Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The fly on the wheel (Thurston)

Another day, another Virago modern classic - this time The fly on the wheel by Katherine Cecil Thurston. And a book that I found very typical of original green Viragos; I'm not sure how to explain it but sometimes one feels that books are particularly original green Virago-ish and this was one of them.

Set in the late 19th century (Victorian - check), in the village of Waterford (village - check), the blurb describes it as a "vivid portrait of social behaviour" (social behaviour them - check) "among the Catholic middle classes" (religious element - check). It centres around the character of Isabel Costello (even the name of the heroine felt particularly VMCish) who has become engaged (marital relationship - check) to Frank, a young doctor. But his brother Stephen intervenes (the path of love is never smooth - check) as Frank lacks money and Isabel has none bestowed on her either.

Things got a little more interesting and untypical when Isabel and Stephen who is married with children fall in love, but I couldn't help feel that Thurston was almost writing to a formula, or that Virago republished this book because it fitted in with her formula.
Maybe I am being a little unfair to this book...I enjoyed it, but somehow it felt like so many of the books that I have already read for this challenge.

Thurston, the author, only wrote two novels, dying early (promising career cut short - check) and this is her only VMC.

It's just been published once, in the original green cover version, which I own.


  1. Your VMC checklist is so funny! Sadly, I haven't read enough VMCs to see any patterns. I'll probably start the VMCs in earnest after I finish the Persephones.

  2. I read a pile of VMC's a few years ago which were all about surplus women. Excellent books each and every one but eventually really depressing. I guess at this point in your challange this is going to happen more to you, it's probably why little brown felt the need to condiderably trim the virago back list as well.