I have many Virago titles on my piles and always meant to do at least a Virago reading week for myself. So, when I discovered All Virago/All August, hosted by the Librarything Virago Readers Group on Heavenali’s blog, I decided I would join as well.
Half of the fun is making a list. Juliana (the blank garden) mentioned that she’ll read Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel and I decided to join her. So, that title is pretty certain but I have no clue what else I will be reading. Here are some of the titles on my piles.
Elizabeth Taylor – Angel
Writing stories that are extravagant and fanciful, fifteen-year old Angel retreats to a world of romance, escaping the drabness of provincial life. She knows she is different, that she is destined to become a feted authoress, owner of great riches and of Paradise House . . .
After reading The Lady Irania, publishers Brace and Gilchrist are certain the novel will be a success, in spite of – and perhaps because of – its overblown style. But they are curious as to who could have written such a book: ‘Some old lady, romanticising behind lace-curtains’ . . . ‘Angelica Deverell is too good a name to be true . . . she might be an old man. It would be an amusing variation. You are expecting to meet Mary Anne Evans and in Walks George Eliot twirling his moustache.’ So nothing can prepare them for the pale young woman who sits before them, with not a seed of irony or a grain of humour in her soul.
Rebecca West – The Fountain Overflows
Rose Aubrey is one of a family of four children. Their father, Piers, is the disgraced son of an Irish landowning family, a violent, noble and quite unscrupulous leader of popular causes. His Scottish wife, Clare, is an artist, a tower of strength, fanatically devoted to a musical future for her daughters.
This is the story of their life in south London, a life threatened by Piers’s streak of tragic folly which keeps them on the verge of financial ruin and social disgrace . . .
Elizabeth von Arnim – Elizabeth and her German Garden
May 7th — There were days last winter when I danced for sheer joy out in my frost-bound garden in spite of my years and children. But I did it behind a bush, having a due regard for the decencies …’
Elizabeth’s uniquely witty pen records each season in her beloved garden, where she escapes from the stifling routine of indoors: servants, meals, domestic routine, and the presence of her overbearing husband …
Kate O’Brien – Land of Spices
Mère Marie-Helene once turned her back on life, sealing up her heart in order to devote herself to God. Now the formidable Mother Superior of an Irish convent, she has, for some time, been experiencing grave doubts about her vocation. But when she meets Anna Murphy, the youngest-ever boarder, the little girl’s solemn, poetic nature captivates her and she feels ‘a storm break in her hollow heart’. Between them an unspoken allegiance is formed that will sustain each through the years as the Reverend Mother seeks to combat her growing spiritual aridity and as Anna develops the strength to resist the conventional demands of her background.
Vita Sackville-west – The Edwardians
Sebastian is young, handsome and romantic, the heir to a vast and beautiful English country estate. He is a fixed feature in the eternal round of lavish parties, intrigues and traditions at the cold, decadent heart of Edwardian high society. Everyone knows the role he must play, but Sebastian isn’t sure he wants the part. Position, privilege and wealth are his, if he can resist the lure of a brave new world.
Alice Thomas Ellis – The Summerhouse Trilogy
In “The Summer House” trilogy, three very different women, with three very distinct perspectives, narrate three very witty novels concerning one disastrous wedding in the offing.
“The Clothes in the Wardrobe” Nineteen-year-old Margaret feels more trepidation than joy at the prospect of her marriage to forty-year-old Syl.
“The Skeleton in the Cupboard” Syls’ mother, Mrs. Monro, doesn t know quite what to make of her son s life, but she knows Margaret should not marry him.
“The Fly in the Ointment” And then there s Lili, the free spirit who is determined that the wedding shall not happen, no matter the consequences.
Willa Cather – The Professor’s House
On the eve of his move to a new, more desirable residence, Professor Godfrey St Peter finds himself in the shabby study of his former home. Surrounded by the comforting, familiar sights of his past, he surveys his life and the people he has loved: his wife Lillian, his daughters and, above all, Tom Outland, his most outstanding student and once, his son-in-law to be. Enigmatic and courageous – and a tragic victim of the Great War – Tom has remained a source of inspiration to the professor. But he has also left behind him a troubling legacy which has brought betrayal and fracture to the women he loves most . . .
Have you read any of these books? Which are the ones you liked the most? And will you join as well?