Saturday 6 June 2015

A Victorian Celebration

A couple of years back Allie hosted the first Victorian Celebration event; a couple of months over the summer dedicated to reading a lot of Victorian literature, and this year she has brought it back! I'm excited because despite being a very good little Classics Clubber back when I first started I've totally slipped with it recently and I need some encouragement to get back into the Classics. As you will see the lack of reading them is not for lack of availability!

Because I'm me and I really enjoy making piles of books that annoy the hell out of my husband (sorry Rhys) I decided to pull out one book from each author that I own on Allie's list and make a big pile of potentials. I didn't pull out any stuff I don't feel inspired to read so actually this pile is entirely made up of actual possibility as opposed to usually when I make ridiculously ambitious piles or lists full of books I don't really want to read. Anyway! I have no idea where to start, except possibly with a Bronte and possibly The Professor primarily because I won it during the last Victorian Celebration which means it's been sitting unread on my shelf longer than anything by any of the Bronte's has any right to!

If you have strong feelings about any of the books in my pile please let me know! I'll probably only have time to read one or two but as usual I like to give myself options. Here's what I've got:

  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte - I started this a while ago and was really into it but then I misplaced it and by the time it turned up again I'd forgotten what it was about. It's little though and might be a good starting place.
  • Ditto for The Professor by Charlotte Bronte which I've also started and got distracted from right about the same time I was losing Agnes Grey. One of these two it likely to be my first read because I know I love the Brontes so there will be no putting off there. 
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell I feel like I've at least read some of before, but I have no recollection and maybe we just talked about it a lot when I read Cranford? I don't know, but I enjoy Gaskell's writing as a general rule so I think it's probably worth finding out if I have actually read it already or not!
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot. This is the only book on this pile which makes me sigh. I nearly didn't even pull it out because it's been on my shelf longer than almost anything else and I struggled with Adam Bede and Silas Marner during school but I read the blurb and I feel like I should at least give it a go. It does sound intriguing and like the protagonist could potentially be really cool. 
  • Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe. I love this edition, isn't it gorgeous? This has also been on my shelf for aaaaages and I feel like I might dip in and out of it during the event. Maybe.
  • The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett I bought during our recent trip to the Persephone bookshop pretty much based on my love of The Secret Garden. That said my current reading of the other Persephone book that I bought while there is making me think that Persephone books are probably worth reading regardless of whether you know the author or not. 
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. So I know several people will be shouting at me to read this (Ellie Lit Nerd I'm looking at you) because it's Wilkie and I did love The Woman in White when I read it all those millennia ago, so I might. I might.
  • The last two don't probably count because they were both published after Victoria died although both the authors also count as Victorian authors but E. Nesbit's Fairy Stories wasn't published until 1977 according to the internet and my edition, but obviously must have been written a long time before as she died in 1924. Phantasies by George MacDonald was published just after, in 1905, and I'm very intrigued by it so I might try to slip it in somewhere under the guise of Fairytale Friday!
So there we go, an exciting pile. If you want to sign up to join in the Victorian fun you can do so at Allie's blog


  1. Ooh, I might have to join this! Victorian lit is my jam.

    Don't fear Middlemarch- it's long, yes, but it's wonderful! I've been thinking of rereading it soon actually.

    I can also wholeheartedly recommend the Poe and The Moonstone. Come on, it's Wilkie Collins, what more do you need? ;)

    1. Thanks Gemma that really helps! I really want to read Middlemarch, maybe I'll just dive in...

  2. The Moonstone! Bex, you have to read The Moonstone! Honestly, it's so, so good. I'm planning on reading The Woman in White later this year and trying to host a read-along if work settles down a bit during September but I can't see how it can be as good as The Moonstone.

    Although you're right in that you can't go wrong with a Bronte. I have a Penguin English Library copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and I'm so excited about that. I'm also thinking that I want to re-read Wuthering Heights because it was YEARS ago that I read it and I remember liking it but I don't really remember anything about it.

    1. Oh read Tenant,so good and hilarious! I might have to read The Moonstone,so many people love it,and I'd definitely be up for rereading The Woman in White if you do a read along,if only to get the musical out of my head!

  3. First, North and South is WONDERFUL, a close second to Wives & Daughters. Also, Middlemarch -- the first 100 pages were a little dry, but it's really worth sticking with! The rest of it is so good. I had terrible fear of George Eliot after reading The Mill on the Floss in High School. I'm so glad I gave her a second chance. I may even try MotF again someday.

  4. I... didn't like The Professor. I DNF-ed it, it was so dull. My edition also had a lot of untranslated French conversations, so maybe I would have enjoyed it more had I not completely blanked on swathes of the text. BUT to counter the negativity, The Moonstone and North and South are both AMAZING, so... yeah, those would be my recommendations! :)

  5. Wonderful stack you have there! I've read and recommend them all. I was most underwhelmed by The Making of a lacked the charm of Burnett's children's books for me. Nesbit's fairy stories were originally published in magazines and some may have been before 1900, although she's really an Edwardian author. Phantastes was published in 1858 so it definitely counts. I'll look forward to seeing what you pick.