Tag Archives: Mary S Hartman

Vicariously Through The Victorians…

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I really do love the autumn, especially for reading. I have been going through my TBR pile on and off over the last week and with certain worrying matters going on off the blog I have been looking for thrilling yet comforting books which will keep me reading. I tend to get readers block when lots of things are going on, I am sure this happens to all of us, and so these reads should combat this. However my version of thrilling yet comforting might not be the same as yours, as mine tend to involve the foggy, mysterious and dark streets of Victorian London, as the hoard I pulled down shows.

Now because I was being all arty-farty by having them on my ever-so suitable Victorian reading chair in the lounge you might not be able to make them all out. Well, it is quite a mixture. First up we have the fiction from the time in the form of ‘The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which I think sums up Victorian London at that time wonderfully, along with ‘The Odd Women’ by George Gissing which I have to admit I really bought (ages ago) because of the title, it just sounds quite me. I am also planning, through my new venture ‘Classically Challenged’, on finally reading two of the authors that many say are the literary greats, Anthony Trollope and the Charles Dickens.

I have thrown in some non-fiction into the mix too. I really struggle with non-fiction, it has to have a narrative and drive or I just get bored. In the case of ‘Beautiful Forever’ by Helen Rappaport (which I think my mother bought me two maybe three Christmas’ ago, oops) there should be no worry at all as it is the tale of Madame Rachel of Bond Street who ‘peddled products which claimed almost magical powers’ ripped people off and blackmailed them. I cannot wait for this, why have I left it so long. The same goes for Mary S. Hartman’s ‘Victorian Murderesses’ which I found in a book swap cafe last year. I don’t tend to mention that I like true crime writing, well I do, and this one looks great. Finally, non-fiction wise, I have ‘Wilkie Collins’ by Peter Ackroyd (I should have read this in the spring) which I am hoping if isn’t a narrative based non-fiction book will hook me in because I am such a big fan of Wilkie, full stop.

Finally I have thrown in three neo-Victorian novels, interestingly all by female authors about fictional women who stood up to Victorian ethics by all accounts, ‘The Journal of Dora Damage’ by Belinda Starling, ‘Little Bones’ by Janette Jenkins and ‘Beautiful Lies’ by Clare Clark. So there is some really exciting reading to look forward to. Yet before I start all these I am going to be meeting some very special ladies who I will be asking for more recommendations from as I will be discussing Victorian books, why they are so tempting to read and to write with them on Tuesday at Manchester Literature Festival

 

Yes, Jane Harris of one-of-my-all-time-favourite-ever-novels ‘Gillespie and I’ fame, who has also rather luckily become a lovely friend and the lovely Essie Fox, who did a special Victorian episode of The Readers and has written ‘The Somnambulist’ and has ‘Elijah’s Mermaid’ coming out soon (which I have read in advance and cannot wait to tell you all about at the start of November. I will be asking them for recommendations from the period, about the period and set in the period – and reporting back of course.

Now… do you have any recommendations of books about/set in the times of/written by Victorians and if so what? Oh and if you have any questions for Jane and Essie let me know and I will ask them especially.

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A Book Exchange is No True Crime

I don’t think that the whole time I was in London I ever came across a book exchange. In fact I would sometimes go to the Southbank and wander hopefully to find one of those famous book crossing exchanges, all to no avail. I am sure there were some book exchanges somewhere I just never seemed to find them. So imagine my slight glee when I was doing some Christmas shopping a few weeks a go and had just rested my weary legs in a café and saw this sign…

Yes, a book exchange not too many miles away! Naturally I had to go and scour the shelves which were brimming and there were two titles that I instantly wanted, yet I didn’t feel without bringing two books back myself I could actually take them. So I had to go back the very next day, well how could I wait, with a few books (it was actually four) that I could leave to find lovely new homes and scooped up two books that looked a little bit different but right up my street.

‘Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French & English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes’ by Mary S Hartman possibly has the most impressively long title I have seen for quite some time and with my obsession with all things Victorian this should be a great read. More of a risk/rogue choice however is ‘A Death in Belmont’ by Sebastian Junger which is also none fiction and also based on true crimes, in this case The Boston Strangler, maybe I will be heading for lots of true crime reading in 2011?

Do you have a local book exchange? Have you ever come across a book crossing novel anywhere and which book was it? Any true crime novels I should hunt down as it now seems that I am subconsciously craving it!?!

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