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!