Tea or Books? #44: Monogamous vs Polygamous, and The Village vs To Bed With Grand Music

After a bit of a hiatus, we’re back with an episode about Marghanita Laski and whether we read one book at a time or many books at once. And because that’s a bit of a mouthful, I’m calling it monogamous vs polygamous. Sorry if you’ve come to this podcast hoping for something else – but stay! We have books.


Tea or Books logoWe’ve really missed doing the podcast, so it’s great to be back! Do get in touch to let us know which you’d pick in each category, and any topics you’d like us to cover in future episodes. Our iTunes page is here, and we love reviews from those willing to go through the hoops required to leave them!

Here are the books and authors we mention in this episode (fewer than usual, which either means I forgot to write them down while editing the podcast, or we’ve lost our touch!):

Reading the Rocks by Brenda Maddox
Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley
Contested Will by James Shapiro
The Village by Marghanita Laski
The Osbornes by E.F. Benson
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Henry James
The Road to Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
Three Fevers by Leo Walmsley
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
The Boat by L.P. Hartley
Marching With April by Hugh Charteris
And Even Now by Max Beerbohm
Secrets of a Woman’s Heart: Later Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett by Hilary Spurling
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards
Vanity Fair by W.M. Thackeray
To Bed With Grand Music by Marghanita Laski
The Village by Marghanita Laski
The Provincial Lady in Wartime by E.M. Delafield
Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh
The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski
Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski
Love on the Supertax by Marghanita Laski
Richmal Crompton
One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
Dorothy Whipple
Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther
The Heir by Vita Sackville-West
All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West

14 thoughts on “Tea or Books? #44: Monogamous vs Polygamous, and The Village vs To Bed With Grand Music

  • September 17, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I like some of the programmes Worsley’s done, but I do agree that she be a teeny bit irritating… As for Marghanita Laski, I had such an indifferent experience with “The Victorian Chaise Longue” that I’ve never wanted to read another. Congrats on the move, though – must be so wonderful to have your books all in one place! :)

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks Karen! And I think you might enjoy some Laskis if you persevere – they’re all so completely different that I can totally see people only liking some of them.

  • September 18, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Interesting post! I too was not moved with Laski. Delafield is still my top favourite.

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Can’t beat Delafield!

  • September 18, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I’m desperately monogamous, though I try to cure myself by reading the odd short story, or the first chapter of another book, hoping it’s going to work, but basically, I’m afraid of getting plots and characters mixed up. I haven’t read anything by Laski yet but I read One Fine Day over a few sultry days in July and it was pure bliss. I’ve read or heard somewhere that Lucy Worsley’s book was packed with exclamation marks. Too much enthusiasm :-). But I must confess that I did enjoy quite a few of her documentaries.

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      Oh, isn’t One Fine Day just sublime? I’ll never get enough of telling people how much I love it, and I’m so glad that I re-read after feeling a bit lukewarm the first time.

      And, oh, exclamation marks in a biography! Oh dear, oh dear…

  • September 18, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Rachel….I totally agree with you! One book at a time, one story at a time, one set of characters at a time. I also like to immerse myself in that particular world, and couldn’t jump around like Simon. Would rattle my old brain too much!

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:25 pm

      The most passionate people in this debate are definitely on Rachel’s side! I admire anybody with such a good attention span.

  • September 19, 2017 at 11:44 am

    I can see the point of reading more than one book if one is fiction, the other non fiction, and as a commuter, I understand a home book and a book for on the move. On the whole though, if a book really engages me, I really want to read that book and no other. So I suppose it depends on the book.

    I read Laski for the first time for this podcast, specially rushing out to buy both Persephone volumes new. And having virtuously done my homework, I waited, smugly, for the podcast. Then I waited some more, and then waited still longer. Till your Ross/Rachel blog appeared! That’ll teach me to be smug. Now must dig out some Vita SW and get cracking.

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Hahaha! I’m very sorry for making you wait so long, but also so excited that we’ve got people reading along! I hope you enjoy the VSWs as well – let us know your thoughts in advance if you like.

  • September 19, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Interesting comparison. Promiscuous Deborah seduces her husband’s friend yet feels no remorse; it is his contempt which corrects the perspective. Both she and her husband are morally bankrupt and use wartime laissez faire as an excuse.

    The Trevors are trying to remain gentry with neither land nor capital to sustain them. They sacrifice Margaret for her sister’s prospects. The Wilsons are resentful that their son should have to emigrate to Australia to quiet Mrs Trevor’s scruples, but I think Laski sees this as a clean slate, an egalitarian society where earning your living is not despised. The Trevors are equally pressed by the nouveau riches who cynically gouge them in a land sale. It seems the upper classes are just as morally bankrupt in this novel as in Grand Music.

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      Oo really interesting reading – thanks for sharing it. She is such an intriguing writer!

  • September 20, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve definitely become a polyreader, especially the last few years. I think it started when I began online book groups, which were sometimes spread out over several months (typically long Victorian novels). I usually tried not to read too far ahead, but then would break it up with other shorter books in between. Nowadays I often have one print book, one audio book, and one book on my phone (I usually can’t get the same book in all three formats, and even if I did, it would be too hard to keep finding my place.)

    All my books are usually all so different that I don’t mix them up — I rarely read two long Victorians, for example. I’ve never had any trouble keeping the plots and characters separate — to me it’s no different than watching multiple TV series at the same time. However, sometimes I end up with four or five or even more books, and it gets to be too much. At that point I usually buckle down and finish them one at a time until the entire list is complete.

    I have read both the Laskis and much preferred The Village, one of my favorite Persephones. It reminds me very much of a Whipple, which is probably why I like it so much!

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      I can’t imagine anybody would be able to just read a zillion page Victorian novel and nothing else for weeks on end! And The Village is so Persephone – well written, enjoyable, transports you to a time and place.


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