Virago Reading Week: Round Up #3

Now I’m starting to have trouble keeping up with all the reading going on! Day three has come and gone and I haven’t actually done any reading because of headaches and sore eyes. So I’ll try to get these links out quickly and get to bed.

Flowers and Stripes has started our day out beautifully again, with ‘frippery’ quotes from Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield and One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes, including this lovely bit: “he had kept a sharp eye open for women wearing pretty hats. Extraordinary things they were, he thought, like tilted saucers filled with flowers…”

Then Thomas of My Porch laments all the Viragos he won’t be reading this week, since he’s on a very strict TBR book diet. He does have a very nice little collection of them though!

The beautifully named Old English Rose reviews Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (yes, Virago Modern Classics issued their own version of Austen’s novels and she even includes their classic green cover!) and notes that she’s read it when she was at the ages of Margaret, Marianne, and Elinor and is now almost on her way to Regency spinsterhood with this reading! She also makes more sense of Marianne’s marriage than I managed in my last reading of it.

And the delightful Darlene at roses over a cottage door writes amusingly about pudding & pajamas in The Way Things Are by E.M. Delafield.

Verity of Verity’s Virago Venture continues to review obscure Viragos, with Susan Spray by Sheila Kaye-Smith, saying that it’s a novel “strongly influenced by her love of the countryside, in particular her native Sussex” and is also about religion, with “a final astonishing twist that I really wasn’t expecting.”

Laura at Laura’s Musings has two posts up today, first writing about how she began collecting (and eventually reading — I was the same way!) Viragos, with the help of the fantastic Virago Modern Classics group on LibraryThing (where they are happily reading along with us this week). She has also reviewed Anderby Wold, Winifred Holtby’s first novel. South Riding, Holtby’s most famous book, is being made into a BBC miniseries to come out later this year (in the UK, grumble) and many Virago-ers are already reading it! It’s often compared to Middlemarch by George Eliot, which makes me wish I had a copy of my own.

I was also thrilled to see that Rohan at Novel Readings has joined us for the week — she’s a university English professor specializing in Victorian literature and I’ve been happily (and quietly) reading her blog for some time now, until I saw she was planning to read some Viragos in her time off (here is an earlier review of Margaret Kennedy’s The Constant Nymph) and asked if she’d like to join us. She’s now reading Kennedy’s first novel, The Ladies of Lyndon.

Carol at Book Group of One (who is also a soon to be published author, I’ll leave you to see what of!) has reviewed Elizabeth Taylor’s Palladian and with an opening sentence like this: “Cassandra, with all her novel-reading, could be sure of experiencing the proper emotions, standing in her bedroom for the last time…” you can be sure I’m intrigued! Carol has also added, “Another novel about a life ruined by books? After all, you don’t idly name your bookish heroine Cassandra Dashwood.” This sounds like a good Taylor to go to after Angel!

Jane at Fleur Fisher has asked a great question: who’s your favourite Virago heroine? Hers is Sarah Burton of South Riding and she has good reasons why. (I sort of cheated and went with Lucy Snowe from Villette by Charlotte Bronte, simply because the book has stayed in my mind so much since reading it last year, but I really haven’t read enough VMCs yet to give a very informed answer. I’ll have to come back to that question later!)

Simon of Stuck in a Book has finally joined us with a review of The Skin Chairs by Barbara Comyns, who is one of his favourite authors for her “surreal but matter-of-fact” tone. He also has a very enviable picture of his Persephone and Virago collections.

And Margot at Joyfully Retired has given us the meaning of some ‘wondrous words’ from The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather.

Mother Etc. has more Viragos from the library, including Miss Mole by E.H. Young, which I did mean to read at one point after reading this review of it at Random Jottings. She’s also got The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter, which luckily I just received from amazon, so no book envy there.

Danielle at A Work in Progress has written beautifully about Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Solitary Summer and the need for silence and solitude, with a lovely quote about time alone in a garden.

And finally, at Dolce Bellezza, she’s quoted from Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, saying that “nobody writes of the pain that can be found in childhood” like Atwood.

Wait — there’s one last review by the lovely Claire at kiss a cloud, about The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley. She says, “Her language hops and skips to a melody, a summery tune, no matter how bleak and sad her themes get. She’s too familiar to me to be anything but beloved.” What a perfect way to end this Wednesday.

Tomorrow Rachel will have the round up again and I will try to get on with my reading. (If I don’t comment as much as I’d like, know that I’m still silently cheering you all on! I just seem to need to rest my eyes right now.) Don’t forget to include some pictures of your Virago collections for the second giveaway of the week!

14 thoughts on “Virago Reading Week: Round Up #3

  1. Cristina says:

    What a wonderful roundup with so many interesting posts and photos! I do hope you’ll feel better soon and are able to join us. I know how tedious headaches and eye strain can be. Try to take it easy.

  2. Laura says:

    Carolyn, I wanted to be sure you knew that the BBC production of South Riding will air in the US as well. It’s part of PBS’ Masterpiece Classic series and will air May 1, 8 & 15, 2011 (all Sundays, at 9pm) !!!

    • Carolyn says:

      Oh hooray! I’m enjoying Downton Abbey on PBS right now and am thrilled that they’re starting to show more early 20th century dramas, it can only mean more books republished from that period!

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