A Weekend of Novellas


The novella is probably my favourite literary form – you know how I love short books, and I really admire an author who can pack a lot into not many pages. Favourites from recent years of reading include The Heir by Vita Sackville-West and The Beacon by Susan Hill. Of course, ‘novella’ is a pretty imprecise term, but I would include more or less anything under 200pp.

Inspired by my love of all things short (including my housemate Mel :p ) and by Simon S’s recent discussions of the novella over at Savidge Reads, I’ve decided to have a little readathon at the weekend, and blitz my way through as many novellas as I can manage. It’s been ages since I had a whole day to myself, without other activities going on, so I shall enjoy a whole weekend with nothing (except church on Sunday) interrupting my reading…

And what have I got lined up? I don’t imagine I’ll manage all of these by any means, but waiting to be devoured are…


The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark (160 pages, but ENORMOUS font)
The Turn of the Screw – Henry James (118pp.)
A Kid For Two Farthings – Wolf Mankowitz (128pp.)
Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman – FC Delius (125pp.)
Stevenson under the Palm Trees – Alberto Manguel (103pp.)
The Hours (screenplay) – David Hare (122pp.)
The Loved One – Evelyn Waugh (127pp.)

And, why not, let’s throw in Quilt – Nicholas Royle, mentioned yesterday (159pp.)

Give me a moment to do some quick mental arithmetic… ok, some pretty slow arithmetic… If I manage all eight books, that’s 1052 pages, I think. Hmm. Ok, I might not manage all of them, but I certainly intend to read as many as I can manage!


I can’t wait, I think it’s going to be a fun weekend. And, of course, it’s open to anyone who fancies joining me. I doubt many of you have the luxury of a weekend to indulge in just reading – but why not grab something under 200 pages that you’ve been meaning to read, and call next weekend your Novella Weekend?

15 thoughts on “A Weekend of Novellas

  • August 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm
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    I love novellas, too! It's like instant gratification finishing a good story in an afternoon. The Driver's Seat is a little on the disturbing side, but anything by Muriel Spark is good, and the Henry James is wonderful, too. I'm hoping my library will get in those title sby Peirene Press that I keep seeing on UK blogs–they sound tempting! Enjoy your novella read-athon!

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  • August 16, 2010 at 12:50 am
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    Ah, a readathon sounds nice. I may try to read A Kid for Two Farthings with you, just so I can finish a book of my own! I've been reading Ben-Hur with one of my daughters and we are headed into The Once and Future King next, so a short book sounds esp. nice to me at the moment. Maybe it will rain for you to make it even more cozy? :)

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  • August 16, 2010 at 1:17 am
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    Although I rarely read novellas, I almost always enjoy them. And it looks like I don't any commitments next weekend aside from church on Sunday either. Hmmm…. I know I have A Kid for Two Farthings and Henrietta's War on my shelf. Probably some other novellas too.

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  • August 16, 2010 at 1:53 am
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    I am no good at any kind of goal, the second I set one I almost immediately reject trying to acheive it. But I will be interested to hear about your novella weekend. If you have to pick and choose, by all means pick The Driver's Seat. As Danielle says it is disturbing but so, so good.

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  • August 16, 2010 at 3:18 am
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    Reading has taken a backseat till the wedding is over but I am reading snippets of Georgette Heyer whenever I can (mainly in the car whilst waiting for something). Its helping my sanity if nothing else.

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  • August 16, 2010 at 8:38 am
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    It's not quite a novella but rather a short book, anyway I have Noblesse Oblige edited by Nancy Mitford on my bedside table which I must read soon! I think a lazy reading Sunday is just what I need.

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  • August 16, 2010 at 8:53 am
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    I think I can guess where your page-counting is leading: could you buy 2 novellas instead of 1 book in Project 24?

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  • August 16, 2010 at 9:00 am
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    The Driver's Seat and The Loved One are two of my all-time favourite novellas and I hope that you enjoy(ed) them too!

    I love the sense of achievement in managing to complete several short books in the one day.

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  • August 16, 2010 at 11:04 am
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    Some great books there, I especially enjoyed The Loved One!

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  • August 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm
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    I am only just getting into novella's but am enjoying them in the main. I really hope you enjoy The Drivers Seat, one of my fav reads of the year.

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  • August 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm
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    I've got Portrait of A Mother As A Young Woman and also The Gourmet by Muriel Barbary so I may join you and try and finish them this weekend. I love novellas too and it feels great to finish a book so quickly!

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  • August 18, 2010 at 12:53 pm
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    Danielle – do get your library to request the Peirene Press books if you can, Meike would love the support! And aren't novellas wonderfully satisfying?

    Susan – do read along with me, that would be fun! And I do love reading inside with the rain lashing down outside the window… would it be selfish of me to hope that happens?

    Teresa – Do join in, do!!

    Thomas – I'm usually the same, which is why I never join in challenges – but I've deliberately not chosen an *order* to reading them, which will make it feel more spontaneous to me…

    Mystica – understandable! And, do you know, I've never read any Heyer…

    Naomi – I've been meaning to read that for ages, although haven't been able to track down a copy… any chance I could borrow when you're done?!

    Curzon – haha, I'm not that sneaky! So far I've counted two pamphlets in Project 24, which I could probably have got away with if I *had* been sneaky…

    Claire – ooo, I'm sold. And I absolutely agree – I'll enjoy writing all those titles down on my list of books read – might help me get up to my target of 100!

    Amy – glad to hear another endorsement for that one :)

    Simon – you're the reason I picked it up at the library!

    Sakura – do join in if you can! It'll be fun. I have the Gourmet, which I lent to someone recently – wasn't overly impressed by The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I prefer the idea of The Gourmet.

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  • August 19, 2010 at 10:33 pm
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    I love it when you post pictures of your books because of the older used ones that you have which feel so authentic..

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  • August 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm
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    OK I'll see what I can do this weekend now that I'm back from vacation with claws freshly sharpened. Why are they not just called novels? What's magic about 200 pages? Just curious to know!

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  • August 25, 2010 at 8:35 am
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    Claire – thanks :) although I feel a bit of a fraud, because the two oldest ones were library books…

    Peter – have now posted on this!

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