Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Virago Reading Week

It's Virago Reading Week!  For those are you who are not familiar, the Virago Press is a British company that publishes books by women, both classic and contemporary, and includes American as well as British writers.  Authors range from Jane Austen, Edith Wharton and the Brontes to current works by Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood and Maya Angelou.  Luckily for us Yanks, they're readily available on this side of the pond as well.

Lots of bloggers are participating, and I hope to jump in with at least one book review this week.  After perusing my to-read shelves, I realized I own no less than sixteen (unread) books that are currently or have been previously published by Virago (though not all in Virago editions).  Here are my choices:

  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • The Professor’s House by Willa Cather
  • The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  • The Brontes Went to Woolworth’s by Rachel Ferguson
  • Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehman
  • Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant
  • The Love Child by Edith Olivier
  • Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
  • All the Dogs of My Life by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
  • The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
  • The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
  • Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton
  • The Virago Book of Ghost Stories

That's enough for about five or six Virago Reading Weeks!  Well, if nothing else, I should cross a few of these off my to-read list.  At the moment, my top choice is The Professor's House by Willa Cather -- I haven't read anything by her but My Antonia and O, Pioneers!, both of which I loved.  The Song of the Lark sounds great also.  

I'm hoping to get through at least two of these, maybe three if time allows.  Besides Cather, I'm hoping to read some more Edith Wharton, then probably either Excellent Women by Barbara Pym or The Brontes Go to Woolworth's by Rachel Ferguson or All the Dogs of My Life by Elizabeth von Arnim.  Something short.  I may try to squeeze in a few of the ghost stories as well.  Bloggers, what can you recommend from my list?  And are you reading any Viragos this week?  I look forward to reading all the posts -- and adding a ton of books to my must-read-someday list.

Update:  I had to correct the number of owned-and-unread Virago titles to sixteen -- I forgot about Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty!


  1. Oooooooooh, I am so envious of All of the dogs of my life - it is the only EvA that I have yet to read but it is so pricey over here - even second hand copiers are £10.

  2. So great that you own all those books! I haven't read any of them so I can't make any recommendations, other than liking the sound of Miss Marjoribanks. I have four books on my TBR list that begin with Miss, and all of them very highly recommended.

  3. Karen, you have some wonderful choices here! I am reading Cather this week and loving it, so I am pushing for The Professor's House. I'd also love to know how you get on with The Brontes Went to Woolworths - I found it a very odd book and I'm not entirely sure I enjoyed it!

    The Fountain Overflows is a remarkable, lovely book. Do read that too if you get time!

    Thank you so much for taking part - it's wonderful to have you and your enthusiasm reading along!

  4. Hm, the only one of those I have is My Cousin Rachel and it's too late for me to read this week! Ah well.

  5. All the blogs about Virago week have made me realise that I haven't been keeping up with what has been coming out of the press. I was there at the beginning and read everything they published, but I've got left behind. I shall have to do something about that.

  6. Verity -- I'm so surprised the All the Dogs of My Life is so expensive! I know exactly how you feel -- there are some Persephones I just can't get over here from the libraries and Book Depository never seems to have them in stock. I'm going to have to break down and buy them from the Persephone website and the shipping alone is 6 pounds per book for airmail. Ouch!

    Motheretc -- I did notice that two of my favorites from last year (both Persephones) are Miss Pettigrew and Miss Buncle. What is it about books with Miss in the title? I want to read Miss Marjoriebanks but it's quite hefty and I have so many more I want to read, it will probably have to wait.

    Bookssnob -- I have just started The Professor's House and I like it already. Rebecca West looks so good but I'll probably try to squeeze in a couple of short books instead.

    Amanda -- Let me know when you get around to reading My Cousin Rachel, maybe we can do a readalong. I hope I like it better than Jamaica Inn.

    Annie -- it sounds like you have a good head start on the Virago catalog! They have so many books, I'll probably never get through them all. At least I know I'll never run out of good books to read.

  7. So many wonderful choices! I just finished Excellent Women and can't wait to read more Pym.... am also a big fan of Willa Cather. Decisions, decisions...

  8. The Dud Avocado is one of my all-time favorite books. I'd recommend that one!

  9. What a lovely selection of titles. Willa Cather is wonderful, and the Virago editions of her work in my college library were my first introduction to American classics.

    If I had to pick one book it would be the Love-Child, but the best advice I can give is to read the book that calls you the loudest as they all have sommething to offer.

  10. JoAnn -- Excellent Women is at the top of the list, I've heard she's very like Jane Austen so I'm intrigued. There are so many Willas I haven't read! I just started The Professor's House and I really like it.

    Brenna -- I keep reading about how great this is, I was so happy to find a copy last year at Half-Price Books. It looks like a fun read.

    Fleurfisher -- I didn't discover Cather until I was long past college, and I am so sorry I waited. I so regret that I wasn't a lit major in college. I'm making up for it now. And I bought The Love Child recently based on all the blogosphere buzz. I look forward to reading it.

  11. I've read a few of the books on your list & I'd recommend Villette, Miss Marjoribanks, Excellent Women, My Cousin Rachel & the ghost stories. All wonderful. I hope you enjoy whichever book you choose.

  12. I haven't read any of your VMCs, but I think you can never go wrong with Cather! I adore her.

  13. So many lovely titles there - some made me laugh - Dud Avocado was one - All the Dogs of my Life was another. Do read Excellent Women - it was my first Barbara Pym and is ...well....excellent. I really must read a Willa Cather...keep seeing that name mentioned everywhere....enjoy Virago Reading Week !

  14. For some reason I didn't get around to joining up for the Virago week. I think you'll enjoy The Professor's House. I enjoyed The Brontes Went to Woolworths, Excellent Women, Villette, the du Mauriers. I was lucky to get my copy of the EvA for 99p - and it was new!
    I really want to read The Song of the Lark and Miss Marjoribanks (pronounced Marchbanks)- in fact I want to read them all. Now I'm jealous!

  15. The Brontes Went to Woolworths is one of my all-time favorite books. I reread it every year. But it's definitely quirky. I've only managed to talk a couple of my reading friends into reading it, and no one has seemed to like it very much. I'll be curious to see what you think!

  16. Lynn -- I'm working my way through the ghost stories and I've also started Excellent Women. I've signed up for a Villette readalong so I'll probably start it this week.

    Anbolyn -- The Professor's House makes me want to read more Cather. Can't believe I've only read three of her books so far.

    Luvvie -- I have so many Viragos to read, it could easily be a Virago month. Or even Months. The Dud Avocado looks like fun.

    Katrina -- I love book finds like that! And thank you for the correct pronunciation of Marjoribanks, I had no idea. I want to read all of them so I just need to stay out of the library and read off my own shelves. No excuses!

    Elisabeth -- I did glimpse at The Brontes the other day but I was in a funk and not in the mood for quirky. I do want to give it another chance though as it looks so interesting.


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