Firstly sorry for such a late blog, it seems I have some kind of evil food poisoning and have been up half the night and then finally getting to sleep about 7am so have not long got up. Well I say got up, I think today is going to be a day in bed with books to be honest, I can’t really see me going anywhere. Anyway for quite a while now I have been hinting to you all that I am doing a themed month in September. Apart from obviously devouring the Man Booker long list over the last few weeks and will continue to in the following weeks, I haven’t really done a themed blog or themed month on the blog so I thought that it was time for a change.
What is the theme? Well I have decided to make September ‘Sensation September’ yes I am going to be reading the fabulous sensation novels of the late 1800’s for a whole month. Now for those of you who might be thinking ‘what the heck is a sensation novel?’ this should sum it up…
“Typically the sensation novel focused on shocking subject matter including adultery, theft, kidnapping, insanity, bigamy, forgery, seduction and murder. It distinguished itself from other contemporary genres, including the Gothic novel, by setting these themes in ordinary, familiar and often domestic settings, thereby undermining the common Victorian-era assumption that sensational events were something foreign and divorced from comfortable middle-class life. When sensation novels burst upon a quiescent England these novels became immediate best sellers, surpassing all previous book sales records. However, high brow critics writing in academic journals of the day decried the phenomenon and criticized its practitioners (and readers) in the harshest terms. The added noriety derived from reading the novels probably served only to contribute to their popularity.”
The lovely people at Penguin have sent me all the Wilkie Collins that they publish (see above) which include “The Haunted Hotel”, “The Moonstone”, “Armadale”, “The Law and the Lady” and “The Woman in White” the latter of which is one of my favourite all time books. Plus for some reason not pictured one of my favourite novels ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’ by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. If that wasn’t enough the lovely people at Oxford University Press are sending me another ten or so which I will report back on but include the mother of all sensation novels ‘East Lynne’ by Ellen Wood. I am really excited about these as its perfect for when the nights start to draw in and you want to curl up with a good book.
I also thought it would be nice to mix these up with books that have been inspired by the sensation novel. Or in the case of Kate Summerscale’s non-fiction marvel ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ a book about the murder case that started all of the sensation novels off. In terms of modern books that are based around sensation novels I am thinking of ‘The Observations’ by Jane Harris, ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters and a few more.
Who has already dabbled in the sensation novel, if so which ones have you read and which ones did you enjoy? Who has never heard of the sensation novel and is now looking forward to some high Victorian melodrama? So who is up for joining me in a sensational read-a-long?