Virago Round Up: Day Four!

It’s the fourth day of Virago Reading Week! My goodness, is it just flying by! More posts just keep on coming, and I continue to be delighted by the amount of participation and enthusiasm being shown! Thank you all for your wonderful contributions and I hope you are all enjoying the week as much as Carolyn and I are!

Here’s today’s round up!

It’s not just humans who are taking part in Virago Reading Week! Dogs are too! The lovely Darlene’s handsome border collie Deacon decided to don an apron to demonstrate the deliciousness of Virago’s anthology The Joy of Food. He does look adorable in a pinny!

Rohan of Novel Readings, whose blog I am delighted to have discovered, has posted a wonderful exploration of Elizabeth Von Armin’s The Enchanted April, inspired by the lovely Danielle of A Work in Progress’ review a couple of years ago, which is well worth reading.

Audrey at Books as Food has written an intriguing review of a lesser known E M Delafield title, Thank Heaven Fasting. As Audrey found out, it was quite different to her initial expecations, and proves that E M Delafield goes much deeper than the light, bright and sparkling Provincial Lady series (which, if you haven’t read them, you should).

The always sensitive and insightful Rachel at Flowers and Stripes has continued to post some beautiful quotes from her Virago reading, today focusing on when relationships break down; some heartbreaking, but lovely, descriptions have been picked out from Nadine Gordimer’s The Lying Days and Pat Barker’s Union Street, neither of which I’ve read, but I very much want to now.

Rochester Reader has, like Darlene, drafted in two friends from the animal kingdom to join her for Virago Reading Week; the adorable Ginger and Georgie, her ‘Pirates at Play‘, otherwise known as an interesting Virago title from Violet Trefusis!

Verity of Verity’s Virago Venture has written a review of the fascinating We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone. An exploration of women working during WW1, Verity recommends it to all fans of Vera Brittain’s spellbinding Testament of Youth, plus it has an introduction by E M Delafield. It has certainly piqued my interest – this is what is so great about Verity’s blog, as she has read so many Viragos, and can highlight some of the more unusual ones you might not come across otherwise.

Claire of The Captive Reader has continued reading Elizabeth Von Arnim, today posting a fantastically alluring review of Elizabeth and Her German Garden. The quotes she has picked out have made me want to drop everything and run through the twenty inches of snow on the streets of Manhattan to the library to take this book out, pronto! You won’t fail to have the same reaction when you read this lovely, passionate evocation of one of my favourite authors’ most famous work!

Claire of Paperback Reader posted a photo of what she’s reading this week…Mollie Panter-Downes’ One Fine Day, one of my favourite Viragos, and Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark. I’m sure I’m not the only one intrigued to find out her thoughts!

Over on Librarything, the wonderful Heather has posted a brilliantly concise review of A Stricken Field by Martha Gellhorn. Inspired by Martha’s experiences as a journalist in wartime Prague, it sounds fascinating and very unique. I’d never heard of Martha Gellhorn before, but now I definitely want to find out more.

Tracey of A Book Sanctuary has written a persuasive and very interesting review of a Nina Bawden novel, A Woman of my Age. I am now regretting not having read any of Nina Bawden’s adult fiction and am excited to read some of her Viragos in future.

Jane of Fleur Fisher in her world has posted a marvellous array of pictures of VMCs posed with her gorgeous dog, Briar. She sent these pictures to various members of the Librarything Virago Group, who she encourages us to go and visit!

The lovely Hayley at Desperate Reader has written a fantastic post all about her Virago collection, how she came across Virago, and how Viragos have changed her life. From helping her to make friends, to introducing her to the blogging world (apparently someone thought she was me!), to forging a precious memory of her grandfather and his friendship with Molly Keane, Viragos have been a real source of joy and importance to her. Complete with photos of her enviable collection, this is a post not to be missed!

Danielle of A Work in Progress has written a very informative and thought provoking post about Elizabeth Taylor and how unfairly she has been critically received and marginalised, as well as giving us a sneak preview of A View of the Harbour.

Old English Rose has posted about an amazing Virago find – a note from one of Jan Struther’s children about essays omitted from Try Anything Twice – do go and have a look!

Last but not least, the adorable Simon of Stuck in a Book has blogged about how he discovered Virago – as usual, in a rather eccentric way! And he’s done a little illustration for us, so go and check it out!

EDITED TO ADD: Oops, I missed some! Thanks to my beady eyed co-host Carolyn for pointing these ones out to me:

Katherine at A Girl Walks into a Bookstore posted about the not oft mentioned Victorian chunkster Crossriggs by Jane and Mary Findlater – very interesting it sounds too, and Katherine found it ‘a strange mix, but strangely compelling’!

Mother, Etc posted about the delightful Molly Keane – she is proving to be a popular choice this week – and her lesser read book, The Knight of Cheerful Countenance. Did you know this book started out as a Mills and Boon, and was written by Keane when she was just 17? I didn’t, and Mother, etc has written a very tempting and informative review.

Finally, Harriet Devine has written a lovely piece on her own introduction to Virago and Antonia White, whose novel Beyond the Glass she is currently reading.

Don’t forget to enter the competitions we are running for you: Carolyn’s photo competition, and my What’s Your Favourite Virago? competition. Also, Thomas’ competition to guess the titles belonging to the cover art in the Virago Reading Week banner is still ongoing!

Excitingly, Virago themselves have got wind of Virago Reading Week and have been absolutely thrilled by its success; check out their post on the Virago blog!

p.s. as you may have read today my favourite Virago is the beautiful Illyrian Spring, sadly out of print. It has traditionally been a terribly hard to find title, but I have noticed today that Amazon UK has a sudden spate of cheap copies available! How serendipitous! So, if you would like a copy, head on over and get yourself one for a song!


  1. Carolyn says:

    I’ve had such a fun time laughing at all the animal pictures today, what a fun idea! (I’ve got a cat who may find himself in one before the week is up!) So many good reviews today. Here’s another one: Crossriggs by Jane & Mary Findlater at A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore.

    Oh and a bit of serendipity for me: I was exploring the only used bookstore in the nearest town (out on the Canadian prairies) and behold, I found a copy of Miss Mole by E.H. Young! Which I had posted about wanting yesterday! There were only two Viragos in the shop and the other one I already owned!

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know – I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of Darlene tying that apron on Deacon!!

      Thanks for the review heads up – I have been lax! So glad you found a Virago – the universe aligned for you, clearly. Aren’t we just having the best week?!

  2. Carolyn says:

    Oh, I found another review you missed: The Knight of Cheerful Countenance by Molly Keane at Mother Etc. — so many mentions of Molly Keane this week I’m going to have to get to her soon!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, thank you! I am rubbish at collating posts it would seem! I know, you must – I love her. Look out for The Rising Tide and Full House – they’re two of my favourites and absolutely wonderful.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Harriet! I hope you’re enjoying Beyond the Glass.

  3. verity says:

    Woop woop – I managed to get one of those copies for £5.80 (including postage) which is quite a lot cheaper than I have seen before – thanks for the heads up – I can’t wait to read it!!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Fantastic! I knew you would be likely to head on over there! Looks like you weren’t the only one, either.

      Now I shall just keep every finger crossed that you love it as much as me, otherwise I will feel terrible!

  4. Darlene says:

    This has been such an amazing week of reader kinship, Rachel! And how exciting that the people at Virago have caught wind of it…you and Carolyn must be thrilled with the response from everyone!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Darlene! I quite agree – I have been blown away at the level of participation. It has just been so lovely. I KNOW! I am buzzing with excitement about that still – it’s just wonderful. Who knew hosting a Reading Week could be this much fun?! And thank YOU for taking part – that photo of Deacon is priceless!

  5. Cristina says:

    This has been a lovely, pleasant week with so many interesting posts and pictures. I have added quite a few authors to my TBR list and am even more fired up about Viragos than before 🙂 I didn’t realise how vast their catalogue was and it’s so diverse!

    I love how Virago has blogged about this too… I assumed that they already knew about it, though, and had supplied the prizes? Or have I got that mixed up?

    I must look out for ‘Illyrian Spring’ too 🙂

    1. bookssnob says:

      Hello Cristina! I’m so glad you have enjoyed this week and have got so much from it – that is exactly what I hoped and it’s so lovely that people have become so fired up about Viragos and found some new titles to add to their TBR lists!

      Well, they did supply the prizes, but the editor of Virago Modern Classics hadn’t heard about it on the office grapevine and she was just thrilled when she discovered all these posts online!

      Yes you MUST – it’s stunning! There are plenty of copies out there, I’m sure…I seem to run into them fairly often!

  6. Danielle says:

    I see I have a lot of reading to catch up on this weekend. Isn’t it exciting to see so many people reading Viragos! And those copies of Illyrian Spring have been snapped up (drat), but if you have some extra case there is a copy on for a mere $999.00! 😉

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know! It really is such a surprise to me still that so many people have gotten involved and have read so much. It’s been wonderful. I am sorry you didn’t manage to snag a copy of Illyrian Spring! Keep checking though, they do come up from time to time!

  7. Well, now I have my reading material for tomorrow! Thanks for the list, from a very bored bed resting mom-to-be.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Ha! Good to know we’re providing you with some distraction – I’m sorry you’re on bed rest and so bored. Hope it will be over soon!

  8. Lyn says:

    I’ve just posted a review of Enid Bagnold’s The Squire. Thanks for the fun of VWR, I’ve loved reading your roundups & discovering so many great blogs.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Lyn! It’s been a pleasure to have you reading along and thank you for taking part!

  9. Lyn says:

    It’s me again! I’ve just posted my VMC pictures for the competition.

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