a reread of The Lost Traveller and The Sugar House both by Antonia White. She is one of my

favorite Virago authors so am looking forward to the reread.

Oct 22, 2018, 5:00pm

>109 kayclifton: My third favorite novel (after Jane Eyre and The Master and Margarita) is Frost in May. I'm planning on a reread of her short-story anthology Strangers for the November Virago author read and I'm also going to get to some of the posthumous work, As Once in May and the diaries.

One of my all-time favorite short stories is in that Strangers anthology – as I recall, it's titled "The Exile." It's a monologue by a nut case who wants to be a nun and the bishop won't have anything to do with her. It may help catching the humor if you grew up pre-Vatican2 Catholic.

Incidentally, there's a biography by Jane Dunn which I gave a 3½*** review. It could have been much better, but Dunn didn't pay enough attention to White's writing, focusing interminably on her personal life.

Oct 28, 2018, 10:04pm

Biography of a Virago author: Muriel Spark: The Biography by Martin Stannard, which I just finished and which wraps up Heaven Ali's centenary read-a-thon challenge, though I do have some related Sparkiana that I want to read and that Ali hasn't included. Plus, I want to reread the poems and maybe reread some (but probably not all) of the short stories.

Oct 29, 2018, 5:48am

I've just started Lives like loaded guns, a biography of Emily Dickinson which is published by Virago although not a VMC.

Oct 31, 2018, 2:55pm

>111 CurrerBell: I bought on my Kindle after hearing some of it on the radio and because it was on offer Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark - I liked what I'd heard. Still need to read both that and the Martin Stannard. I particularly liked Loitering with Intent and A Far Cry from Kensington as well as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

>112 Sakerfalcon: I have a copy of Lives Like Loaded Guns TBR.

Nov 2, 2018, 8:17pm

>111 CurrerBell: you have done amazingly well reading all the Spark's you have. Glad you were able to join in.

Editado: Nov 2, 2018, 8:18pm

Currently reading The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. Really enjoying it.

Editado: Nov 2, 2018, 8:54pm

Currently reading Provincial Daughter by R. M. Dashwood (although not in the Virago edition--I believe this copy is from the first edition to be released in the USA in 1960).

Nov 7, 2018, 5:32am

Currently reading The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy.
Sally Jay Gorce is quite a character.

Nov 9, 2018, 7:51pm

Currently reading Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondeley. Really enjoying it and very interested in seeing where the story goes.

Nov 10, 2018, 7:28am

I'm reading The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, the fourth (final) book in her Manawaka Quartet. It is absolutely fabulous (I almost wrote "divine," LOL). I've enjoyed all the books in the quartet but this one is shaping up to be my favorite.

Nov 23, 2018, 11:54pm

Oh, Laura, if The Diviners is better than the first three, it must be completely divine! MUST get back to Manawaka!
When I finish one more (whichever one it may be), I thoroughly intend to read I'm Not Complaining. It's been on my "Read Now" table all year.

Nov 24, 2018, 7:49am

>120 LizzieD: Peggy, I ended up giving The Diviners 5 stars, and highly recommend a return to Manawaka. I liked I'm not Complaining as well, so you can't go wrong there either.

Nov 24, 2018, 9:29am

Ditto on Margaret Laurence. I read the first book when it was re-named Rachel Rachel, to tie in with the movie version. I had no idea there were other great books by this woman until I read the Virago ones. I also really liked I'm Not Complaining.

Nov 25, 2018, 2:53am

Another fan of I'm not complaining here! And yes, Margaret Laurence's Manawaka books are excellent. I just need to read A jest of God and then I'll have read them all.

Editado: Dic 2, 2018, 4:39pm

Earlier I finished A Saturday Life by Radclyffe Hall. Going to start reading Olivia by Olivia (Dorothy Strachey) when I get to bed.

Dic 4, 2018, 10:45pm

You're all right! I am reading *Not Complaining* with pleasure. In fact, I'm off to get back to it right ow!

Ene 3, 2019, 11:55pm

Hi (waving), this is Joyce .... I'm a mostly absent member from this group. My life doesn't allow me to read much these days. But I was just looking back on my reading year from 2018 and deciding which book most stuck in my mind, and it's Virago author Rumer Godden's The Battle of the Villa Fiorita. I had a lot of problems with it when I read it, but it was still fun, and it really stuck with me.

Ene 4, 2019, 10:23am

>126 Nickelini: *waves back* Hello Joyce, I hope life is keeping you busy in a good way 😊

Ene 13, 2019, 5:49pm

Hello, all.

Not strictly Virago, but I thought some of you might be interested in a planned group read of Maria Edgeworth's Belinda, which will be happening next month. This is a follow-up to our group reads of the novels of Frances Burney, part of a spontaneous 'important female authors before Jane Austen' project. I will post again when the thread is up. All welcome!

Ene 14, 2019, 5:46pm

I had recently begun reading Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston but stopped after a few chapters as I wasn't enjoying it. I had previously read her Their Eyes Were Watching God which

I liked very much. After giving up on Jonah's Gourd Vine, I began reading another southern novelist Ellen Glasgow's Virginia and also gave up on that. It was interesting works by writers from

opposite ends of the racial spectrum but Glasgow's book contained a lot of racism which I hadn't found in two others of her books both of which I enjoyed.

Ene 16, 2019, 3:28am

I found Jonah's Gourd Vine hard work but did get through it. And I agree on Virginia, although again I managed to push through it.

Ene 16, 2019, 9:56pm

After finishing the Mary Hocking trilogy, I moved on to The Very Dead of Winter, which was surprisingly mediocre. The most notable issue was the belabored characterization. Now that I think of it, there was also the same sort of thing in the trilogy - lots of telling, not showing, about the characters' psychologies, but somehow in those it was much more successful, the commentary much more insightful. The Fairleys et al felt real and will stick with me for a long time. I thought the mother of TVDOW was oddly written, and the rest were pretty forgettable.

That said, I'm still interested in reading more of her books. Maybe the earlier ones?

Now reading Barbara Comyns' The Juniper Tree.

Ene 21, 2019, 11:31pm

Oh dear. I was going to jump into Mrs. Miniver for the 40s read. Instead, last week I was telling a group of women about The Enchanted April, and one of them asked for the title again yesterday. That did it. I'm happily in the gardens with Lotty and Co. and am enchanted all over again.
Sarah, I find I always like Mary Hocking, and I liked *VDofW* more than you did. I'm glad that she was prolific, and I'll eventually read them all if I can get them and if mind and eyes hold out. I loved Letters from Constance if that's any help.

Ene 22, 2019, 6:25am

>132 LizzieD: Are the Macmillan Bello reissues of many of Mary Hocking's books available in the US? - they are Kindle and pb.

I was about to say I'm not reading a Virago, but actually.... The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers is published by Virago. The author was a German Jewish communist who managed to escape the Nazis more than once, living in France and then Mexico and then returning to East Berlin. A very abridged translation was published in 1942 and adapted into a film starring Spencer Tracy two years later, but this new translation is of the unabridged novel.

Ene 22, 2019, 2:12pm

So far this month I have read Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence, which is so marvelous. But then I find all of her works very good.
And also I have done a 'reread' of Anne of Green Gables which is one of my 'go-to' books in times of stress. I don't love all of L.M. Montgomery's stories but this one is especially wonderful. I wonder if all of us see our childhood in Anne...............

Ene 22, 2019, 6:55pm

>134 rainpebble: And I also love Anne of Avonlea, Belva. After Anne herself, Miss Lavender's my favorite character in the series.

I agree that not all of Montgomery's work is of Green-Gables quality, and even the Green-Gables series tends to weaken as it goes on. (I've yet to read Anne of Ingleside and Rainbow Valley, though, and I haven't yet read any of the other books, like the Emily series.) But Rilla of Ingleside is quite good, taking on a more serious note as it shows women on the home front in WW1.

There's an interesting prequel that came out last year, Marilla of Green Gables, that I plan to get to once I've finished the rest of the Green-Gables series (maybe also including The Blythes Are Quoted).

Ene 23, 2019, 5:44am

Have just started Fenny by Lettice Cooper.
A present from Alison in my Secret Santa parcel last Christmas.
Enjoying it so far , my friend Jeannine is reading along with me.

Ene 23, 2019, 2:00pm

Yay, so glad you're enjoying it Mary.

Editado: Ene 23, 2019, 3:06pm

>135 CurrerBell: The first two Emily books are really excellent. I think I probably first tried Emily of New Moon a bit too young and was a bit disappointed, but I reread as an adult and read the other two, about a girl/young woman who dreams of being a writer and actually starts to pursue literary career. I don't want to say too much about the third (with the same subject) for those who've not read the books.

On the Anne books, as well as the first two I enjoyed Anne of the Island, in which Anne goes off to college.

Ene 23, 2019, 3:24pm

>135 CurrerBell:;
Mike, I have added both Marilla of Green Gables and The Blythes Are Quoted to my wishlist for this year's Century of Reading. They both sound very interesting, especially the latter. Thank you for sharing your thoughts & ideas.
:-) I hope you are well.

>135 CurrerBell:; & >138 elkiedee:;
I began the 2nd of the Anne series, Anne of Avonlea, earlier this month & couldn't get into it but will try at a later date. Perhaps leave a bit more room between the 1st & 2nd of the series.

The Emily books are all 3 on my TBR list for this year.

Luci, I love your intuit on the Emily books. I am really looking forward to them now.

Editado: Ene 24, 2019, 10:13am

I'm finding it very engrossing and hard to put down.
Thank you so much for sending it to me, Alison.

Ene 28, 2019, 12:10pm

I'm planning on completing Pilgrimage this year and have just started Pilgrimage 1, with Pointed Roofs. I'm liking it so far.

Editado: Ene 29, 2019, 4:09pm

I seem to be off to a good start in my 2019 Virago / Persephone reading. I've not done too well with them the past few years. Truth be told I have cleared my shelves of over 300 of the green lovlies. They now have a wonderful home with my therapist. And I have downloaded to my Kindle all that are available out in the public domain.
Besides the two listed above I have read the The Two Mrs. Abbotts and just completed The Life and Death of Harriett Frean. Currently I am reading Mrs. Tim of the Regiment which reads like a Persephone. No surprise there as the author is a Persephone author.

Ene 30, 2019, 2:44pm

Reading a Virago author though not a Virago book - What Not by Rose Macaulay, languishing in obscurity since 1918 but predating Huxley and Orwell - absolutely fascinating!

Ene 30, 2019, 4:23pm

Forgot to mention that I began the year with a Virago: Shadows On The Rock, Willa Cather's historical novel about the Quebec colony in the late 17th century. Not much plot but some very beautiful writing.

Ene 31, 2019, 7:26am

>143 kaggsy: I'm looking forward to that one!

>144 lyzard: Shadows on the rock is one of my favourite Cather's. In my mind it is a perfect winter book.

Ene 31, 2019, 5:55pm

>145 Sakerfalcon:

I gather it isn't representative of Cather (of whom, I have not read enough), but I very much enjoyed it.

Ene 31, 2019, 5:56pm

For anyone interested, the thread is now up for the group read of Maria Edgeworth's Belinda:


All welcome!

Feb 2, 2019, 8:39am

Have just started The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty which is this month's circle book from the group readitswapit.
Excited when I opened my parcel to find an original green virago.

Feb 2, 2019, 2:08pm

>148 Cornishgirl: Is that a group connected with the original Readitswap? I was quite sad when the website folded as I had so many good swaps through them - some of them with you, I think!

Feb 2, 2019, 7:15pm

Soupdragon yes we have kept the forum going.
I was sad that the swapping side ended having many swaps like you.

Feb 4, 2019, 3:30pm

>150 Cornishgirl: I'm glad the forum's still going, though I didn't post there much myself. Will have to take a look.

Feb 5, 2019, 9:59am

Do pop in and have a look around.
Readitswapit freeforums.net.
Although I was somewhat disappointed with The Robber Bridegroom having read The Optimist's Daughter which I loved.
This one was fantasy which I'm afraid I don't like.

Feb 17, 2019, 5:54pm

Reading The Lost Traveller right now; I read Frost in May in 2017 and meant to get back to the quartet earlier. I am reminded now why maybe I didn't get right back to it, because Nanda/Clara would get into situations that were so frustrating and if only she could have spoken her mind, to explain herself, it would've gone differently - and she seemed able to speak out at other times. Anyway, it's a pretty interesting read.

Also interesting to read on the side some information about Antonia White's life and that these books were all to a degree autobiographical.

Editado: Feb 19, 2019, 4:03am

Continuing on with 2019's reading of Virago/Persephone I completed the VMC All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West, which I love so very much. I appreciate the story & especially the writing of this author. Then 3 more Persephone: Miss Buncle Married, always a good read. The Blank Wall which I am sorry to say went unappreciated with this reader. I found it to be a bit of a snooze. I finished up with Flush. I love this little book. So funny and sad and told in such an interesting manner.
Currently I am reading a bit of Virago nonfiction; The Swan in the Evening: Fragments of an Inner Life, a memoir by Rosamond Lehmann. I am finding it interesting and informative regarding her life. Lehmann was quite possibly ahead of her time. She was a prolific writer of the VMC. She wrote: Invitation to the Waltz, The Weather in the Streets, Dusty Answer,
The Echoing Grove, The Ballad and the Source, A Note in Music, The Gipsy's Baby and Other Stories and A Sea-Grape Tree. I am sure that many of you have read some or all of these.

Feb 18, 2019, 8:53pm

>154 rainpebble: Speaking of Lehmann, Belva, I just a week or two ago stumbled across and picked up Rosamond Lehmann's Album from a used bookstore. It's got interesting photos and the like. I'm going to have to page through it when I get a chance.

Feb 19, 2019, 1:27am

I just finished Stevie Smith's Novel on Yellow Paper and gave it 3***. There were places where it really dragged, but there were also some quite good passages – especially the sections on Nazi Germany and on sex education. I know Smith wasn't a popular monthly read last year, but I think a problem with Novel on Yellow Paper might be that it shouldn't be read straight through, that you should really read it a section at a time, not much more than twenty pages at one sitting. I might have given it a better rating if I'd done that myself rather than reading it straight through as I did.

Editado: Feb 24, 2019, 10:08pm

My e-reader broke while reading The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns and it was a few weeks before I bit the bullet and ordered a new one. I finally finished it about a week ago, and I liked it. Now I'm reading The Diviners by Margaret Laurence.

I like the new e-reader, but the screen is smaller and now I can't read the PDF versions of books from OpenLibrary very well. I don't love the EPUBs - I'd rather read scans of physical books, and there are a lot of typos.

My dad and I agreed to pick out a couple books for each other to read this year. One of the books I recommended was The Feast by Margaret Kennedy - because I liked it so much and because I thought he would be interested in the religious / moral themes as a pastor. He just finished it and said he really enjoyed it, and was especially interested in how applicable some of the political commentary was to today's environment. I don't think he's read many novels written by women, so hopefully this inspires him to branch out a little more.

edit: Oh, and I read A Glass of Blessings! Not my favorite Barbara Pym, but I did love the character of Wilmet.

Mar 15, 2019, 12:10am

Finished Mr. Skeffington by Elizabeth von Arnim.

I've written a review WITH SPOILERS here:


I may be way off-base in my thoughts, so would appreciate feedback, especially if you've read the book.

Editado: Mar 16, 2019, 1:47pm

I'm reading Mary O'Grady by Mary Lavin for the online reading Ireland month event. Thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Mar 20, 2019, 5:34pm

I've just started A Stricken Field by Martha Gellhorn.

Mar 27, 2019, 4:24pm

Not a Virago book, but a Virago author- my review of the newly reissued Rose Macaulay book What Not is up at Shiny New Books:


Mar 28, 2019, 8:33am

>161 kaggsy: Now I'm even more excited about this book!

Mar 28, 2019, 8:43am

🤣 I imagine you’ll love it!

Mar 29, 2019, 12:48pm

This sounded so familiar that I checked my reviews. Remember when we were reading WWl back in 2014 and one of the topics was the aftermath? I found a copy of What Not on Project Gutenberg. Here is the link:


I'm off to buy a hard copy. So glad this author is being given the attention she is due.


Abr 2, 2019, 12:20pm

My first foray into Pamela Frankau.
The Wreath for the Enemy which I am enjoying immensely!

Abr 2, 2019, 1:29pm

I've just started Backwater, the second book in Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage 1. I am enjoying her stream of consciousness exercise - I can feel it along with her!

Abr 2, 2019, 5:31pm

I am almost finished Ormond by Maria Edgeworth. It's rather dull but I think that I'll slog through it. I don't know why.

It's odd that sometimes the dull books become a challenge for me to finish and others that I dislike for various reasons I quickly abandon. I had previously read Edgeworth's Belinda and Helen

both of which I enjoyed.

Abr 3, 2019, 6:08am

>165 Cornishgirl: The first Virago I think I read was The winged horse and ever since then Frankau has been one of my favourite authors. Wreath for the enemy is such a good book!

Abr 8, 2019, 6:34pm

Sakerfalcon I loved it so will be looking out for more of her books. It was just wonderful.

Just picked up The Blush by Elizabeth Taylor which came in my secret Santa parcel from Heaven-Ali.
Looking forward to this one as I just love her writing.

Mayo 26, 2019, 5:58pm

My goodness, it's been quiet here...!

Just dropping in to mention that as part of our ongoing (and more or less accidental) 'Important Female Authors Before Jane Austen' project, there will be a group read next month of Charlotte Turner Smith's first novel, Emmeline, The Orphan Of The Castle.

All welcome!

Jun 1, 2019, 9:09pm

The thread is now up for the group read of Charlotte Smith's, Emmeline; all welcome!


Jun 2, 2019, 1:05pm

I completed Pilgrimage 1 last week and have started on Pilgrimage 2, as part of my year-long challenge to read all 13 novels.

Jun 2, 2019, 2:54pm

I recently read The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy. It's quirky with a rather unusual plot but good for early summer


Jul 1, 2019, 11:40am

Whoa, good luck with that! If you're blogging about it, do feel free to post links in comments to my posts about them all on my blog

Ago 6, 2019, 4:08pm

Finished Pilgrimage 2 and about ready to start Pilgrimage 3.

Ago 20, 2019, 3:09am

Well done! How are you finding it?

Ago 20, 2019, 3:09am

I've very much enjoyed Mary Webb's Seven for a Secret which Ali loaned to me.

Ago 23, 2019, 5:28pm

>176 LyzzyBee: Thanks. It's not that easy to read - trying to follow along with Miriam's thoughts gets a bit chaotic at times - but it is worth it! I find lots of lines that make me chuckle and also some very beautiful passages. I do feel like I know how Miriam feels quite often. It is confusing to understand who's who at times, which also contributes to it being a rather slow read for me. I'm getting a good feel of what it was like to live in London at that time.

I have posted some passages that I enjoyed and some things that I've learned about the times on Litsy. I will check out your blog and see what you thought!

Oct 11, 2019, 8:06am

I'm currently reading The Shutter of Snow by Emily Holmes Coleman for the 1930club which starts next week.

Oct 19, 2019, 5:19pm

I've started Deadlock the first novel in Pilgrimage 3 - finding it pretty interesting; Miriam spending time with a Russian student changes it up a bit.

Oct 20, 2019, 3:15pm

>180 LisaMorr: I think volume 3 was my favourite of the 4 volumes.

Oct 26, 2019, 12:41pm

>179 Heaven-Ali:;
Ali, I was so fascinated by The Shutter of Snow when I first read it. Love it to this day but it can feel a bit heavy. I hope you were able to appreciate it.

Oct 26, 2019, 12:49pm

I am currently at midpoint in The "Rebecca" Notebook and Other Memories, Secret Santa gifted to me in 2013 by CurrerBell.

(Many thanks Mike. I still have the note from C B with remembrances from Branny. It is my current bookmark. Fitting, don't you think?)

Oct 30, 2019, 2:12am

>181 BeyondEdenRock: That's good to know. So far it is pretty interesting.

I've also picked up The Sugar House, the third book in Antonia White's Frost in May quarter - I'm alternating between Pilgrimage 3 and this one; looks like The Sugar House will be the faster read, but maybe by alternating it'll make Pilgrimage 3 go faster.

Nov 7, 2019, 4:08pm

I intend to reread Now in November by Josephine Johnson. I loved it the first time and hope on rereading it I will feel the same way. I had read another of her books a few years ago Jordanston Not a Virago and not up to Now in November but it was worth reading. Now in November was a Pulitzer Prize winner when it was published in 1934. I look forward to reading another of her books The Inland Island All three books are from public libraries.

I'm on a "Josephine" kick as I'm currently reading: Years Are So Long by Josephine Lawrence. It's depressing because it's about an elderly couple who had expected their adult children to care for them in their old age and they're discovering that the children don't want to do it. It was also published in 1934 and the library copy of the book that I'm reading was the original edition.

I don't know how I discovered Lawrence as I was unfamiliar with her or her works. I wonder if she were mentioned by someone in our Virago community.

Both are American authors.

Editado: Nov 7, 2019, 5:12pm

>185 kayclifton: I don't remember whether I've mentioned Josephine Lawrence in this group or not, but her Rosemary was one of my favorite books as a young girl, and I've re-read it multiple times as an adult too. It's delightful, and not depressing at all.

Nov 9, 2019, 3:25pm

> laytonwoman3rd: I googled Josephine Lawrence after I posted my message and discovered what you already knew: that all of her books were not just for adults.

The ending of the book was the saddest part of all. I am 81 years old and so I could identify with the main characters and their plight. It's a stark reality and very frightening.

Editado: Nov 17, 2019, 8:03am

I just started reading I'm not Complaining by Ruth Adam which lovely Liz gave me as part of a fantastic VSS parcel last Christmas. I've only read 85 pages so far, but I absolutely love it already. I now want to read all the books about school teachers in working class communities, if there are any.

Nov 18, 2019, 6:51am

>188 Heaven-Ali: I thoroughly enjoyed I'm not complaining when I read it a couple of years back. It's great, isn't it!

Nov 18, 2019, 9:13am

>188 Heaven-Ali:, >189 Sakerfalcon: Oh, I really enjoyed that one as well.


I'm enjoying Fenny, which was the closest I could find to a 1940s read although at the moment the story is set in 1933.

Nov 18, 2019, 7:43pm

I'm reading The Nutmeg Tree, my first Margery Sharp of the year after reading 5 of hers last year. I can see why it's one of her most popular, but so far it's not as compelling as The Eye of Love trilogy. I still really like it.

Might give Ivy Compton-Burnett a try next, with The Present and the Past.

Nov 23, 2019, 3:00pm

>191 surtsey: surtsey> I absolutely loved The Eye of Love. Sharp's quirky characters are memorable. I have also read a few others books by Margery Sharp. I would also highly recommend one of her other books. The Innocents.. It is very moving.

Nov 25, 2019, 11:41am

I reviewed I'm not Complaining by Ruth Adam.


It's going to be one of my favourite vmcs now.

Ene 14, 2020, 2:13pm

I'm now reading The Village School by Miss Read and really enjoying it. It was preceded by another of her books Thrush Green. Her books have a whimsical quality which I very much like.

Ene 18, 2020, 4:30am

Aw, I love Miss Read and I have all of her novels plus the newly republished Dean Street Press one.

Ene 18, 2020, 1:40pm

>194 kayclifton: I enjoy Miss Read. I think The Village School is the beginning of a different series (Fairacre) than Thrush Green.

Ene 18, 2020, 1:52pm

>194 kayclifton: I didn't realize Miss Read was published by Virago! I am slowly making my way through the Fairacre books (>196 laytonwoman3rd: yes, Village School is the first of these), and then will go back and read the Thrush Green series. I had a windfall a couple of years ago at a used book sale, where someone had donated a large number of Miss Read books. Although it was from various years and publishers, I was still able to fill in quite a few gaps, for a $1 a book.

Ene 18, 2020, 1:53pm

>195 LyzzyBee: What's the new one?

Ene 19, 2020, 3:09pm

I was a teacher of young children before my retirement and so Village School resonates with me. Some of the situations described in the book are so similar to some of the situations that I experienced with the children and the protagonist's insight and understanding is remarkable.

Ene 19, 2020, 4:57pm

I finished The Sugar House and Beyond the Glass in December - Antonia White had a difficult life.

I also finished Pilgrimage 3 in December and have finished the first novel in Pilgrimage 4. And I've just pulled out Martha Gellhorn's A Stricken Field.

Plan to get a few more VMCs read in 2020 (now that I'm almost finished with Pilgrimage).

Ene 20, 2020, 9:11am

It's Fresh from the Country, a standalone novel, reissued but I'd never come across it before https://deanstreetpress.co.uk/pages/book_page/333 I have a review e-copy but I'll be buying a print one!

Editado: Ene 20, 2020, 11:52am

>201 LyzzyBee: Thanks! That's one of the few titles I don't have, so I may purchase it as well.

Ene 23, 2020, 11:45am

And I've been BOUGHT a print copy by my best friend! Hooray!

Ene 27, 2020, 5:53pm

I'm now reading something light: Jutland Cottage by Angela Thirkell.

Feb 13, 2020, 8:32am

I'm reading Open the door! by Catherine Carswell. It's very good.

Feb 14, 2020, 2:02pm

Castle Rackrent and The Absentee both by Maria Edgeworth have moved to the top of my TBR list. Has anyone read either or both of them?

> 205 Sakerfalcon: I read Open the Door a number of years ago but can't recall the plot or characters.

Editado: Feb 14, 2020, 10:57pm

I think Liz (lyzard) reviewed both Edgeworth books within the last few years. And she led a group read of Castle Rackrent back in 2015: https://www.librarything.com/topic/190749
I enjoyed it; I have The Absentee waiting for me, hopefully this month.

Feb 16, 2020, 1:28pm

>206 kayclifton: I liked The Absentee when I read it. Wasn't as big a fan of Castle Rackrent - from memory I found the satire in the latter made it difficult to get into.

Feb 16, 2020, 5:09pm

Castle Rackrent is a short-ish satire while The Absentee is a proper novel, so while they are both dealing with conditions in Ireland around the Act of Union, they are very different in approach and agenda.

Feb 21, 2020, 3:39pm

I'm skipping Castle Rackrent but have read a few pages of The Absentee and found it intriguing. Maria Edgeworth was an interesting person. It's fascinating to discover women of those eras who are

so far ahead of their times and to have written books that are still being read. It's quite an accomplishment.

Feb 24, 2020, 5:13am

>206 kayclifton: I finished Open the door and enjoyed it quite a bit. We follow Joanna from childhood into womanhood through her relationships and family as she discovers who she is and what she wants from life. It is also a great portrayal of early C20th Glasgow and of her family, dominated by the parents' evangelical Christianity which they failed to pass on to any of their four children. A good read.

For a complete change of tone I then read Before lunch by Angela Thirkell, not one of the most memorable Barsetshire chronicles but a very enjoyable read none the less.

Feb 24, 2020, 8:17am

I read Ormond by Maria Edgeworth last year. I liked it about 3 stars worth.

Mar 14, 2020, 7:23pm

My goodness, it's quiet here...

Perhaps I can liven things up a bit by letting people know that there will be a group read of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret next month? All welcome! :)

Mar 20, 2020, 7:50pm

>213 lyzard: I enjoyed reading that one back in 2010 (oh my, 10 years ago!). I'll follow along with the group read.

I just finished Pilgrimage! Read the last few pages of Pilgrimage 4 on Saturday morning. Woo-hoo! I haven't decided yet what VMC to read next.

Mar 20, 2020, 10:30pm

>214 LisaMorr: I read Lady Audley's Secret in 2010, too! Congratulations on finishing Pilgrimage, that's not an easy read and quite an accomplishment.

Mar 21, 2020, 3:13pm

>215 lauralkeet: Thanks! I do feel a sense of accomplishment with that done!

Mar 23, 2020, 3:51am

I'm reading The Little Ottleys along with HeavenAli as something to talk about and keep us connected. We've both read Love's Shadow, in fact both my copy close to each other in time, however it was the first full book I read after an operation in 2017 and I remember NOTHING about it, so I've had to re-read that one while she starts the next volume!

Mar 23, 2020, 10:04am

Mar 24, 2020, 7:11am

>217 LyzzyBee: I loved that too!

>214 LisaMorr: Congratulations! Reading Pilgrimage is a real pilgrimage in itself! But the journey is a satisfying one, I thought.

Mar 25, 2020, 4:03pm

I'm reading The Little Ottleys by Ada Leverson with Liz. I read bk 1 ages ago so went straight to bk 2 and now on bk3.

Mar 26, 2020, 4:40am

Just started book 2 so I'm lagging. Are you reviewing them as a block or individually?

Mar 26, 2020, 7:18pm

Just started No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym.
Needed something light and comic in these difficult days!

Mar 28, 2020, 1:16pm

I will be reading The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurer. I think that one qualifies.

Mar 28, 2020, 1:28pm

>219 Sakerfalcon: I agree; I was glad I spent all that time in Miriam's head.

Mar 28, 2020, 5:47pm

>223 Kristelh: Oh...that was a good one.

Mar 29, 2020, 11:35am

Yeah - House on the Strand was great when I read it in the 60s!

Mar 30, 2020, 5:21pm

Just to say that I am still intending to go ahead with the group read of Lady Audley's Secret: I hope that those who indicated their intention to participate still have the desire (and the book access!) to do so.

Abr 2, 2020, 6:51pm

The thread is now up for the group read of Lady Audley's Secret.

Please note that unfortunately there are again variant editions of this book. I have added information about which editions should be accessed if possible, though I appreciate that in the current circumstances, people may not have a choice.

Hope to see you there!

Lady Audley's Secret

Abr 12, 2020, 4:35am

Kate O'Brien's Without my cloak, a Christmas gift from my Virago Secret Santa Jane. About hundred pages in and really enjoying it so far.

Abr 13, 2020, 10:18am

>230 alvaret: I've loved all the Kate O'Brien's that I've read so far. Without my cloak is still on my TBR pile. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

I'm about to start Loving without tears by Molly Keane.

Abr 13, 2020, 10:49am

I finished Lady Audley's Secret by Mary E. Braddon for Liz's group read in >228 lyzard:. Quite the 19th century page-turner.

Abr 27, 2020, 10:15am

I finished Lantana Lane over the weekend and found it to be lovely! Highly recommended for a VMC to make you happy right now.

Editado: Mayo 1, 2020, 8:06am

I recently read Christopher and Columbus by Elizabeth von Arnim and As Once in May by Antonia White its her autobiography of early childhood.
Now reading The Birds and other stories by Daphne du Maurier, getting started early for my Daphne du Maurier reading week 11th - 17th May.

Mayo 1, 2020, 8:07am

Good to know Lisa as I have that tbr.

Mayo 1, 2020, 8:59pm

Finished The House on the Strand a couple days ago and now reading The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton.

Mayo 2, 2020, 5:00am

>236 Kristelh: What did you think of The House on the Strand? I've got an old copy somewhere which I'm planning to read this month - if I can find it!

Editado: Mayo 12, 2020, 7:32am

>237 Soupdragon:. I rated it a solid 3, I think it was a bit slow to engage but the second part was more action. It is a sixties novel, written by a mature author (in her sixties). Enjoy!

Mayo 12, 2020, 6:36am

I read Rebecca, apparently the only person never to have read it, for Ali's DDM Week. Review here - I could not put it down! https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/book-review-daphne-du-maurier-reb... I'm also now reading Jamaica Inn, also in the VMC edition

Editado: Mayo 14, 2020, 5:16pm

I am now reading my fourth Daphne du Maurier book. I started at the beginning of the month. After The Birds and other stories , I read The Flight of the Falcon and then read The Parasites I still have The Parasites to review. I am now reading The Scapegoat which I am absolutely gripped by.

My review of The Birds and other stories is here


My review of The Flight of the Falcon is here


Mayo 15, 2020, 9:07am

Ali - I started back in the 60s with The House on the Strand and then worked my way through her collection. For some reason I didn't get to Rebecca until the 70s, but then in the 80s I lucked into The Scapegoat at a book sale and was also 'absolutely gripped by it'.

Mayo 16, 2020, 8:29pm

I did finish Glimpses of the Moon this month. I've read quite a bit of Edith Wharton.

Mayo 17, 2020, 1:15am

I've read Jamaica Inn also in the fancy new Virago edition, for Ali's DDM week https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/book-review-daphne-du-maurier-jam...

Editado: Mayo 20, 2020, 7:17pm

I have just finished The Skin Chairs by Barbara Comyns. I so enjoy her writing,and liked this one a lot.

Editado: Jun 10, 2020, 1:02pm

I am now reading Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondeley. Absolutely loving it.

Jun 15, 2020, 7:39pm

Seeking a complete escape from real life, (without venturing into science fiction) I am reading Mrs Miniver The world was certainly different then.

Editado: Jun 20, 2020, 6:09pm

Now reading Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall. My first book by her, and it's excellent.

Jun 28, 2020, 12:56pm

I finished The Pastor's Wife by Elizabeth von Arnim. One of those books that after finishing I want to go back and read again. I just love von Arnim's writing.

Earlier this month I read Elizabeth Taylor's A View of the Harbour. This was a little more difficult to get into, but it grew on me as the book progressed. Another of Taylor's books that seems to have a barely perceptible, but edgy tension under the surface.

Jun 29, 2020, 7:13am

>248 kac522: I love The pastor's wife! One of my favourite Von Arnims.

I've been reading the Kate Fansler mysteries by Amanda Cross. Written in the 60s and 70s they are dated in some aspects, but great fun for their setting in academic with all its petty politics and feuds. Kate is a professor of English, her boyfriend (later husband) Reed an assistant DA, and together they solve some entertaining mysteries. These are short, light reads that I'm enjoying quite a bit. Virago published them in their Crime series in the 1990s.

Jun 29, 2020, 8:38am

>248 kac522:, >249 Sakerfalcon: two of my favorite VMCs! von Arnim always makes me smile, and Taylor's books are surprisingly layered and complex.

Jun 30, 2020, 2:09am

I've read one or two of those and really enjoyed them - I should collect the set really!

Jun 30, 2020, 9:16am

I read a few Amanda Cross books back in the day as well. They were huge at the time and very popular as feminist murder mysteries. Never read The Pastor's Wife though. One of hers I missed!

Jul 1, 2020, 7:37pm

I have just begun reading the Birds Fall Down by Rebecca West and am not sure if it's a Virago. It was slow going at first and I almost gave up but it has become more engrossing so will continue.

Editado: Jul 2, 2020, 5:06pm

Now reading Two serious Ladies by Jane Bowles. I suggested it to my book group, and they picked it. I am nervous about what they will think, my suggestions aren't always popular, but I am really enjoying it.

Jul 4, 2020, 5:45am

I may have to read that soon, Ali.... Currently thinking ahead to August and I have Drawn from Life by Stella Bowen hanging about in the wings.

Jul 4, 2020, 12:22pm

I am reading Rebecca West this month, The Return of the Soldier.

Jul 4, 2020, 4:59pm

>256 Kristelh: That was a very good one.

Jul 8, 2020, 5:37pm

Finished The Return of the Soldier, so good!!!!!

Jul 8, 2020, 11:27pm

I'm not reading it yet, but I've pulled The King of a Rainy Country for my first VMC of the year. I'll look forward to it in the next month or so. (I don't quite know what's wrong with me, but other things keep jumping ahead of my lovely greens.)

Jul 10, 2020, 3:33am

Oddly, I’m planning to read that one in October, Peggy, as part of a club I cohost with Simon which will be focusing on 1956! I also have Drawn from Life by Stella Bowen lined up for August if we do AV/AA!

Jul 10, 2020, 11:32pm

Hmmm. If I haven't read it before, I'll make a note to read it in October, Karen. I always like to see what somebody else is thinking when a book is in progress.

Jul 20, 2020, 7:21am

Still enjoying the Kate Falser mysteries, I'm onto A question of Max now, which looks at the legacy of a (fictional) woman writer who sounds as though she'd have been published by Virago!

Editado: Jul 21, 2020, 6:18am

I am currently reading Deborah by Esther Kreitman. Really enjoying it.

Jul 24, 2020, 9:47am

I've started The Orlando trilogy by Isabel Coleman, inspired by reading an article relating to the new reprint. It's very good so far, a penetrating look at the English class system and politics in the 1930s.

Jul 27, 2020, 3:43pm

>264 Sakerfalcon: Oh, is it good? The Orlando Trilogy arrived in the post a couple of weeks ago but I haven't managed to start it, yet.

Jul 28, 2020, 5:34am

>264 Sakerfalcon: It's very good so far. It jumps around in time a bit, with scenes from past and future interwoven, but as you read on you figure out who the characters are and what time they belong to. I'm halfway through the middle book and really enjoying it.

Sep 2, 2020, 4:51am

Just finished The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West, which I have in a hardback Virago omnibus collection. Loved it!

Sep 2, 2020, 10:22am

>267 JayneCM: I recently read The Return of the Soldier and also loved it.
I just purchased a couple books by Sylvia Townsend Warner that I hope to read one of those books in October. Summer Will Show

Sep 2, 2020, 4:26pm

>267 JayneCM: it’s a stunning book isn’t it?

Sep 4, 2020, 3:40pm

I read Pointed Roofs which is the first of thirteen parts in Dorothy M Richardson's Pilgrimage series.

It's mostly descriptive passages but the writing is beautiful in a "continuous state of being" style (aka stream of consciousness). Richardson seems to have thought of it as a sort of women's language, a feminised version of the normative realist literary expression fashionable at the time of writing.

Clothes often appear as explorations of women's expected roles in society, and I was especially struck by the instruction from Miriam's dressmaker not to take deep breaths so she could wear a tighter-fitting bodice, then the contrast between fainting from corset tight-lacing and the freedom of playing tennis in stays. All this is presented as experienced rather than observed and interpreted, which is effective at a deeper level than intellectual arguments for feminism (different approaches, of course, being complementary). It's also fascinating history of women's clothing and I included a long quote about the new style of garment known as a "blouse", lol, in my review at the Pointed Roofs page.

I'm not intending to read the whole work but I can recommend dipping in for an episode, especially with availability on project gutenberg.

Sep 7, 2020, 5:53am

>270 spiralsheep: I read the whole of Pilgrimage over about 4 years, and really enjoyed it. I agree that it is possible to dip in and out and get a good sense of the work and what Richardson was trying to achieve.

I'm still in Barchester, having just visited Northbridge Rectory and Marling Hall. For all their faults I do enjoy Thirkell's books.

Sep 7, 2020, 11:40am

>271 Sakerfalcon: I'm in Barchester, too - re-read Northbridge Rectory and am in the middle of Marling Hall (all those characters! Sheesh!). Are we doing an inadvertent readalong?

Sep 8, 2020, 7:11am

Seems like it! Although I am now taking a break and visiting Riseholm with Queen Lucia. So I should really be posting this on the What else? thread!

Sep 9, 2020, 11:36am

I'm about to start Mollie Panter-Downes' One Fine Day. The book is centered in the town of Wealding, and wondered if anyone knows if this is based on a real town or towns.

Editado: Sep 9, 2020, 11:45am

>274 kac522: I've never read One Fine Day so can't venture a specific opinion but the Weald is an area in south-eastern England, which has many small towns and large villages. It would have been possible to commute to London from the Weald.

ETA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weald

Editado: Sep 9, 2020, 5:57pm

>275 spiralsheep: Thanks, I did read about the Weald, but I couldn't find any information as to whether Panter-Downes had based "Wealding" on a specific village. I know she lived near Chiddingfold for many years, but wasn't sure if that was the model for Wealding.

Editado: Sep 23, 2020, 12:59pm

I loved One Fine Day, or so I see from my rating. At the moment I can't remember a thing about it. Oh dear.
Meanwhile, I am reading a bit of Hudson River Bracketed at the time. E. Wharton can really write!

Sep 14, 2020, 1:48am

I loved One Fine Day too - quite brilliant, as is Hudson River Bracketed, one of the few Whartons I’ve actually read! 🤣

Sep 16, 2020, 11:42am

I am on Growing up now, keeping on through WW2 with Thirkell and trying to read them reasonably close together so I don't forget who everyone is!

Sep 25, 2020, 7:14am

I'm now reading The Camomile which I left out of AVAA because it was written at the same time as two other books in my pile. It's OK but nothing special, I'm finding her creative maunderings a bit tedious, to be honest. Does it improve?

Sep 30, 2020, 4:34am

I've just reviewed The Camomile - I wasn't that keen. Anyone have a different view? What did I miss? https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/book-review-catherine-carswell-th... I felt like it was a sub-Dorothy Richardson Pilgrimage and couldn't whip up any sympathy for the main character, but she also wasn't an enjoyable monster or other kind of "good" unsympathetic character.

Oct 3, 2020, 7:42am

I hope to read Summer will Show this month.

Oct 7, 2020, 1:26am

I've just (re) read Mrs Palfrey for, I think, the third time and still cried at the end. Just a perfect novel.

Editado: Oct 31, 2020, 3:27pm

The American Authors Challenge in the 75 Book Challenge Group is featuring the work of Ann Petry this month. Petry's major novels, The Street and The Narrows have recently been re-issued in Virago editions. Come on over and join the discussion

Nov 6, 2020, 5:37am

i finished my re-read of Surfacing by Margaret Atwood the other day, I had remembered nothing about it. A very interesting novel indeed.

Nov 29, 2020, 3:23am

Recently finished Rebecca, which I really enjoyed. I will have to look for more Daphne Du Maurier in the future.

Dic 1, 2020, 5:57pm

I finished Ann Petry's The Street, and posted my review on the Virago edition work page. I gave it 4 stars.

Ene 7, 7:24am

I'm reading Deborah by Esther Kreitman. Having read her brother Isaac Bashevis Singer's novel The family Moskat last year I was curious to see the world of Polish jewry through a woman's eyes.

Ene 8, 11:56am

>288 Sakerfalcon: Thank you for mentioning this one, Claire. I didn't know about Esther Kreitman. I read The Family Moskat a long time ago (pre-LT, even!) and have been wanting to revisit it. Maybe I'll look out for Deborah instead.

Ene 11, 5:46am

>289 laytonwoman3rd: I definitely recommend it! The family Moskat was one of the the best books I read last year, but my main criticism was a lack of depth in the female characters. Deborah redresses that balance.

Ene 22, 12:29pm

Halfway through The Street by Ann Petry. Pretty amazing.

Editado: Ene 24, 12:58am

Hi everyone - Just finished reading Nobody will tell you this but Me: a true (as told to me) story by Bess Kalb. Loved it.