Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Century of Books: Four Virago Modern Classics

Here we are at February! This is my first post for A Century of Books, hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book and Claire at The Captive Reader.

I'm sharing my thoughts on four Virago Modern Classics that have been in my TBR for quite some time:

Winter Sonata by Dorothy Edwards (1928) is a lovely, subtle novel. Much of the story takes place over the winter season in an English village. The main characters are sisters Eleanor and Olivia who live with their aunt and their cousin, George. A young man, Mr. Nettle, moves to town and is the new telegraph clerk. Although he is painfully shy, he becomes friends with the family. The writing in Winter Sonata is lovely, especially the descriptions of the snowy winter and the ways in which the weather affects the characters. I highly recommend this novel.  

Thank Heaven Fasting by E.M. Delafield (1932) is the bittersweet story of Monica Ingram, only daughter of an affluent family, who experiences many trials and tribulations as she becomes a debutante and searches for a husband. I loved the writing, and Delafield created a powerful story surrounding the expectations and rules that young women had to navigate in society. 

I like reading about the experiences of women during World War I, so Not So Quiet by Evadne Price under the pseudonym of Helen Zenna Smith (1930) was right up my alley. The novel, written as a response to All Quiet on the Western Front, is based on the diary of World War I ambulance driver Winifred Young. Not So Quiet tells the story of Helen Smith, also an ambulance driver, working under the worst of conditions--long shifts, little sleep, overbearing senior officers, inedible food, lice, hazardous driving conditions in a blizzard, and the list goes on. The novel highlights the brutality and futility of war as opposed to the more romantic view of war that Smith's family and many people in England had during World War I. Not So Quiet was a real page turner.

A Wreath for the Enemy by Pamela Frankau (1954) tells the story of Penelope Wells, living in her poet father's bohemian hotel. One summer, the teenage Penelope meets the Bradley children, and becomes involved in their lives. The story is told from various points of view. While I loved the first third of the book that took place at the hotel on the French Riviera, the rest of the book when the children are adults was not so captivating to me. I would like to read more of Frankau's work, though.

I hope that you had a great month of reading in January! What are you reading this week?


  1. All these sound wonderful! Especially Winter Sonata.

  2. I love all the covers of these classics Monica; thanks for sharing with us.