On not sticking to a schedule

I love taking part in group reads. I belong to a Yahoo 19th century book group which has been responsible for introducing me to some wonderful books by authors I’d never heard of like Allen Raine & Elinore Pruitt Stewart to name just two. I’m also a member of another online group & among much book talk & talk of every kind on topics from marmalade to hats, we occasionally decide to read a Victorian novel in instalments.

As Barnaby Rudge is my last unread Dickens novel, I suggested we read it after some of us had enjoyed Martin Chuzzlewit earlier in the year. I drew up the schedule (about 60pp a week) & started with the best intentions. Well, you know what they say about good intentions! Two weeks in & I’m already half way through. I’m loving it. How could I ever have thought this book would be boring & stodgy? It’s the title. Barnaby Rudge  sounds very dull, reminds me of stodge & grunge. It’s true that titles have a great influence on whether or not we pick up a book. Anyway, I’m racing through Barnaby, probably because I know nothing about the plot so I’m eager to know what happens next. Stopping at the end of an instalment just wasn’t going to happen.

The first half is very melodramatic – two unsolved murders, a woman tormented by a figure from her past, star-crossed lovers, one Catholic & one Protestant, a young man running off to join the Army & Grip the raven, my favourite character. Grip was based on a pet raven that Dickens owned & he’s wonderful. I’m sure he’s taking notice of everything that goes on & will have a key role to play at the end. We’re just getting in to the political part of the plot now with the Gordon anti-Catholic riots on the horizon.

So, I haven’t finished a book this week & instead of a review, I thought I’d share a few recent purchases (I don’t know how these books appear on the doorstep. They just creep in, one or two at a time…) & some reprints to look forward to over the next few months.

I already have a copy of E M Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady. It’s one of my favourite books & I always remember laughing all the way through the first time I read it. I couldn’t resist this remaindered copy with the Cath Kidston cover & an Introduction by Jilly Cooper.

I got my tax refund a couple of weeks ago so I treated myself to the first two volumes of Agnes & Elizabeth Strickland’s Lives of the Queens of England. I’ve always wanted to read these & Cambridge University Press have brought them back into print as part of their POD Cambridge Library Collection. They’re not cheap but they’re substantial books (over 600pp each) & these two volumes from Matilda of Flanders to Anne Boleyn are the lives I’ve always wanted to read.

Then, a book I preordered some time ago arrived, Vintage Cakes by Jane Brocket. I love baking cakes & this book is lovely. Vintage recipes with gorgeous retro photography. I can’t wait to sit down with a cup of tea & plan which cake, slice or biscuit to try first.

I love preordering books. Virago are reprinting Angela Thirkell & Rumer Godden over the next few months & I’ve ordered the two Thirkell titles, High Rising & Wild Strawberries (aren’t they the most gorgeous covers?)

as well as three of the Goddens, In This House of Brede (my favourite of her books. Even though I already own a copy, I couldn’t resist this cover), Black Narcissus (more nuns, I’m fascinated by them) & China Court (have to read this after reading Leaves & Pages’ review of A Fugue in Time here. I have Fugue on the tbr shelves so should really read it before China Court arrives). More beautiful cover art. How wonderful to have Rumer Godden back in print. I’ve only read a couple of Thirkells but I know her Barsetshire series is much loved, by The Captive Reader among others. Lots to look forward to.

15 thoughts on “On not sticking to a schedule

  1. I'm delighted to read that Virago is reprinting some Angela Thirkell books, and in such lovely covers. I read and then gave away a lot of my Thirkells before I realized that they are among the rare books that I will probably read again. The new ones will be great replacements.


  2. Thanks for the info about the Thirkell reprints.It was actually Joan Kyler who got me into reading, isn't the internet wonderful! I love Rumer Godden too, especially In This House of Brede.


  3. Hopefully if these reprints are a success, they'll go on reprinting as they did with Barbara Pym. Virago seem to reproint some authors in a lump like Godden & Du Maurier & others a few at a time. It's good to see another middlebrow author on the way back.


  4. Well, that's serendipity indeed, Katrina! Have you ever seen the 1970s TV movie of ITHOB? RG didn't like it at all but I think it's beautifully done. Diana Rigg is Phillippa & Pamela Brown is Dame Agnes.


  5. The book is so much better than the film don't you think? I have just read ITHOB and absolutely loved it. China Court is on my list too so I'm thrilled to hear of new editions especially ones with lovely covers. I love the wintry cover of High Rising. I'm afraid I often judge a book by its cover.


  6. “her Barsetshire series is much loved” by me too, Lyn. Have every one of them, have read them in order several times, and collect the hard backs with dust jackets by John O'Hara Cosgrave.



  7. It's been a long time since I read ITHOB but I enjoyed them both. The book is a much deeper experience & some of the themes were simplified for the film but that nearly always happens. I'm looking forward to rereading it & the other two will be new to me although I've recently seen the film of BN. I always judge books by their covers which is why I often end up with multiple copies of my favourites!


  8. Oh dear I feel a spending spree coming on – just when I was going to be good!
    I already knew about the reprinted Rumer Godden novels and plan on buying all that I haven't got – just got The River which is a gorgeous hardback – but I didn't know about Angela Thirkell!
    I have a very assorted collection of her books that I have been buying up in charity shops (on the strength of recommendations from people whose taste I trust) but I have a long way to go and those new covers are just gorgeous!
    Hope I like her now!


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