Virago Round Up: Day Two!

Well, haven’t you all been busy reading! It has been mine, and Carolyn’s, absolute pleasure to see such a wonderfully enthusiastic take up of Virago Reading Week. Here we are, only on day two, and the amount of books being devoured is going through the roof!

The first review of the day is from the lovely Claire at The Captive Reader, who wrote an insightful and engaging review of the always delightful, and never predictable Elizabeth Von Arnim’s The Pastor’s Wife. Claire had mixed feelings about this tragi-comedy, whose female heroine frustrates as much as she delights!

Next up was Old English Rose’s review of Barbara Comyns’ The Vet’s Daughter. I was delighted to discover this blog through Virago Reading Week, as we share a lot of our tastes in common, and her sensitive review of what sounds like a rather haunting and unique novel has made me desperate to finally pick up a Comyns. Definitely an author to look out for!

Karen of Books and Chocolate posted her enviable list of possible choices for the week; I am secretly glad that she has settled on The Professor’s House by the brilliant and shamefully underread Willa Cather, and I am looking forward to her thoughts.

Helen of She Reads Novels read one of my favourite Viragos, and one of the first I ever read, actually; Rebecca West’s sublime The Return of the Soldier. As Helen says, it’s an interesting and very different exploration of the effects of war on the lives of soldiers and their families, and we both agree that it is an excellent and thought provoking novel. A good place to start with Rebecca West, as well, if you ask me.

Rachel of Flowers and Stripes shared, as usual, some fantastic and beautiful quotes from favourite Viragos she has read in the past, and posed the question of what Virago has stayed with us as we have grown through different stages of womanhood? An intriguing question indeed!

Another new blogger to me, and one I am very excited to make the acquaintance of, is Lisa of ANZ Lit Lovers, who posts about Australian and New Zealand fiction. She has broken her usual mould in writing a wonderful review of Jan Struther’s Mrs Miniver, discussing the difficulties of reading an upper class woman’s ‘struggles’ in wartime.

A Bookish Space and I are reading twins this week, as we are both exploring the pioneer novels of Willa Cather; My Antonia, and O, Pioneers! We are both finding the depiction of the pioneer life fascinating, and I look forward to reading more of her thoughts as the week goes on!

Dear, lovely Thomas of My Porch has decided to treat us all to a giveaway! He’s asking us to guess what are the Virago covers in the wonderful button he designed; answers to his email address, and fingers crossed for all of you who enter!

JoAnn of Lakeside Musing has posted a wonderful passage from Elizabeth Von Arnim’s The Enchanted April, one of my favourite books of all time. What a marvellous thought; sunshine and wisteria, as I freeze here in snowy New York!

The good folks over at the Virago Group on Librarything have also been busy reading; take a look at this thread to see what these Virago veterans have chosen to read this week! Especially of interest is Lizzie’s review of the not often read Testament of Friendship, Vera Brittain’s passionate and moving account of her friendship with fellow Virago author Winifred Holtby.

Audrey of Books as Food has written an enchanting review of my favourite read of 2010, Molly Panter Downes’ exquisite depiction of the day in the life of a family living in the reality of post war Britain, One Fine Day.

Verity, whose ambitious Verity’s Virago Venture blog dedicated to reading the entire list of Virago Modern Classics should provide an invaluable resource for all of us interested in this publishing house, has written a lovely post describing how she came to discover, and fall in love with Viragos.

Another Willa Cather fan, Margot at Joyfully Retired, has written about a Cather I have yet to read, but am now desperate to get hold of; The Song of the Lark. It’s become Margot’s favourite Cather, which is recommendation enough for me!

And there are still more wonderful reviews to come!!

Lyn of I Prefer Reading, who has excellent taste, has reviewed No Signposts in the Sea, by Vita Sackville West. I hadn’t heard much about this lesser known novel of Sackville West’s before, and Lyn has written so sensitively about it that I am now intrigued to read it- who could resist the temptation of a novel described in these words – ‘an absorbing study of emotions sharpened by the knowledge that life is finite’?

I am so glad Rochester Reader is back blogging again, and she has written about her experience of reading her very first Barbara Pym, Excellent Women. Her review is very thought provoking, about the status of unmarried women and how they were often taken advantage of by others…it’s made me very keen to read it!

The intelligent and insightful Helen of A Book in the Woods has written about a book, and an author, I had never come across before; Ada Cambridge’s The Three Miss Kings. It tells the story of three orphaned Australian girls making their own way in the world, and I look forward to reading more about it as the week progresses!

The always fascinating Jane at Fleur Fisher has read Molly Keane’s Time After Time, and written a spectacular review of a novel that explores the life of four siblings dominated by a matriarchal mother in a post war Irish country house. It’s certainly made me desperate to read it, and I wish I had my collection of Molly Keanes with me here in New York!

Last but not least, the lovely Danielle at A Work in Progress has also posted about the brilliant Molly Keane. Danielle has decided to read through her entire ouevre, but her post today focuses on Taking Chances, a book I hadn’t read much about before. Danielle’s teaser of a country house world turned upside down by a new arrival has certainly whet my appetite and I look forward to hearing more!

Edited for some latecomers –

Bookgirl has written an interesting post about a not oft mentioned Virago, E Arnot Robertson’s Cullum. She has only just started, but she’s already loving it, and I am looking to forward to hearing how she gets on!

Melanie of a blog totally new to me, The Indextrious Reader, has written a review of an intriguing and infuriating Elizabeth Taylor, Angel. Melanie wasn’t overly enamoured with it, but I can understand that – Angel has to be one of the most odious characters in literature!

It’s been quite a day, and many and varied a Virago has been explored by many and varied a blogger! Who knows what tomorrow will bring?! Look out for the daily round up tomorrow over at Carolyn’s, and also look out for opportunities to win prizes as the week progresses!

ps. if I missed your review, please let me know!

29 comments

  1. Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I’m enjoying the chance to read so many reviews of Viragos & discovering some new blogs at the same time.

    1. You are welcome Lyn – thank you for taking part and I am glad you’re finding it such a fun experience. I only wish I was at liberty to make a dent in my own ridiculous Virago TBR pile, but alas, they are in my mum’s attic!

  2. Wow, so many great reviews! I’ll have to get busy and write one myself — today I took a bit of time off to spend some time with my husband and to read some more. (Also my internet’s not working too well at the moment, hopefully that’ll all be sorted tomorrow.)

  3. oh to have been able to take the week off work to read novels, read blog reviews and then try and find the books I’d like to read next… So far top of my list is The Pastor’s Wife.

    1. I know, I know! A week on the sofa with books and tea and cake would be my idea of bliss, but sadly my boss would not agree! The Pastor’s Wife sounds truly excellent, doesn’t it? I need to read more Von Arnim.

  4. Wow! Such a lot of reviews! I admire the way you summed them all up beautifully in one post. Thank you for mentioning mine and for your kind comments🙂 I am enjoying this week and think that you and Carolyn are doing a splendid job. Thanks also to Thomas for the button and his exciting give-away.

    1. I know – thank you! I wanted to make sure I did everyone’s marvellous reviews justice. You are welcome and thank you for your compliments – it’s been such a pleasure to see how much everyone is enjoying this, and I am picking up some fantastic recommendations, which is always a bonus!

  5. Lovely to see the week so popular!

    I’m hoping to contribute something tomorrow, if I can manage to get online at a coffee shop; I was also hoping to write about The Song of the Lark too but don’t think I’ll finish it in time.

    1. Thanks, Claire! I am just amazed at how popular it has been and am so pleased by the enthusiasm everyone has shown.🙂

      I hope you manage to contribute something – it’s so annoying when you have no internet access! I also hope you’re enjoying the Cather – I am so loving reading her books this week!

  6. Whoops, I just posted on your other Virago Reading Week page last night. Sorry about that. If I do any more updating, I’ll try to make sure I’m on the right page!

  7. What a wonderful post filled with links to so many fascinating reviews! Thank you! I hope to follow them all up, but in the meantime, I’ve started reading ‘Our spoons came from Woolworths’ by Barbara Comyn, inspired by Old English Rose’s review of the Vet’s Daughter. OER is a blog that’s new to me, and I’m so glad you led me to it! As soon as I saw you saying that you shared a lot of of tastes in common with her, I knew she’d be my ‘cup of tea’, too!
    I’ll TRY to blog on ‘Spoons’… Hope I’ll get the chance…

    1. Thanks Penny! It’s great to find all these new book recommendations, isn’t it? Everyone has made their books sound so irresistible! Glad you found OER – apparently we must know each other as we studied at Royal Holloway on the same course in the same year so ! very exciting!

      No pressure Penny – I know you’re busy, but that even if you don’t manage to post, you’re with us in spirit!

  8. Thanks so much for organizing all these links–I’m looking forward to discovering even more Viragos to read! It’s really nice to see so many people reading and writing about Viragos–I wish they would reissue more of their older titles as hearing about them is so tempting!

    1. You are so welcome, Danielle! It was quite the undertaking but well worth it as there are so many people taking part who I’m meeting for the first time. I know, I know…I WISH their print on demand service was available for all out of print Viragos…most of my favourites are now out of print and I feel bad telling everyone how good they are when they’re so hard to get hold of!

  9. This round-up is great! The only drawback is that reading all these reviews is encouraging me to add to my Virago pile rather than reduce it🙂

  10. I haven’t had a minute to myself this week, but I am halfway through Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing which has got to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. I would not have picked it up had it not been for this week, and I’ll certainly post it about it as soon as possible.

    Love the new look, too!

  11. What a wonderful lot of reviews! I’m sorry I’m late to the party – really struggling to read fiction at the moment – but I’ve got a Comyns review appearing in 45 mins or so…

    1. I know! I just can’t believe it! Don’t be silly – not late at all. You ARE doing a PhD Simon, I expect you to be busy sometimes!😉 I loved your Comyns review!

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