Last Month’s Reading and Next Month’s Reading

I found a lot of books to love in October.


I loved both of the books I read for Margaret Kennedy Reading Week – The Wild Swan and A Night in Cold Harbour.

‘The Provincial Lady Goes Further’ by E M Delafield was exactly the right book to ‘change gears’ after a week absorbed in one author.

I read the opening chapter of The Adventurous Lady by J C Snaith a while ago, I meant to go back and finish it, and this month I did. The story didn’t quite live up to the lovely set-up, but it was readable, it was entertaining and it fills a year in my poor neglected century.

I’ve pondered shifting the century, giving up on the century – I’ve done it before so I know I can do it – but in the end I decided that my reasons for starting out were still good, but I needed more tie for digressions and to read some of those very big Victorian novels I’ve always meant to read. And so my century is open ended – no more deadlines – It’ll be done when it’s done.

Anthony Trollope has been one of those digressions – I only allow one book per author in the century but I’ve read three of his and I plan to read more. I found much to love in The Eustace Diamonds but it isn’t my favourite, and so I decided to have a little break with another Victorian before I go back to ‘Phineas Redux’, ‘The Prime Minister’, ‘The Duke’s Children’ ….

I turned to Charles Dickens and ‘Bleak House.’ The change of style was a shock – Dickens paints pictures where Trollope introduces people – but Dickens did what he did so well in this book that I was very soon absorbed and involved. And I will be for quite soe tie, because it’s one of those big Victorian novels I mentioned a few paragraphs ago.

That’s my audiobook of the moment.

My traditional book of the moment is ‘The Shuttle’ by Frances Hodgson-Burnett. It’s lovely, the grown-up equivilant of her children’s books, and I don’t want it to be over but I think I may finish it tonight.

Frances Vernon is my best discovery of the month, Privileged Children will be one of my books of the year, and I already have her next book lined up and ready to go.

I’ve read just two recent books. I had mixed feelings about  ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters, but I loved a book that slipped out much more quietly –  The Girl Who Couldn’t Read by John Harding.

And that was October!


In November I want to finish all of the books I have in progress.

That includes ‘Folle-Farine’ by Ouida. I hadn’t meant to start reading but I had to because I was captivated by a lovely story wrapped up in pages and pages of description.

I have a copy of ‘The Hotel’ by Elizabeth Bowen lined up for a readalong. I’ve been meaning to read her fiction in order – reading some for the first time and re-reading others – and so this was a very well-timed push in the right direction.

And I have a few books in mind for Australian Reading Month. ‘My Career Goes Bung’ by Miles Franklin and ‘The Three Miss Kings’ by Ada Cambridge are possibilities from the Virago bookcase. And I have ‘The Idea of Perfection’ by Kate Grenville, which was highly recommended by last year’s Virago Secret Santa.

The year’s Virago Secret Santa is underway, so my only book-shopping between now and Christmas will be for other people.

And that’s not a bad thing, because I want to read more of the books I have already, I want to read the books that call.

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

24 responses

  1. A lovely variety of books there Jane. I read Bleak House in the 1980s and remember being completely absorbed by it and totally blown away too – one of Dickens’ best. I’m trying not to plan for November – although I shall try to read something German for German Literature Month!

  2. Very, very disappointingly I only finished one book in October. I had good intentions to join in the Margaret Kennedy Reading Week, but didn’t read one jot while in London. I do want to read her soon, though. I hope November is better for me – I also plan to read ‘The Hotel’. Will you be writing about ‘The Paying Guests’? I’d like to see what you thought as I have that one on the TBR too.

  3. A great selection of books. After seeing your posts on Reading the Twentieth Century I decided to start this challenge myself. I haven’t set myself any deadlines and I have allowed myself to include an author more than once. I have found it less pressure and I just fit books in when I can. I find this approach relaxing, especially when I have other challenges I want to complete by certain dates.

  4. I am currently dithering over The Paying Guests. I know our book club wants to read some of her work. I was not as ‘scared’ with The Little Stranger but thoroughly enjoyed The Night Watch.

  5. Bleak House is one of my faves by Dickens ……as you say it’s not one you can race through ! I am reading at least one thing for GERMAN Lit month but other than that I’m trying to take the pressure off my reading and get back to enjoying it !!!!

    • I’ve discovered that reading a longer Victorian work slowly and steading, and balancing it with shorter 20th century books works very well for me. A couple of thee 20th century books I have lined up are German, and I’m going to try to read at least one of them this month, but I don’t want the pressure of making it definite.

  6. Great selection of books, Fleur. Will you be blogging The Paying Guests, as I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it? I’ve seen/heard a mix of views so far. I’m planning to read a few books for German Lit Month and I have a bit of a review backlog so I’ll be playing catch-up in November.

    • I’m trying to pull together my thoughts about The Paying Guests, but it’s proving tricky to explain why they were mixed without saying too much about the book. I’ll get there soon. And I hope to read something German, but I’m not sure what or if I’ll get to it in time.

  7. I completely agree..October was a great reading month…read some really good stuff, and some not so nice!! I LOVE Bleak House…my all time most worshipped Dickens; I know its one fat book, but I love wallowing in it!! Do tell me about “The Hotel”…its been in my TBR for sometime!!

  8. So many excellent books and if I didn’t have some plans of my own I would beg to join in with your Bowen read-along! I am LOVING The Rich House and then up next is my chunky read for November, East Lynne by Ellen Wood. PS-We had snow today…

    • I’ve been thinking of East Lynne – I loved it but it was so long ago that I barely remember it. You could sway me towards a re-read,

      The Elizabeth Bowen read-along is in her Facebook group, where you will find some lovely people, should you ever want to seek out more of her devotees.

  9. An excellent October! I’m halfway through The Paying Guests (like it but don’t love it yet) and have also started on The Hotel by Elizabeth Bowen. Looking forward to November already…

  10. My Century of Reading is open-ended, too, because I didn’t want to get all hung up on filling in gaps and buying books i wouldn’t normally have bought, so I’m doing it “naturally”, although I have to admit to downloading and picking up some early ones where there aren’t many appealing ones in a year! Only finished 6 books last month and I’m doing NaNoWriMo to get my research project written up, but I’m hoping to get through more this month, especially as I’m fitting in my reading time around my husband’s new work schedule.

    Enjoy the Miles Franklin – it’s too long since I read those two! I’ll be joining in the Bowen read if I possibly can, although I may have to borrow Ali’s copy!

  11. I loved Bleak House but it definitely needs concentration and time to really enjoy it. Look forward to your thoughts on The Paying Guests – I was a little disappointed but my expectations were no doubt too high.

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