Monday, 21 November 2011

Virago Book Club

Virago have asked me to post a little message to promote their book club. It doesn't exclusively deal with Virago Modern Classics but it still sounds really interesting and any of you that find it easy to get to London might fancy popping along.

Naomi says:

"Virago hosts a live book club event every month during which we invite members of our Book Club to come into Little, Brown for some wine and/or cake and a chat with our featured author and their editor. This month, on 29th November, our book club will be discussing Polly Samson’s Perfect Lives with Polly and Lennie Goodings, her editor. Here is the link for the book club:

All members are able to attend the live event and get a 20% discount at Foyles on the book that is featured each month, as well as unlimited access to our Forum ( where they are free to discuss anything and everything book and/or Virago related!"

Monday, 14 November 2011

Seventh heaven (Hoffman)

It's not often these days that I spot a VMC at the library which I haven't read, but I did last week - it was Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman. I was already aware of Hoffman as quite a prolific author of whom I've already read a couple of books; it turns out that Seventh Heaven is her only VMC. Written in 1990 it must be one of the most recent VMCs to be on the list.

Set in the late 1950s on Long Island, it tells the tale of a mother and son who move to a suburban community and are outcasts. It's a time when social mores are absolute, and a single mother, a divorcee, is considered scandalous. There is a veneer of perfection in the suburb, but it is obvious from early on that there will be cracks and it is only time before they are revealed. To some extent, the arrival of Rita and her son precipitate this.

Reading reviews of Alice Hoffman's work, it seems that she is famous for magical realism in her writing. I have to say that I didn't especially notice that in this book, but this is also one of her more realistic books. I just found the plot and the characters absorbing as she paints a very good picture of life in the suburb.

It's been published once by Virago, with a modern green cover.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Aurora Floyd (Braddon); Now in November (Johnson)

It's been a while, and I actually have been reading VMCs since I last posted, just did not get around to posting about them :( So I am going to briefly mention two very different VMCs in this post.

The first is Aurora Floyd by M.E. Braddon. The author was actually recommended to me last year when I started to get into Wilkie Collins books and was interested in exploring other sensation literature. So when I saw that Braddon had two in the VMC series, I had to get hold of them. Of course sensation literature is particularly good to read in the Autumn as the nights draw in, and I did enjoy this book, even though it took a lot of concentration due to the densely written plot with a lot of pages and very small writing. Do pop over and read Simon Savidge's review of it here; he was disappointed by it after reading her other VMC novel, Lady Audley's secret, so I should certainly give that a go.

The second is Now in November which seems an appropriate title to write about since I have not posted since October, although I read it back then. I spotted this in the local Oxfam bookshop - it was not a VMC that I'd ever heard of and of course I picked it up. It turned out to be a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Josephine Johnson. This is her only VMC, although she did write a handful of other novels. Absolutely wonderful. It won the prize in 1935, and tells the story of a farming family deep in the Depression. Think Grapes of Wrath only somewhat more succinct and written by a female author. It is depressing, it is grim, but it is still an exceptional book that is very much worth reading.