Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Keynotes and discords (Egerton) 103

I liked the title of this VMC, it appealed to my musical sensibilities, and so, as it was one that I hadn't read, I asked to borrow it from Simon at Stuck in a book. It's a book of short stories but I have to say I couldn't really get into it. Nice title, nice cover, so I'd own it for that, but not a keeper... Just published the once with an original green cover.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Company parade (Storm Jameson)

I didn't especially enjoy my first encounter with Storm Jameson; Women without men, but as part of this challenge, I have to be willing to give some authors several chances as I plan to read all of the Virago Modern Classics, there is no escape! And this is a good thing; whilst I have yet to find a Molly Keane novel that I have really enjoyed, I'm happy to report that Company Parade was a much better read than Women without men.

This novel centres on the character of Hervey, a young woman who comes to London just after the end of the First World War to make her fortune. We learn in due course that she is married, and her husband Penn is in the airforce. We learn also that she has a young son, at home in Yorkshire with her mother, called Richard, who is one of the reasons behind her trip to London to get a job. Penn is difficult to like, seemingly unwilling to look after his wife and child.

Hervey quickly settles down into the job she finds, writing advertisements, although she has also written a novel which is about to be published. She moves out of the hotel where she first stayed into an attic room. She mades friends with Delia, the lady on the first floor, and other friends both at work and outside it.

This book was intended to be the first one in a longish series of books about the same characters under the banner title "Mirror in darkness"; in the event Jameson only wrote two more, Love in winter and None turn back, both of which are published by Virago, and I will be interested to see how she develops the characters and storylines from this volume. This one has just been published once with an original green cover, which I own.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I'm back... and Ann Veronica (Wells)

I've been seriously dilatory of late, with writing on this blog, and also with reading my Virago Modern Classics. After the binge of last year and the early months of this year, my reading has moved into other areas (mostly childrens books and recipe books, especially cake books). And I've struggled bloggingwise. And I don't have any spare cash at the moment to either order Viragoes from Amazon or to pick them up in charity shops. But I do mean to continue with this challenge, although perhaps at not such a rate as before, and I hope people will keep checking in on it.

What prompted me to get going again was an exciting arrival from Virago; I'm 3/4 of the way through it and am desperate to write about it, but the title is under embargo until the 7th October. I am looking forward to writing about it.

Then I remembered that I had never got around to writing about Ann Veronica, by H.G. Wells, which PaperbackReader Claire had kindly passed on to me. As I mentioned when I got it, I was quite intrigued by the title as I associate HG Wells with science fiction; this book couldn't be more different, being the story of a woman's life. Ann Veronica is, when we meet her, a 20 year old girl, living at home with her father and aunt and subject very much to the conventions of her period and her father's will. Ann Veronica however is an independent sort who decides that she has had enough (this decision follows the culmination of her frustration after she is not allowed to attend a ball that she is invited too), and leaves home to try to make her own way, much to the distress of her family. She goes to London and studies biology at the Imperial College, struggling to make her own way financially. I found the first half of the book about her struggle for independence quite gripping, but the book rather "went off" for me after she falls in love with her married teacher, and suddenly, being in love seems more important than her independence. I suppose actually, I do identify with her feelings as I have become a lot less career orientated since entering a long term relationship, but it didn't feel so satisfying in terms of this book.

It's been published lots of times, but only once by Virago in an original green edition, although I'm not too enamoured by the portrait on the front - bit ugly in my opinion!

Anyway, I still have a number of other VMCs on the TBR pile, and one on loan, so I am sure I will be getting to them in the next months. Please come back and see me :)