Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Verity's Virago Venture

In January this year, I started reading seriously again. I'd been reading books but without focus and felt that I hadn't really found anything to inspire me. This changed when quite by chance I took out "Dusty Answer" by Rosamund Lehmann from the library. I loved it and eagerly returned to find as many other books by her as possible, and reserved the rest; I read Rosamund Lehmann voraciously throughout January. But where next? I noticed that the copies I had had all been published by Virago, an imprint I'd come across when I'd discovered the works of Antonia White, a few years back. I reread the description of the imprint, and the desire to promote women's fiction, and realised that this was exactly what I needed to get myself reading more widely. It was easy enough to look along the library shelves and in charity shops for familiar green covers, and I discovered Elizabeth Taylor, Molly Keane, Winifred Holtby, and a whole host of others. I felt that I had finally got out of a stagnant reading pattern and was acquainting myself with books which were really worth reading.

As a fairly recent blogger, I admire the ability of bloggers to set themselves challenges. My challenge is so big that I've decided to set up a separate blog from my regular Verity's Virago Venture is a challenge I have set myself to read my way through the Virago Modern Classics and blog about them as I go. I've got a head start, I probably won't reread all of the ones that I've read before, but I will write about them in due course, but even if I read 1 VMC a week, it could take me up to 10 years to complete this challenge.

I can't afford to buy all of the titles, but I'll be on the look out for cheap charity shop copies, and hoping that my library can supply me with the rest. If anyone has spare, unwanted or duplicate Virago books that they would like to donate, then that would be wonderful. And if I end up with spares/duplicates then I will run some giveaways on the blog.

Some of the original green paperbacks have been printed; I'm hoping that I'll be able to note in each blog entry where I can find it out, the publishing history of the title, and include pictures.


  1. This is very exciting. I know that I am going to love reading about your Virago venture and hope I can contribute something along the way.
    As you know I am collecting Viragoes (green and newer) but have a long way to go to catch up on the reading of the ones I already have let alone the ones to come. Mine is more of a lifetime challenge!
    I read Dusty Answer last year but found it a little long and dry towards the end; it also took me longer to read than most other books. I have faith though in other Rosamond Lehmann books sitting on the shelf - which did you enjoy?
    I think it goes without saying that my favourite Virago author is Angela Carter and my favourite novels, Rebecca and I Capture the Castle, are both Viragoes so it is no surprise that I cherish the imprint.
    Good luck and I look forward to reading about your many Virago experiences.

  2. Perhaps you can contribute a guest review when you are reading a Virago book? I can try to get hold of it at the same time!

    All of the other Rosamund Lehmanns are wonderful, Invititation to the waltz and The weather on the streets are just brilliant.

    As you know I have yet to try Angela Carter, but obviously I will get to her eventually. This is a big challenge!

  3. It is a big challenge but you'll do it! You'll majorly enjoy it too!
    I would love to contribute guest reviews! That's a lovely idea. As you know I have a few and I am planning to read Margaret Atwood, Barbara Comyns and Nell Dunn at some point soon. I am also currently reading a Virago/Persephone.

  4. Thanks. Obviously as I have to read ALL the books you'll have to let me know what you fancy reviewing so that I can read it too and add a note or two of my own!

  5. As a huge fan of the Green covers I think this is a splendid idea. I have lots of my shelves and have read many and I look forward to reading all about your discoveries. I will keep an eye out for any I spot though they are less and less in charity shops nowadays - mainly Grisham, Dan Brown and Danielle Steele.

    May I just say three words: Elizabeth von Arnim
    and a few more: Diary of a Provincial Lady.

    two of my favourite authors and discovered through Virago

  6. Thanks Emasl. It is brilliant fun. I love EM Delafield very much - I don't own any of the books (though I have Diary of a provincial daughter) - but I will definitely be writing about her in due course.

    Do come back!

  7. I read about your challenge on Paperback Reader's blog and I thought it was a wonderful idea. I will be following your journey with great interest. I have a few Virago books on my shelf waiting to be read...Barbara Conyms and Angela Carter. Maybe even a few more that I don't know are Viragoes.
    Best of luck

  8. Hello Green Road...thanks for popping in, and please do come back. Hopefully I'll be writing about books that you've got and read at some point along the way - it's going to be a long trip...