Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The wild geese (Boland)

The wild geese in the title of this Virago Modern Classic are not birds as one might imagine, but are the band of young Irish catholic boys, who, forbidden from being Catholic in Ireland in the 18th century are forced to go to Catholic schools abroad. Few return to Ireland since there are little prospects for Irish catholics.

The book tells the story of a family affected in this way, the Kinross family. The story is cleverly told through letters between the various characters. For a Virago Modern Classic, it is an astonishingly *male* book; the author is female but the cast is not. I didn't find it especially absorbing or a book that I would want to recommend; I'm not sure whether this was due to the lack of women (is it just harder to identify with a book that is mainly about members of the opposite sex?)

This is Boland's only VMC, although she wrote two other novels and was more famous as a scriptwriter and writer of plays. It's just been published once, in an original green edition.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Aloe (Mansfield) 174

A slim green volume caught my eye in Oxfam the other day; it was The aloe by Katherine Mansfield. I was quite pleased, as it is a book which various Katherine Mansfield fans have been looking forward to me encountering (and it was also a slim volume with normal sized type which can be somewhat of a bonus discovery on this venture). I had enjoyed dipping in and out of the two Persephone Katherine Mansfield's earlier this year, they publish her journals and her stories (although I was frustrated by the fact that many of the stories were unfinished).

This volume is a bit of a Mansfield oddity, until Virago republished it, it had only been published once by John Murray in the 1930s. This was partly because Mansfield had reworked it into her longer story, Prelude, which was published by Virginia Woolf, and which I haven't read, although I am now intrigued to go on and see how it compares.

Based on Mansfield's reflections on and attempts to write down and describe her memories of her childhood, The aloe is set in New Zealand and describes a family who have just moved into a new house, and sketches the family members. It's a book to read for the wonderful prose rather than the plot or characters, although they are beautifully drawn.

It's just been published once by Virago with an original green cover, but I found out whilst researching into the book that Capachin Classics are republishing it in October this year.

And if you're in New Zealand, you can visit the house where she lived!

Monday, 28 June 2010

The birds fall down (West) 235

I've had varied success with Rebecca West, I loved The return of the soldier, didn't get on with either Harriet Hume or The thinking reed, and wasn't hugely fussed, but found ok, her Cousin Rosamund trilogy. I was intrigued by what I read about The birds fall down and was hugely pleased to discover that I quite enjoyed reading this mix of political thriller and family story, and didn't even mind the philosophical elements (which were what I struggled with in Harriet Hume and The thinking reed) although it was very long winded and is really quite difficult to write about.

The book is based around the character of eighteen-year-old Laura. Her father is a British MP, her mother, Tania, is the daughter of an exiled Russian royalist. Laura and Tania set out for France to stay with Tania's parents. Tania's mother is ill, and so Laura is then dispatched with her grandfather to stay on the coast. Whilst they make the journey by train, their carriage is invaded by a Russian who subjects the pair to a long diatribe about Russia and suggests that the Tsar is making schemes to protect himself, getting rid of others in the process. Essentially, this is all somewhat of a precursor to the Russian revolution.

The best things about the book for me was reading about Laura; the worst things were the long bits of dialogue dealing with politics - there is a scene set on the train (which West claims was a depiction of real events) which goes on for over 100 pages!

It's been published three times by Virago, and I had the second, italic green edition, from the library. Apparently the BBC also made it into a TV serial.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Brown girl, Brownstones (Marshall)

Brown girl, brownstones is the coming of age story of Selina, a Carribean-American who lives in New York in the 1950s. Her parents emigrated from Barbados, and the book gives a fantastic insight into the experiences of the Barbadian community in the city. Selina has to deal with integrating her parent's values and attitudes based on their life in Barbados with life in New York, both the insular Barbadian community and the wider American community where racism is a problem. Her parents are very different; Silla is hardworking, and Deighton, her father is somewhat lazy, with with dreams for his daughter. Thus there is much to feed into Selina's discovery of her identity.

The book is apparently somewhat autobiographical; Marshall's own parents emigrated during the First World War and Marshall grew up in Brooklyn. I found it an interesting book because I knew very little about this group of immigrants. I enjoyed reading the novel, although I struggled with the dialect used at times and found some bits of the book overly descriptive.

It's just been published once by Virago with an original green cover.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Trooper to the southern cross (Thirkell) 171

Angela Thirkell is an author familiar to me for her Barsetshire books, wonderful, slightly satirical portrayals of English country life and middle class aspirations and folly. I was thus intrigued to see her on the VMC list, not with any of these titles, but another book - Trooper to the Southern Cross. Set in Australia, and written under the male pseudonym of Leslie Parker, this is really quite a different work. Thirkell spent 2 years living in Australia after her marriage to George Thirkell and drew on her experiences there and in particular of her horrific voyage to the continent in writing this book.

The book is told from the perspective of Major Bowen; he comes across as a bit of a character, a public school army type, complacent and very much of the time in his attitudes. In fact, Thirkell captured his identity so well that she managed to carry the pseudonym off successfully - the critics genuinely thought that it was written by a man. The book starts off by relating Bowen's role in the First World War, and how he got together with his wife Celia. But the main part of it deals with telling how he and Celia set out for Australia after the First World War, alongside other officers and their families, prisoners on board, and over 800 rioting diggers. I am sure that Celia must be a reflection of Thirkell to some extent and wondered whether how Bowen talks about her was how Thirkell felt that she must be viewed by her husband.

This book has just been published once by Virago with an original green cover. If you haven't read Thirkell, I would recommend seeking her out, although perhaps not this one which is so very different from the rest of her work. I would love to see some of her Barsetshire books back in print - one to suggest to Virago perhaps?! I've also discovered as part of writing this post that she wrote an autobiography, entitled Three houses, and will be borrowing that from the library very soon.

New acquisitions

There have been several new Virago Modern Classics additions, but today I want to highlight the kindness of two people who read my blog.

Firstly, Julia remembered that I am desperate for the Elizabeth Taylor short story collections; and kindly sent me a spare copy of Hester Lilly which she came across. I've been struggling to read recently as you'll know if you read my other blog (not that you'll have noticed as I had about a month's worth of reviews stacked up, but I'm sure you will do soon as I'll be down to a post or so a week), and it was good to have some short stories to draw on as it made me feel like I was still making some progress in my VMC challenge.

Secondly, Claire spotted a tranch of VMCs in her local second hand bookshop, sent me a list, and very kindly bought them on my behalf and posted them to me! As you can see 3 of them are whoppers so it was very good of her to go to the hassle of packing them up and posting them.

Thank you Claire and Julia!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The camomile (Carswell)

After I wrote about Open the door, JRSM highlighted Carswell's other novel, The camomile: "which was wonderful, about an unconventional Frankfurt-trained music student living in Glasgow in the early '20s. Great stuff.". I liked the sound of it, so got myself a cheap copy from Amazon. And I'm pleased to report that I enjoyed it just as much, if not more as Open the door.

Told through letters to her friend Ruby, and journal entries, also written for Ruby, the book is the semi-autobiographical tale of Ellen Carstairs, a young woman living in Glasgow who is a talented pianist and makes her money by teaching music. But she also has ambitions to write and a happy social life, all of which are described and reflected upon in the book. Ellen is vivid character who is considerably enlightened in her views; for example she feels sad that the wedding of one of her best friends seems more about pragmatism and practicality than driven by love. When she herself becomes engaged she is forced to really think about these issues and whether or not she wants to be bounded by convension.

It's shame Carswell didn't go on to write any more novels - she moved into biographies, writing a life of Robert Burns and then the life of DH Lawrence, who was one of her great friends.

This one has been published just the once by Virago in an original green cover, and I would definitely describe it as one of the hidden VMC gems.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Belinda (Broughton) 154

This wonderful novel, telling the story of Belinda, is set in Dresden in the 1880s (and somehow felt a little reminiscent of Elizabeth von Arnim). Belinda and her sister Sarah are on holiday with their grandmother; Sarah could be described as a bit of a man eater - at one point she declares herself "almost engaged to three men", Belinda is a little more reserved, but falls in love with a young English student David Rivers. Unfortunately, he has to return to England when his father dies, and Belinda resigns herself to having to marry a very staid Professor. It is not a success and Belinda finds very little happiness in her marriage. David Rivers reappears; in a modern novel, Belinda might have little hesitation in abandoning her marriage to go off with him. What is to be done?

There are a couple of excellent, far more extensive synopses on library thing here if you are interested.

A really wonderful novel actually, and certainly one that I would not have come across if it had not been a VMC. Anyone else come across it?

It's the only VMC by Broughton, although I see from library thing that she has written a number of other novels, and has been published just once with an original green cover.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen (Von Arnim)

I was very excited to get a copy of The adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen from ebay as I am really enjoying reading my way through Von Arnim's books at the moment. Her work falls into two types - the novels, and the more autobiographical material, the latter including Elizabeth's German Garden and The solitary summer. This book falls into that category, as

It's a book for the armchair traveller - Elizabeth makes a trip to Rugen, Germany's largest island, a popular holiday destination, and sets out to write a travel guide to it.

This doesn't quite happen:

"My itention when I began this book was to write a useful Guide to Rugen, one that should point out its best parts and least uncomfortable inns to any English or American traveller whose energy lands him on its shores. With every page I write it grows more plain that I shall not fulfil that intention. What, for instance have Charlotte and the bishop's wife of illuminating for the tourist who wants to be shown the way? As I cannot conscientiously praise the inns [Elizabeth's experiences of the inns are of constant discomfort] I will not give their names and what is the use of that to a tourist who wishes to know where to sleep and dine? I meant to describe the Jagdschloss, and find I only repeated a ghost story"...

Rather it turns into a description of her adventures with her usual characteristic wit and self-depracating humour. Although there are smatterings of advice along the way:

"A ripe experience of German pillows in country places leads me to urge the intending traveller to be sure to take his own. The native pillows are mere bags, in which feathers may have been once. There is no substance in them at all. They are of a horrid flabbiness"

Whilst I didn't enjoy this as much as her other two "autobiographical" books, it was entertaining and I think it would make a good holiday read.

It's been published three times by Virago, although the original green and italicised green editions use the same cover image. I own the original green, but rather like the new edition.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The matriarch (Stern) 249

The Matriarch is the first of 5 books dealing with the Rakoniwitz's, a Jewish family in the 1800s. (the second, A deputy was king, (but not the rest) was also published as a Virago Modern Classic). It's essentially a family saga, detailing the lives of many generations of the family. A review I read suggested that the writing and story improved as the book progressed. Unfortunately I didn't make it that far. I am not looking forward to having to have a go at the second one, but maybe it will be better.*

This book has been published just the once with an original green cover.

* I have a new policy with my VMC reading, that I will allow myself "do not finishes" but I do at least have to try the rest of that author's works. I was feeling put off many of the books in my TBR pile because they were big and unappealing. I think it's still within the spirit of the project, but I will tag posts DNF if I did not finish them so we can see at the end how many I didn't complete and which ones they were!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther (Arnim)

Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther is an absolute delight of a novel. Told in a series of letters from Rose-Marie Schmidt to Mr Anstruther it follows both Rose-Marie's life and their relationship. The dashing young Englishman, Mr Anstruther had come into Rose-Marie's life just before the correspondence started; he had lodged with her and her father for a year, and the pair had fallen in love. Before he returned to England, the pair had become engaged, although it had not been formally announced. But the relationship does not progress smoothly, and Mr Anstruther is forced to break off the engagement after his father is keen for him to marry another, more eligible spinster (one of the sub-plots of the letters is the Schmidt's impoverishment and their attempts to make do on a very small income, which includes adventures into vegetarianism (unsuccessful, leaving Rose-Marie and her father extremely hungry!) and other attempts to economise, all related in a very amusing fashion). But the story does not end there. That engagement also ends, and we find that Mr Anstruther and Rose-Marie still have feelings for each other. But will it work out? The end is surprisingly ambiguous. The storyline is well paced, and the wit and humour of the letters are just wonderful.

This title has been published just once, in the original green edition.

Sadly, I've only got one more VMC Elizabeth Von Arnim to read, her autobiography, All the dogs of my life. But the good news is that she has written a number of other books which Virago haven't yet published. I recently read Princess Priscilla's Fortnight which was absolutely hilarious and I'm looking forward to discovering more of her books. Hurrah for Virago introducing me to a truly wonderful author - I think she really is one of the discoveries of this reading project.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Border lines (Turner Hospital) 335

I hadn't come across Janette Turner Hospital before finding Borderline in an Oxfam bookshop; I picked it up merely because it was an original green Virago and the picture on the front was a little horrifying. It turns out that she is quite an eminent writer - you can find more out about her here - from Australia with a whole string of novels to her name.

The book had a very slow start, and I never actually really got into it. It's the story of three people who meet at the border between America and Canada. Felicity and Gus end up helping Dolores, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, rescuing her from the freezer where she is hiding and taking her to a remote cottage in Quebec to hide.

Much of the commentary that I have seen about this book suggests that it is much more complex than a straightforward thriller, using the concepts of immigration, border crossing and identity to explore boundaries, both personal and political, and where the lines are and should be drawn. I have to say that I felt that JHT's desire to explore these issues didn't make the book particularly enjoyable for me to read.

Still, I've got another chance to give JTH a go, as her book The last magician is also a VMC.

It's been published twice by Virago in both original green and modern green covers.

Monday, 14 June 2010

I will not serve (Mayhere) 142

From the blurb on the back of this book, I will not serve sounded like a bit of a mix between something by Antonia White and Olivia (schoolgirl in love with teacher expelled from a convent school). In fact, when I opened the book I found that it had been translated from the French by Antonia White.

It is a book about Sylvie, 17 years old. She has fallen in love with one of the nuns at the convent where she has been studying and is expelled. The book opens with a number of letters from Sylvie to Julienne, the nun, trying to sort out her feelings. But Julienne is advised by the convent to remain silent, which she does, until Sylvie deliberately makes herself ill in an attempt to get her attention back again. The book also uses extracts from Sylvie's journal and letters to her cousin Claude to build up the story, and the reader is forced to consider huge and weighty themes of religion, love and obsession. But because the writing, and White's translation is so lyrical and beautiful, the book is an absolutely lovely to read.

There is an absolutely lovely review of this book by Fleur Fisher here...

It's just been published once by Virago, in an original green cover, and I think it is comparatively rare.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Sights unseen (Gibbons) 439

Not knowing anything very much about Sights unseen, I was certainly compelled by the opening passage:

"Had I known my mother was being given electro-convulsive therapy while I was dressing for school on eight consecutive Monday mornings, I do not think I could have buttoned my blouses or tied my shoes or located my homework. I see myself fumbling with the snap on my skirt, trying to connect the sides, turning around in a circle like a cat chasing its tail. I was twelve, deemed too young to be told what was happening to her and in fact too innocent to surmise it".

As regular readers will know, I am interested in books about madness, and there have been a number of VMCs that fit the bill (The Ha-Ha by Dawson, Shutter of Snow by Emily Holmes Colman, Antonia White, Janet Frame's autobiography), so it was good to stumble on this, especially as there are less books about the condition of bi-polar disorder (although beyond the scope of this blog I do recommend anything by Kay Redfield Jamieson).

The book is a portrait of Maggie Barnes, told through the eyes of her daughter Hattiw, and how her manic depression affects both Maggie and the family. What is particularly good about this book is the insights it gives into suffering the condition as well as what those close to the sufferer are going through. Gibbons shows that it is hugely destructive, but at the same time uses humour in some situations; and this strikes true with regards to my experience of having a very close friend with it.

I've not read any Gibbons before, but she has two other VMCs, A virtuous woman and Ellen Foster. This one was published just once by Virago in 1997 in a modern green edition.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Loving without tears (Keane) 286

As regular readers will know, I've struggled to get into Keane's writing and remain indifferent about her - it was only spotting a lovely original green edition of Loving without tears with a really lovely cover image (see below) which convinced me to pick it up (ok, yes, I'm a sucker for book as object as well as book as something to read...)

It was a reasonably enjoyable read - like many of other Keane's books it centres around a family living in a country house. Angel, the mother of Slaney (a girl!) and Julian, is widowed and relies on her family and servants to run her life according to her desires. Julian went away as a result of the war, and when he returns, it is with an American fiance. This is not what Angel planned, and the book develops the story of Angel discovering that she can't necessarily run things exactly as she wants them. I didn't find Angel particularly likeable, but at the same time, she wasn't especially dislikeable - she was a bit of a nothingness, but I was relieved to find nonetheless that she did get some comeuppance at the end.

It's only been published twice by Virago, it doesn't seem to have made it into the recent highly coloured reprints that some of her other work has seen.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Delta wedding (Welty) 79

Delta wedding is Welty's first proper novel, if Robber Bridegroom is seen as an extended fairy tale. Having read Robber Bridegroom, which I had very much enjoyed, and a little while ago, Losing Battles, which I hadn't, I was interested to come to this. Like Losing battles the story is concentrated over a short space of time, the weekend of a wedding. Eight year old Laura travels from Jackson, Missisippi, to Shellmund, the family plantation, following the death of her mother, and for the purposes of attending a wedding between Dabney and Troy. Welty paints a fascinating picture of plantation life and of the relationships within the family.

The introduction particularly interested me; apparently Welty was also interested in photography as much as writing, especially in the early stages of her career, and Paul Binding suggests that this had a big influence on this novel. I could see what he meant; the plot was secondary to the descriptions of the characters, and the chapters were almost like snapshots or vignettes. Character is certainly one of Welty's strongpoints.

Still not convinced that Welty is for me - guess I need to try The optimist's daughter which I believe is her "big one".

Published twice by Virago, I have the later "modern" green edition.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Rhapsody (Edwards) 204

I loved Dorothy Edward's Winter Sonata, so I was keen to get hold of Rhapsody to read as well. This is a book of short stories by Edwards which pre-dates Winter Sonata. As I wrote in my ealrier post, Edwards only wrote one novel and some short stories before tragically committing suicide at the age of 21.

The stories have similar themes and settings to Winter Sonata; they feature country houses, walks, and a world which was very different to Edwards' socialist upbringing and then fairly poor adulthood. Music is a recurrent motif. Not my favourite short story collection but certainly interesting to read as a companion to Winter Sonata.

Like Winter Sonata, it was just published once by Virago with this original green cover.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Celia (Young) 332

Having enjoyed a number of EH Young's novels as part of this challenge, I was pleased to come across a copy of Celia. Set in Radstowe, like many of her other books, it's a book about marriage and relationships. Celia, the main character, has been married for years, and is bored and disappointed by both marriage and life. Rather than a plot driven book, it is more about the characters. I warmed to Celia and her daughter Catherine, a 17 year old school girl, and enjoyed reading about their lives. Ultimately, I don't think it was my favourite EH Young, but it was certainly enjoyable. And I am particularly looking forward to the last EH Young VMC that I have to read - Jenny Wren.

It's been published twice by Virago, in original green and italicised green covers. But both use the same image. My copy is the original one :)

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Latest acquisition - the latest VMC

The daylight and the dust: selected short stories by Janet Frame is the latest Virago Modern Classic (number 552) and was kindly sent to me ahead of its publication by Sophie from Virago. I've come across Janet Frame before - her autobiography was also republished by Virago this year, and I wrote about it here, and here. So it is interesting to have the chance to peruse some of Frame's stories.

The back-cover quotes Frame: "I'm a short-story addict, both reading and writing them, and I always keep hoping for the perfect story". This belief is certainly evident in this new book; the stories contained within it are taken from the four collections of stories that Frame wrote over her life, and it's a difficult collection to sum up. The stories range in length, from a couple of pages to about ten, they range in theme from childhood, to old age, and the locations are as far apart as Frame's native New Zealand and London. I was expecting there to be more on the theme of "madness", reflecting on Frame's journey through mental illness, but perhaps not focussing on this was part of her method of escapism? Anyway, there are certainly some wonderful stories in the book, although as usual I struggled with such bitesized works of literature.

The volume is ably introduced by Michele Roberts, who has her own volume of short stories out this month, also published by Virago. It's called Mud, and although not a short-story lover, I did enjoy dipping in and out of this collection which also cover a wide range of topics, but primarily from a female perspective. Michele Roberts is also one of those authors who one feels should be part of the Virago Modern Classics list so I would certainly recommend looking out for this one too.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Enormous changes at the last minute (Paley) 9

I picked up Enormous changes at the last minute in the Books and Comics Exchange in Notting Hill simply because it was a green Virago (in excellent condition) that I hadn't read; this was much to the potential dismay of my companion who would have nabbed it if she had seen it first. She told me that it was rather collectable and that Paley's writing is pretty well respected.

It's a book of short stories, some are very short indeed, set in New York, and mainly dealing with characters falling in and out of love. Because it's a short story volume (because, Paley, who never published a novel apparently once said "Art is too long, and life is too short. There's a lot more to do in life than just writing), I wasn't sure that it would be a keeper. But it is, if just for the first story, "Wants".

A mere 2.5pp long, "Wants" is the story of a woman returning two very overdue library books (themselves VMCs - Wharton's House of mirth, and The children). She runs into her ex-husband, and then begins to reflect on what she wants from life:

"I want, for instance, to be a different person. I Want to be the woman who brings these two books back in two weeks. I want to be the effective citizen who changes the school system and addresses the Boart of Estimate of the troubles of this dear urban centrer. I had promised my children to end the war before they grew up. I wanted to have been married forever to one person..."

But she realises that at least she has returned the library books this time, so may be in a position ultimately to do something about her wants.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


Yesterday, I wrote about my 276th Virago Modern Classic - which, given that there are currently 552 in the list means that I am halfway through my venture. Not bad going given that I only started in July this year! Of course, I had read a number of these before embarking on the challenge, so the figure is slightly artificially updated by the "catch-up" posts that I have written (I'm nearly up to date with those, the only author that I have read and not blogged about is Elizabeth Taylor but I'm holding out until I manage to get myself a complete set of her books in the original green editions!). But I'm still pleased with the progress of the challenge, and maybe it won't take the 10 years to complete that I originally anticipated. On the other hand, many of the books that I have left may be difficult to track down, and others are really long (four volumes of Pilgrimage only count as one book according to the master list), and Virago are still issuing more modern classics at the rate of about 10 a year. So I still feel somewhat daunted by my challenge, but hopefully there are many more wonderful books out there to be discovered.

But it still represents a pretty big achievement I think. Big thanks to Virago for their help, sending me copies of the latest VMCs and some of the other ones too. Many thanks to all of my wonderful readers who have commented, and shown interest in the project, and who have lent me books, and those who have given me books along the way - I've been absolutely bowled over by people's generosity!

To celebrate, I'd like to giveaway a surprise VMC to one lucky reader. Tell me which out of the VMCs that I have yet to read, you'd most like to see me reading (that might involve a little research!).

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The robber bridegroom (Welty) 80

Kindly lent to me by Claire from Paperback Reader, The Robber Bridegroom is Eudora Welty's first novel and quite a contrast to the only other Welty that I have read, Losing Battles. The book is a retelling of one of the Grimm's Fairy tales, of the same name, only set in Welty's Missouri. The original story is recognisable, with a wicked stepmother, beautiful heroine, wonderful hero, weak father , and a "happily ever after" ending. I don't know anything at all about American folklore, but according to the introduction Welty drew heavily on it to turn the story into a novella by adding other characters. It was interesting to read this tale in a completely different setting; after all I suppose this is what folk lore and fairy tales are really about - familiar stories, retold in the situation inhabited by the storytellers.

I'm hugely intrigued now to read more by Welty - I greatly enjoyed this version of a fairy tale, and am curious to come across more of her writing and see whether her other books are like this or more like Losing battles.

It's been published twice by Virago, with an original green cover (which was the edition that Claire lent me) and a modern green cover.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Summer will show (Townsend Warner)

Summer will show is an extremely interesting novel that falls into two parts. It centres around the character of Sophia Willoughby, a young aristocratic woman. In the first part we are introduced to Sophia, the young aristocratic woman around whom the novel centres. Controversially for the 1840s, she has an unusual degree of freedom, having inherited land from her family. Consequently, when her husband has an affair, she sends him away to France to live with his mistress. Her life changes when both of her young children die of smallpox. She follows her husband to France. She arrives in the Spring of 1848, just as France is about to undergo revolution, and becomes both trapped by it and caught up in it, and embarks on a relationship with her husband's mistress.

It's been published just one in a VMC edition with this fantastic cover that has a very revolutionary feel.

(PS: I hope Summer will show around here sometime soon - the weather has reverted to its normal grey chilly dismallness and I want to get my flipflops out again)