All Virago/All August

I’m sitting in lovely Somerset at the moment, cat… well, somewhere, she’s off exploring. And I’m musing over reading plans for my holiday. I don’t normally plan my ahead for my fun-reading (since university and book group reading are scheduled as it is) but I did think I might get on board with ‘All Virago/All August’. Not to be confused with Virago Reading Week, which I’m hoping will come back next year, AV/AA is run by the Virago Modern Classics group on LibraryThing. It seems to be pretty informal – just a way of encouraging people to read the VMCs they’ve got waiting.


Well, most of the books I want to read soon are in Oxford, so I’m basically going to pick at whim down here in Somerset. Not that I’m short on books here – most of my collection is housed in my Chiselborough room – but the ones which I *really know* I want to read soon aren’t here. Which means there are shelves and shelves of things with exciting potential…


Sprinkled through this post are my Virago shelves in Chiselborough. I have another 20 or so in Oxford – not a huge collection, compared to many members of the LibraryThing group, but enough unread to keep me going for August (and, indeed, probably most of 2012). Sorry the pictures are a bit blurry – however often I took pics, I couldn’t get them any crisper than that. Hopefully you can make out the titles!

Of the ones I’ve not read, here are six which caught my eye. Any thoughts? (Oh, and I already love Ivy C-B, so no need to try and warn me off her! I know she’s an acquired taste…)


And if you’re a member of LT and not yet in the VMC group, I encourage you to join! I signed up months and months ago, but only recently started posting – they’re very friendly, knowledgable, and even share out duplicate copies, when they turn up.


I’ll let you know how I get on with All Virago/All August. I doubt I’ll only read Virago novels during the month (indeed, I’m having something of a reader’s block at the moment, and just started the most unlikely book – will tell you about it later) – but I’m hoping to read at least two or three that have been waiting for my attention.

17 thoughts on “All Virago/All August

  • July 31, 2011 at 11:12 pm
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    I don't know the other five, but I loved Red Pottage. I even wrote a chapter on it for my master's thesis.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 1:43 am
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    I haven't read any of your picks yet, but I know Red Pottage gets a lot of praise over in that LT group you mentioned, and I think it's one of the less widely available titles in the VMC collection, so you're lucky to have a copy. I think I'll be trying for two or three Viragos in August myself. Looking forward to it!

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  • August 1, 2011 at 2:28 am
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    I love The Crowded Street. It's a really inspiring look at how one young woman in the Edwardian, World War I, and Inter-War eras finds herself and deals with the pressure to marry. Even though I really enjoyed South Riding and Poor Caroline, it's definitely my favourite Winifred Holtby novel.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 6:48 am
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    I'll second The Crowded Street, which I thoroughly enjoyed (and found somewhat melodramatic).

    I've heard wonderful things about Red Pottage and The Shutter of Snow and would also suggest Grace Paley.

    Pray, why do you have two copies of Our Spoons Came From Woolworths and why does one of them have the title inverted on spine? Just curious.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 6:51 am
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    I read Sleepless Nights recently, in the lovely NYRB edition. Thumbs up from me – look out for a beautiful passage about Billie Holiday.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 7:24 am
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    I doubt I will ever get to them but drooling over them seems good enough for now!

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  • August 1, 2011 at 8:59 am
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    I'd recommend Red Pottage & Crowded Street. I love the Pre-Raphaelite cover of RP, you are lucky to have a copy. I read a library copy over 20 years ago.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 9:12 am
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    Another vote for Red Pottage here. A great book, sadly neglected these days.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm
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    I love the idea of having books waiting for you when you land at your destination. And the Elizabeth Taylor titles would come first with me. Enjoy your green August!

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  • August 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm
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    I have read Margaret Laurence's "Jest of God" and thought it was pretty good. However, her other novel (called "Stone Angel") is much much better. But still, Jest is still a good read. Not sure of the others, but do have a load of Viragos that I need to look at.

    liz in Texas

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  • August 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm
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    Here's another vote for 'Red Pottage'—I read it a few years ago, and was knocked out by it! A really fascinating novel.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm
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    And, speaking of Mary Cholmondeley, I highly recommend her supernatural short story, 'Let Loose'. It's appeared in several anthologies, including Ramsey Campbell's excellent 'Meddling with Ghosts' which focuses on stories in the tradition of the Master of the Ghost Story, Montague Rhodes James.

    (I'm currently reading Barbara Comyns–The Vet's Daughter—in a Virago edition with the lovely Stanley Spencer cover.)

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  • August 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm
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    I read in an interview with Carmen Calil that Red Pottage was one of her favourite VMCs…

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  • August 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm
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    Sleepless Nights or Red Pottage I would go for, the first I like the cover of and the second I like the title alone. (I have just spotted C.B recommends that which is a recommendation in itself.)

    I must read that Ivy Compton Burnett you gave me.

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