Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Victorian Celebration



I'm really looking forward to the Victorian Celebration hosted in June and July by Allie of A Literary Odyssey.  I'm a huge fan of Victorian novels -- I'm currently reading/listening to Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens; when I've finished it, I'll have read TEN of his major works!  That also counts as the fifth of the six books for my Victorian Challenge.

But what to read in June and July?  I've perused my TBR bookshelves, and counted thirty Victorian novels or books about Victorians that would qualify for the readalong -- plenty from which to choose:

First, a small pile of unread works by Charles Dickens:


And a slightly larger pile of works by Anthony Trollope:


And a view other Victorian authors yet unread:


As you can see, there are a lot of Penguin classics, and big piles of Trollope, with some Dickens, Hardy, Gaskell, and a few less-famous Victorians mixed in.  I'd love to read three Victorians each month but who knows what will happen?

Of course, so many Victorians wrote 800-page doorstoppers (*cough cough* Anthony Trollope *cough*) that there's no way I can read that many in only two months.  Instead, I'm thinking about choosing from my pile of less-lengthy Victorians.  Here are some of the Victorians that I consider short:

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Odd Women by George Gissing
Diary of a Pilgrimage by Jerome K. Jerome
The Mystery of Mrs. Blencarrow by Margaret Oliphant

And I have some Victorian children's novels in my bookshelves, which might be fun:

The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

I'm also hoping to read one nonfiction book about the Victorian era.  I have several on the TBR list:

Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens
The Carlyles at Home by Thea Holme
Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard
Dickens' Fur Coat and Charlotte's Unanswered Letters by Daniel Pool
Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose

And according to the sign-up post, writers from other countries who wrote during this period will count as well (though not for all the giveaways).  Might be a good opportunity to read another Zola!  I still have a stack of his works to read as well:

L'Assommoir (The Drinking Den)
The Ladies' Paradise
The Masterpiece
Nana
La Terre (The Earth)

So, bloggers, any favorites?  Which are must-reads and which ones can wait?  What are you reading for the Victorian Celebrations?  If you haven't joined already, you can sign up here.  I'm really looking forward to it.

23 comments:

  1. I saw that you won one of the Penguins for Allie's giveaway...how exciting:) Edwin Drood is a must read for sure. For the unfortunate reason that it is short I don't like but what is there is so good and I guarantee you will fly through it. Best wishes for your Victorian journey.

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    1. Yes, that was so exciting! I need to update the post and add that. I may have to wait on Dickens as I'm still listening to Our Mutual Friend on audio, which will take forever since I'm only doing it in the car. I'm thinking about Pictures from Italy, especially since my daughter is going to Rome this summer.

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  2. Have you read Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd? I read it last year and adored it -- it was amazing. My first Hardy -- I was blown away. It was ... 300ish pages on my ereader, I believe, and read quickly. Quite dramatic!

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    1. I've only read Tess and The Mayor of Casterbridge, though I've promised a friend I would read Return of the Native this year. I'll have to take a look at it after I've finished RofN.

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  3. Wow that's a lot of Victorian novels! You are set. I have to say my favorite Victorian novelist is George Eliot and I see you have Daniel Deronda on your pile, so I'd recommend that one.

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    1. It will take me YEARS to finish all those Trollopes! I did start Daniel Deronda last year, I read about half and got stuck. I may watch the miniseries to get me jump-started on it. I loved Middlemarch and I've heard Adam Bede is wonderful also.

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  4. By now you know I absolutely adore The Odd Women but I can also highly recommend The Carlyles at Home. Visiting the actual house last September probably heightened the experience but still...it's wonderful!

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    1. I really want to read The Odd Women, I think it is a must-read this summer. The Carlyles has been on my TBR list since I started reading Persephones, and my library has a copy! That would help me cross books off two lists, so that's a good choice for the summer -- and it's fairly short.

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  5. Not sure if you've already read Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, but it's one of my favourites!

    I noticed you've got A Pair of Blue Eyes in your pile of "others" - I loved it when I read it last year!

    Elise

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    1. First, LOVE your screen name "Editrix." Not enough -ix suffixes used to feminize nouns, in my opinion -- off the top of my head I can only remember "aviatrix." Must google this.

      I do love North and South, read it last year and MUST read more Gaskell soon. Wives & Daughters is an all-time favorite.

      I picked up A Pair of Blue Eyes at a library sale. I do want to get to Hardy eventually but Trollope and Dickens are so tempting!

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  6. I think the proportion of Trollope to Dickens is just right :) and I'm glad to see Margaret Oliphant on your list, she seems overshadowed by Elizabeth Gaskell. I can't remember if you have read Emily Eden - The Semi-Attached Couple and the Semi-Detached House? or if you want Victorian travellers, there is Isabella Bird - but your list is already impressively long & varied.

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    1. I think you recommended Emily Eden when I made my list of Top 10 Victorians earlier this year -- I checked and the college library nearby has it. I do want to read it, thanks again for reminding me.

      I still haven't touched Margaret Oliphant and I have two of her books. Miss Marjoriebanks is tempting but I may stick with Mrs. Blencarrow since it's so short, can cross off more books if I stick with shorter choices.

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  7. I love your pile of Trollope! He is undoubtedly my favourite Victorian author, though I'm also very fond of Thackeray and Gaskell. If you're look for less-lengthy Victorians - and since you mentioned the challenge accepts books from that period by authors of any nationality - Louisa May Alcott's books are nice and quick. And though I don't think of her as a Victorian, Elizabeth von Arnim's first couple of books were published before 1901.

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  8. I think I have more unread books by Trollope than any other author! I love him and silently curse him for writing 47 novels. I'm hoping to get through the Barchester series this year so I suspect The Small House at Allington will be my next Trollope.

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  9. I'm not a blogger, but I will tell you that The Ladies' Paradise is really interesting because it's quite different from your average Zola's work and a more optimistic one than most of his novels.
    Ludo.

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    1. Thanks! I read Pot-Bouille last year, which immediately precedes it in the series. I'm not necessarily reading them in order but I heard it's better to have read that one first. I'll probably read Ladies' Paradise or The Masterpiece next.

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    2. That's because Octave Mouret features both in Pot-Bouille and in The Ladies' Paradise, he also makes an appearance in The Masterpiece later on, while you can find his brother Serge in Abbe Mouret's Transgression.
      Ludo.

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  10. Charles Kingsley also wrote an interesting adult novel called Hypatia about Hypatia of Alexandria, a sort of pagan martyr of the early days of the Catholic church. Its very easy to see where it comes from - mroe than a touch of English anti-Catholic snobbery in it for example - but that was part of its charm for me. Its fairly short. Also George MacDonald wrote a lot of digestible things - The Wise Woman, for example, is a really short fairy-tale thats very intriguing. Even his long novel, Lillith, isn't THAT long, and is VERY interesting if you're interested in the religious thought of dissenters and Unitarians. If you want non-fic you could always read Stracheys Vic biographies, they're supposed to wonderfully gossipy.

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    1. I've heard of Strachey, he sounds intriguing. It would be interesting to read a biography of a Victorian by someone who actually lived during the era. The library has several of his books (including one in the rare books collection which is intriguing). Thanks for the suggestion!

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  11. I loved The Mystery of Edwin Drood! It's unfortunate that it was never completed, but the entire history behind it, including Dickens' near-death and the affter effects of that, plus his relationship with Wilkie Collins ...just fascinating! It also might be good for you to read, since you'll have read Our Mutual Friend (which is closely linked to this whole time period in Dickens' life).

    I'll be reading Our Mutual Friend later this year, and then Dan Simmons' DROOD, which tackles the historical/biographical side of the period when these texts were written. I also plan on reading The Old Curiosity Shop very soon, too!

    As for the others.. I haven't read many. I love Thomas Hardy, so ya can't go wrong there, in my opinion. I also have Agnes Grey on my shelf.. can't recommend it because I haven't read it yet, but I do plan to read it - so that's something, right?

    I haven't read any Trollope which, I know, is rather blasphemous considering how much literature I read and considering my educational background... but oh well!

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    1. I'm underwhelmed by Hardy so far, but I have some more on the TBR list so I haven't given up yet. I'm really enjoying Our Mutual Friend, I think it will be high on my list of Dickens rankings!

      I also have a copy of Drood which I'll tackle after Edwin Drood, and another book called The D Case which is translated from Italian. I think it incorporates the book and possible solutions.

      And if you like Victorians you must really try Trollope! I've read four of his works so far and really enjoyed them. I loved Barchester Towers but it's better to read The Warden first, though it's rather slow starting out. It's short, but worth reading before BT.

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  12. I enjoyed At the Back of the North Wind, Under the Greenwood Tree and The Odd Women. What about 'proprietrix' that's my favourite 'ix'.

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    1. Proprietrix! I really must look up words ending in "ix." There must be a name for that!

      I keep hearing good things about The Odd Women so I'm looking forward to that one.

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