Sensational September… And A Sensational Season?

So though we are actually nine days into September now I am finally launching ‘Sensational September’ (apologies for the lateness being abroad and the Man Booker read-a-thon pushed things back a bit) a theme for the blog that I came up with a while ago. Now if you are thinking “what on earth is Simon on about” then hereis the definition of a Sensation Novel. Some of these books, such as Wilkie Collins ‘The Woman in White’ and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’ as well as books that they have inspired such as Jane Harris’ ‘The Observations’ and Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman In Black’ are some of my favourite books and the late Victorian era is one of my favourite in history so how could I not love them all, and well why not try? I have been wanting to read more classics and I think these are great classics that sometimes get overlooked.

Penguin had already kindly sent me a selection of the Wilkie Collins they print and a lovely new copy of Lady Audley’s Secret, when I came back from holiday I discovered this had been delivered (well dumped by Royal Mail way before I left into the shop next door – who thankfully are very honest)…

A Promising Parcel

Inside I could see a hint of something sensational peering out at me through the paper…

A Sensational Find Inside

And then it was like all my Christmases had come at once. Thanks to the lovely people at Oxford University Press who saw my previous post and had themselves wanted to get involved in some way.

More Sensation Novels Than a Man Can Handle

And so had sent me some Wilkie Collins (Basil, The Dead Secret, Man & Wife, Poor Miss Finch, Hide & Seek) and more Mary Elizabeth Braddon (The Doctors Wife, Aurora Floyd) and what is considered the mother of all sensation novels ‘East Lynne’ by Ellen Wood.

Now that brings my total of Sensation Novels upto a total of 14 (I bought No Name myself a few weeks ago as I just couldn’t not) and thats not including some of the other fiction from the era (‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde) up until the present day (Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale) that were inspired by these novels. I hadn’t counted on just how huge the sensation novels are, most weighing in at 500-600 pages+ which will make great reading, but reading all that in a month… might be a slight push.

So I am now working on a Sensational Schedule so that should you want to join in, and I so, so, so hope you do, then you can. I am thinking of doing the big reads over weekends on Sensational Sundays very like when I tried to do the Sabidge Reads Big Weekenders, and then a smaller one midweek on Wednesday, though you can’t make a good alliteration based title out of that, ha! Mind you thats only a few weekends, maybe I should make Autumn a Sensational Season? I will pop the schedule on the blog today… I may make a new page actually! Can you tell all the excitement has thrown me?

So will you be joining in? Are you a fan of Sensation Fiction? Have you not read any but are intrigued? Which modern day books do you think have a sensational feel about them or have possibly been inspired by them? Which sensation novels should I simply not miss? All your thoughts as ever very, very welcomed! Am now off to delve back into Wilkie Collins ‘The Haunted Hotel’ which is my first read of the theme and already I am loving, and to mull over just which Sensation books to read when?


Filed under Sensation Novels

22 responses to “Sensational September… And A Sensational Season?

  1. I want to come back from my holidays to find big boxes of free books! Lucky you!

    I have tons of unread sensation books left over from my university days and keep meaning to get around to them. I have lovely Victorian copies of East Lynne and No Name sitting on my shelves and now you have given me the nudge I will join in Sensation September and get them read at last!

    • Hoorah I am thrilled you are joining in Rachel. Sadly the book parcels (well ones as big and splendid as this one) doesnt happen everytime I go away which is a shame as am off for a long weekend this weekend.

  2. Dot

    Oooh I’m looking forward to this, I am very much on a lighter reading drive at the moment but I want to join in at some point and read The Woman in White which I have been meaning to read for ages!

  3. I fear my schedule is so full this month, plus I have the kids’ book fair coming up which sucks all the time out of my days for about a week. But I really really want to read The Woman in White. It is my goal to get to it sometime in October!

  4. Simon, I am drooling over that big parcel of books! All of those Wilkie Collins titles are on my wishlist. You lucky, lucky boy and generous, generous OUP.

    I collected my copy of Lady Audley’s Secret from the library yesterday and ready to go! Well, not quite… I have to read some pesky Bookers still but I WILL read the Braddon during Sensational September. I am cheekily combining it with Carl’s RIP challenge – there’s nothing like killing two birds with the one stone!

    I am really looking forward to it. I loved The Moonstone and The Woman in White by Collins and this seemed like the logical progression, although I was of course tempted by more Collins.

    Here’s to a spine-tingling season! (do you like the alliteration?!)

    • Wilkie is one of my favourite writers and am slightly concerned my top 40 books may all be his by the end… well a quarter of them. I think Carl’s challenge and this one could make interesting partners so good luck with that I will be watching on.

      I am thinking now of extending the sensation period as I dont wanna od on them and then start not liking them. Oh it takes some planning.

      Loved the alliteration, its a fabulous feature!

  5. I look forward to reading your thoughts on some of those lovely new books. I’ll try to squeeze one sensational read into September – I have The Woman in White here, so may give that a go.

  6. Amy

    East Lynne is a great book! Glad to see it mentioned.

    Am I the only one in the world who prefers Barbara to Isabel???

  7. I did read The Somnambulist (Jonathan Barnes) a couple of weeks ago and it is absolutely a modern day sensational Victorian read. Loved it!

    I’m somewhat sad that I’ve already read many of the original sensational reads but I do want to get to East Lynne this fall if I can.

    • Oh I havent heard of that one thanks Kristen will have a gander at it and see if can fit it in or get hold of it! East Lynne is one I will definately be doing in the forthcoming weeks.

  8. Ohhhh Simon! You’re so lucky! Those books sound awesome. Anyway, I’m excited to join you. I’ve placed an order from The Book Depository last week and expecting them this week, for both The Woman in White and The Moonstone. Not sure if I can get The Moonstone done, but will surely read The Woman in White.

    Happy sensational reading!!

  9. Sensational Sundays is a great idea for the fall! Count me in. Just not able to squeeze it all in for September. I will be on the lookout for that post.

    And about that Tey question… By all means read some first. Even just one or two would enhance your enjoyment of the two Upson novels.

  10. Lucky you! I’d love to come back from holiday to that. It would numb the pain of going back to work.

    I’ll probably try joining in with a couple of books. After all, who can resist sensationalism?

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