There has been reading, there will be reading ….

…. but for one reason or another there wasn’t as much reading as usual in August, and for those very same reasons I read books that didn’t make too many demands.


I read just two books for All Very Virago All August.

The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson was an intriguing tale of one girl’s experiences at boarding school a century ago. It left me wanting to now more about the author, and wanting to read more of her work.

‘A Wreath for the Enemy’ was my second novel by  Pamela Frankau  – after The Willow Cabin, which I read for All Very Virago All August – and it confirmed to me that she is very, very good, and that she really should be back in print.

I had to put the first volume of Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson to one side. I was loving it, it just wasn’t the right time for me to give a book so special the time and thought it deserves.

But I think that almost everything I read was in the spirit of Virago.


WITmonth3 + text1I was inspired by Women in Translation Month, and I have come away with a long list of books to read in the future.

I wrote about The People in the Photo by Helene Gestern: a wonderful human story told in letters, emails and texts.

And I fell utterly in love with Valentine and with George Sand’s writing.


I’ve read a lot of crime fiction, more than I have for a long time.

I revisited two crime series with wonderful female protagonists.

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes was the best crime novel I have read for quite some time, and will definitely be on my year-end list.

‘The Stranger You Know’ was Jane Casey’s best book to date, and I already have the next book in the series lined up.

I started a new series with Strangled Prose by Joan Hess.

And now I’m catching up with Deborah Crombie.


I’ve spent a lot of time in the past:

The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman was a wonderfully colourful story, set in 1799, about women who fought in the ring and out of the ring for their place in the world.

Mona and True Love’s Reward by Mrs Georgie Sheldon were both lovely: utterly readable 19th century intrigue and romance.

After that it felt natural to stay on that century a while longer, with The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume.

And that was August.


lavinia-portraitRIP92751September brings RIP IX. Two months of reading the mysterious, the suspenseful, the gothic, the ghostly …..

I’m not sure exactly what I’ll read, but I have a lovely pool of books on hand :

The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland
Come Back Lucy by Pamela Sykes
The House by the Churchyard by Sheridan Le Fanu
Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
The Collegians by Gerard Griffin
The Mesmerist by Barbara Ewing
He Arrived at Dusk by Ruby Ferguson
Ghosts and Family Legends by Catherine Crowe
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Two-Thirds of a Ghost by Helen McCloy
The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle
A String of Pearls by Thomas Peskett Prest
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
The Dead Letter by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor
The Quick by Lauren Owen
Herring Girl by Debbie Taylor
Lyonesse Abbey by Jill Tattersall
The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

You’ll see one of my books for Mary Stewart Reading Week  in there, but not the other.


I have newly reissued novels by Edith Olivier, a new novel by Esther Freud, and no lack of other books I should love to read.

But nothing is set in stone: the important thing is to read the books that call.

What books are calling you? What are your reading plans?

25 responses

  1. I always love seeing what you’ve read! I only read two books in August as my reading funk continues. I look forward to reading Mary Stewart (for sure) this month, the new Sarah Waters, the new Tana French, and My Cousin Rachel – that is if my reading funk lifts. Enjoy your September!

    • There are quite a few lesser known titles that I came across when I was looking for my books for my century. I seem to recall that you mentioned The Dead Letter? I’m not sure how many I’ll get to, but I’ll do my best!

  2. I wasn’t aware of the RIP IX event, but I’ll see if I can dig out something gothic or ghostly to read in October (perhaps to tie in with Halloween). Enjoy your September reading!

  3. That’s a great list of RIP books. You’ve reminded me that I have a copy of The Vanishing Witch to read as well, though I didn’t think to put it on my own list. And I loved Cashelmara! I must find time to re-read it at some point.

    • I loved Cashelmara when I read it years ago, and I loved rereading Penmarric last year so my hopes are high. And I’m hoping The Vanishing Witch will be a return to form after Karen Maitland’s last book, which I didn’t think was her best.

  4. The books that call. What a wonderful thought! I have some classics and more ‘serious’ reading calling to me — must be that back-to-school feeling — but I’m in a lighthearted transition for another day or so. Looking forward to R.I.P., too!

  5. I must get started on Kate Rhodes novels soon, I bought the first one a while ago and remember your great review of that one too. I’ve had The Mesmerist to read for years, could be one to try soon. Hope you have a good month in September.

    • I think you’re going to love Kate Rhodes, and I must confess that my copy of the Mesmerist has been waiting for a long time too. Silly, because I’ve always enjoyed Barbara Ewing’s books. I wish you a great September too!

  6. I am making a list of my own after all your suggestions, thanks everyone.
    Two things:
    Henry Handel Richardson is my top Australian writer, I love her work. The one you read is based partly where I live, in Maldon. Her handsome minister Stretch is a story in his own right. My favourite HHR is The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, her 3 volume novel based on her father’s life as a doctor in nineteenth century Victoria. It actually tells the story of her mother very movingly.
    Secondly, Burial Rites! Be prepared for a novel which has been on the bestseller list in Oz for months, and is up for filming. Set in Iceland, it is fantastic reading, beautifully written and very interesting.

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