I was reminded earlier this week how much I enjoyed reading South Riding and The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby (I shall post about them tomorrow). I then remembered that I had another novel by her on the VMC TBR shelf and decided that it was time to read it. Consulting my list of VMCs I am delighted to find that there are six Holtby titles on the list, so I have another three to look forward to.
Anderby Wold is Holtby's first novel, and it was suggested by the introduction that in some ways it was a rehearsal for South Riding; certainly many of the themes, such as country life and socialism, and features, such as strongly characterised women are present.
It tells the tale of Mary Robson, heiress to Anderby Wold. The book opens with a party to celebrate the fact that she and her husband have paid off the mortgage on the estate which Mary was left with after her father's death. Anderby Wold is quite literally the focus of Mary's life, and attempts by her cousin to get her to "loosen up" in modern parlance are quite futile. She also struggles with her relationship with her husband John who is extremely dull. Aged 28, she is faced with being middle-aged before her time.
However, into her life comes David Rossitur, a young man who she takes in on a rainy night. Rossitur is deeply committed to social reform, and quite by chance Mary has read one of his pamphlets a fortnight earlier, but completely dismissed his ideas. Encountering the man and his ideas himself is a different matter and Mary finds her life strongly influenced, much to the dismay of her cousins and the surrounding community.
Apparently there is a biography of Holtby published by Virago; I would certainly like to read this now to find out more about her life as both writer and social reformist.
Just the one cover above. I definitely think that this should be a candidate for Virago to re-issue.