The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 12 December, 2021.

I am delighted as this just the book I wanted to read next! It was one of my 20 books of Summer, but I didn’t get round to reading it then.

It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction the reader must decide for themselves. (Goodreads)

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Classics Club Spin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin.

I have just 2 books left on my Classics Club list, so I’ve started to compile a new list. and have added 18 of these to make up my Spin List. Tomorrow the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 12 December, 2021.

Here’s my list:

The first two are the ones left to read on my old list

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge
  4. Out of Africa by Karen Blixen
  5. Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton
  6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  7. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  8. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  9. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  10. Daisy Miller by Henry James
  11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  12. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
  13. How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  14. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence
  15. 1984 by George Orwell
  16. Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon
  17. Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon
  18. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
  19. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Wentworth
  20. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I suppose I really should just read the first two books but I really fancy reading one of the books from my new list. And a little bit of what you fancy does you good according to the English music hall song. What do think?

Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

Framley Parsonage is my current Classics Club spin book. Although I read my previous spin book, Little Dorrit , I didn’t write a post about it. So, I decided to make an early start with Framley Parsonage to make sure I finished it before the 22nd August deadline – which I did!

Synopsis – Goodreads

A brilliant depiction of social climbing and scandal, Framley Parsonage tells the story of Mark Robarts, a young clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he makes a financial deal with the disreputable local Member of Parliament, but is instead brought to the brink of shame and ruin.

One of Trollope’s most enduringly popular novels, Framley Parsonage is an evocative portrayal of country life in nineteenth-century England, told with great compassion, humour and an acute insight into human nature. 

It is the fourth book in Anthony Trollope’s series, the Chronicles of Barsetshire, first published in serial form in the Cornhill Magazine in 1860, then in book form in 1861.

This is a long book – 688 pages in the Penguin classics edition – and begins slowly. It took me a while to settle into reading it and to sort out who all the characters are and how they relate to each other, There are several plot lines – there’s the clergyman Mark Robarts, the Vicar of Framley, and his attempts to climb up the church hierarchy. Mark through naivety, is bamboozled by Nathaniel Sowerby, a member of parliament. He guarantees a three-month bill of Sowerby’s for £400 (making Mark liable if Sowerby does not pay a £400 debt within that time) and then a further bill for £500. This does not go well for Mark!

Another plot line is that relating to Mark’s sister, Lucy and her on/off romance with Lord Lufton, much to the disapproval of his mother, Lady Lufton. Mark and Lord Lufton were childhood friends and Lady Lufton is Mark’s patroness, which causes problems all round, especially as she would much prefer her son to marry Griselda Grantley, the daughter of Doctor Theophilus Grantly, the Archdeacon of Barchester. There’s also a subplot involving Mrs Grantly and Mrs Proudie, Bishop Proudie’s wife, and their rivalry over their daughters’ marriages. There’s another marriage in the offing, that of the outspoken heiress, Martha Dunstable, to Doctor Thorne, the eponymous hero of the preceding novel in the series, Doctor Thorne.

Framley Parsonage is full of lifelike and interesting characters engaged in their everyday life and inevitable class inequalities and power struggles, described with a fair amount of wit and humour. Interspersed between the plotlines Trollope introduces several sections of political commentary on the Parliamentary shenanigans of the day, which I have to admit were less interesting to me. But it seems that not much has changed in the way the political parties carried on both in parliament and in their relationship with the press. The next book in the series is The Small House at Arlington, which I expect I’ll eventually get round to reading.

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

6

which for me is Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 22 August, 2021.

This book has been on my Classics Club list for a long time. It’s the fourth novel in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series, first published in 1860. I’ve read the earlier books, so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Mark Robarts is a clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he agrees to guarantee a bill for a large sum of money for the disreputable local Member of Parliament, while being helped in his career in the Church by the same hand. But the unscrupulous politician reneges on his financial obligations, and Mark must face the consequences this debt may bring to his family.

(Description from Amazon)

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Classics Club Spin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin. I only have 3 books left to read and although I did read my last Spin book, Little Dorrit I still haven’t written about it. For this spin I shall read one of these three books by 22 August 2021:

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  6. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop
  7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  8. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  9. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop
  10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  11. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop
  13. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  14. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  15. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
  16. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  17. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  18. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
  19. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  20. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Railway Children by E Nesbit: a Short Review

I have got behind with writing about the books I’ve read, so this is short review as I try to ‘catch up’:

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. It was originally serialised in The London Magazine during 1905 and first published in book form in 1906. It’s ‘a feel good’ book about a family living in a world long gone – 1905 to be precise.

Three young children, Roberta, known as ‘Bobbie’ (12), Peter (10), and Phyllis (8) move from London to ‘The Three Chimneys’, a much smaller house in the countryside near a railway line, with their mother. Their father had mysteriously left their home in the company of two men one evening. The children don’t know where he has gone or why. Their lives are drastically changed as without their father’s income, their mother is now busy writing to earn money.

The children have lots of adventures as they explore the countryside and especially the railway line and station. They make friends with the railway staff and in particular with one of the railway passengers, who they call the ‘Old Gentleman’. They prevent a train disaster, rescue a schoolboy, who has broken his leg and is stranded in a railway tunnel, and help a Russian refugee, who is trying to find his family. But the mystery surrounding their father continues to worry the children, especially Bobbie. Thankfully there is a happy ending!

I enjoyed The Railway Children but would have loved it if I’d read it when I was a child. There’s an emphasis on friendship and on helping others in the right way, that is on the importance of giving that is not perceived as charity, for instance, to avoid wounding the pride and self respect of others. Throughout I was surprised by the amount of freedom and independence the children enjoyed and the dangers they were exposed to including walking on the railway lines!

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 31 May, 2021.

Little Dorrit is a classic tale of imprisonment, both literal and metaphorical, while Dickens’ working title for the novel, Nobody’s Fault, highlights its concern with personal responsibility in private and public life. Dickens’ childhood experiences inform the vivid scenes in Marshalsea debtor’s prison, while his adult perceptions of governmental failures shape his satirical picture of the Circumlocution Office. The novel’s range of characters – the honest, the crooked, the selfish and the self-denying – offers a portrait of society about whose values Dickens had profound doubts.

Little Dorrit is indisputably one of Dickens’ finest works, written at the height of his powers. George Bernard Shaw called it ‘a masterpiece among masterpieces’, a verdict shared by the novel’s many admirers. (Description from Amazon)

I have started this a few times before, but found the small print in my paperback copy too off putting. I’ll be reading the e-book this time.

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Classics Club Spin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin. Before next Sunday 18th April, 2021, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period. On Sunday 18th April the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 31st May, 2021.

I have just 5 books left on my list, so I’ve repeated the list four times:

  1. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  3. Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford
  4. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop
  6. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  8. Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford
  9. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  10. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop
  11. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  12. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  13. Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford
  14. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  15. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop
  16. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  17. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  18. Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford
  19. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  20. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollop

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Orlando: a Biography has been on my TBR shelves for nearly five years now, so I was glad it came up in the Classics Club spin as this gave me the push to actually read it. I won Orlando in one of Heaven Ali’s Woolfalong giveaways in May 2016 and I’m sorry that I haven’t read it before now. I did start it when I first got it, but found it a bit ‘difficult to get into it’ and left it on my bookshelves for while – the while turned out to be nearly five years!

I’ve read some of Virginia Woolf’s books before – Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, Kew Gardens (a short story), Flush: a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, A Room of One’s Own and The Three Guineas (in one volume and more recently, I’ve read The Voyage Out, and Death of a Moth and other essays.

Synopsis:

Orlando tells the tale of an extraordinary individual who lives through centuries of English history, first as a man, then as a woman; of his/her encounters with queens, kings, novelists, playwrights, and poets, and of his/her struggle to find fame and immortality not through actions, but through the written word. At its heart are the life and works of Woolf’s friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West, and Knole, the historic home of the Sackvilles. But as well as being a love letter to Vita, Orlando mocks the conventions of biography and history, teases the pretensions of contemporary men of letters, and wryly examines sexual double standards.

My thoughts:

Orlando is a fictionalised biography of Vita Sackville-West, based on her life. They had met in 1922 when Woolf was 40 and Vita was 30, when Wolf described her as ‘lovely’ and ‘aristocratic’. I was a bit overwhelmed at times reading Orlando – such a fantastical novel, spanning 500 years. There are copious literary, historical, and personal allusions and despite continually referring to the Explanatory Notes at the end of the book I’m sure I missed a lot of them. And it makes for a fragmentary reading experience, having to stop reading and flip backwards and forwards between the text and the notes, so that I was a bit confused about the story and what happened when.

But having said that the plot is extraordinary, beginning towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign when Orlando is a young nobleman, and continuing for the next five hundred years to the start of the twentieth century. You have to completely suspend your disbelief, not just for the length of his life, but also for his/her gender as in the late 17th century whilst he is an ambassador for Charles II he falls into a trance for seven days, only to find when he comes to that ‘he’ has become a young woman. As a woman she lives with a group of Turkish gypsies and then returns to England in the 18th century, when she has difficulty in being identified as a woman. In the 19th century she falls in love with a young romantic traveller, finally finding freedom in finishing the poem she began in the 16th century and in experiencing the delights of motoring in the early years of the 20th century.

What I’ve described here is just the bare bones of the book, because there are many vivid passages – such as her description of the ‘Great Frost’ of 1608, when the Thames was frozen for six weeks and Frost Fairs were held on the ice. It hit the country people the hardest:

But while the country people suffered the extremity of want, and the trade of the country was at a stand still, London enjoyed a carnival of the utmost brilliance. The Court was at Greenwich, and the new King seized the opportunity that his coronation gave him to curry favour with the citizens. He directed that the river, which was frozen to a depth of twenty feet and more for six or seven miles on either side should be swept, decorated and given all the semblance of a park or pleasure ground with arbours, mazes, alleys, drinking booths, etc at his expense. For himself and his courtiers, he reserved a certain space immediately opposite the Palace gates; which railed off from the public only by a silken rope, became at once the centre of the most brilliant society in England. (pages 22-23)

She also writes about writing and about books, about the nature of gender, and about the position of women in society over the centuries. One theme that fascinates me is her depiction of the passage of time, particularly in the final section of the book set as the 20th century reached 1928 (the year Orlando was published). Overall it is a book steeped in history showing how the passage of time had changed both the landscape and climate of England along with its society – and I have only scratched the surface in this post. It is a book packed with detail that deserves to be read more than once to appreciate it fully.

  • Publisher : OUP Oxford; 2nd edition (11 Dec. 2014)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 019965073X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0199650736

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Orlando by Virginia Woolf. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 30 January, 2021.

Orlando tells the tale of an extraordinary individual who lives through centuries of English history, first as a man, then as a woman; of his/her encounters with queens, kings, novelists, playwrights, and poets, and of his/her struggle to find fame and immortality not through actions, but through the written word. At its heart are the life and works of Woolf’s friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West, and Knole, the historic home of the Sackvilles. But as well as being a love letter to Vita, Orlando mocks the conventions of biography and history, teases the pretensions of contemporary men of letters, and wryly examines sexual double standards.

I hope I get on better with this book than I did with my last Classics Club Spin book, which was Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I did start reading it, but didn’t get very far – it wasn’t appealing to me at all!

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?