Thursday, 1 October 2009

Holtby : South Riding 273, The Crowded Street 66.

I started reading Anderby Wold by Winifred Holtby last night, but didn't quite finish it, so I thought it might be appropriate in the meantime to write about the two other Holtby novels published as Virago modern classics which I have already read; South Riding and The crowded street.

I read South Riding many years ago. I had come across Winifred Holtby through Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth (which I shall have to blog about sometime soon as it is also published as a VMC), and then later Brittain's Testament of Friendship, and so when I spotted South Riding in the library I borrowed it to find out more about this author. I loved the novel, Holtby's last and often suggested to be her finest, very much indeed. Set in the 1930s, the book is the tale of a provincial English community, strongly influenced by Holtby's socialist values. There is also a film apparently, which I have not seen - has anyone?

I came across The crowded Street through the Persephone imprint; perusing their catalogue it sounded like an interesting title by an author who I had already enjoyed. I was restrained and borrowed a copy (neither a Virago or Persephone edition I'm afraid) from the library.
Claire from Paperback reader wrote about it earlier this year, and having read her review I remembered how much I had enjoyed it, and The crowded Street got added to my wish-list of books. I will let you read her review for a description of the novel. Of course I'd love to own it in both Persephone and Virago editions, as I love the illustration on the green cover, but love the Persephone endpapers.

There are two covers for South Riding. I noted the other day when writing about Mrs Miniver that Virago had reused the same image for both green editions of the title and thought this unusual; however the same is true here, so it may be more common than I thought. Just the one edition for The crowded street.


  1. I also love the illustration on the front of The Crowded Street so just as well I haven't come across a copy yet! The Persephone endpapers are lovely though.

    I am very excited about your review of Anderby Wold; I really want to read it after the positive experience of The Crowded Street.

    You forgot to mention the forthcoming BBC adaptation...

  2. BBC adaptation?! That sounds exciting!

    I want to read South Riding too but whenever I find it it's always in a grubby BCA hardback and I want the original Virago!

    I have Anderby Wold on the TBR pile...I love that you get through books in one evening...once I get home from work, my brain shuts down and I'm lucky if I get one chapter read before bedtime!

  3. Ah yes, I forgot about that - rubbish short term memory. I look forward to seeing it. According to that sticker on the cover that I got from library thing it has been filmed before.

    Rachel - I have to say I'm avoiding the longer VMCs!!

  4. Both wonderful books - but The Crowded Street will always be a Virago and not a Persephone to me! I have Anderby Wold, but I'm spreading out the Holtbys because I love them so much and worry about the day when I won't have a new one to look forward to.

  5. I am looking out for Holtby VMC's wherever I go - I really want to read South Riding and The Crowded Street but I want the VMC's although I will probably cave in and get the Persephone edition of The Crowded Street. It's still beautiful.

  6. Fleurfisher - am intrigued about your comment that Crowded street will always be a Virago to you...I hadn't really thought of books being in certain editions, but they are, aren't they! I suppose it depends what one encounters first, unless one makes the discovery of an exceptionally wonderful edition later.

    Bloomsbury Bell - good luck with your search! I do want Virago copies of both of those books now.