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Classics Club Spin #27 Review: Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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My Interest

I love participating in the Classics Club Spins! It’s such a fun way to read through classics you might never try.

 

The Story

Impoverished gentlewoman, Emily Fox-Seton, supports herself being useful to busy ladies. She’s the Victoria equivalent of Door Dash, Stitch Fix, Amazon and more rolled into one. She does errands to keep herself barely above penury. She fears the Work House and lies awake at night fretting that genteel ladies will no longer need her to walk a hundred miles to pick up fish and save their dinner parties from the shame of no fish course!

But, being “the right sort,” only down-on-her-luck financially, she is at least in the company of people who think nothing of hosting a house party for 20 for at least a month. Sadly, the poor thing doesn’t ride–not to the hounds or just in the home park.Nonetheless, her circumstances have the advantage of putting her in the path of well-off men, some of whom are single. Now, she’s a bit past her sell-by date in Victorian terms, but still within her childbearing years albeit at an age where a husband could only likely expect about 10 children instead of 18.

After saving the above-mentioned-dinner-party, she is rescued by the Marquess of Walderhurst–an eligible, older widower with no heir. She is a lovely, quiet, sensible thing and James Walderhurst sees her potential. He has a money-grubbing distant relative as his heir presumptive, so why not take a chance on this little chit who colors so prettily when he speaks to her. Better still, his sister likes Emily, too.

My Thoughts

This was a delightful story. Could you see the plot a mile off? Of course! Was the putative “Cousin Matthew” [Downton Abbey] hatching schemes at a rate that would have made Miss O’Brien need a cuppa and a fag out back with Thomas? [Downton, again]. Oh, yes! But this story is Victorian and we know it ends on a happy note–it must, it simply had to hadn’t it? (Yes, sadly, there are racist comments about an Indian servant. Be aware.)

I listened to the excellent audio book from Persephone Books which is only $4.99 on Audible (linked)

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hogsdon-Burnett

My Verdict

4 Stars

To learn more about The Classics Club and their “Spins” read this post.

For my past Spin book reviews click the title to go to my review:

Wide Saragaso Sea

Tortilla Flat

Excellent Women

Groves of Academe

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Classics Club Spin #27 Book Will Be….

#ccspin 

Number 6 is the lucky draw!

The book I must read by August 22nd is….

Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson-Burnett

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Frances Hodgson Burnett published The Making of a Marchioness in 1901. She had written Little Lord Fauntleroy 15 years before and would write The Secret Garden in 10 years’ time; it is these two books for which she is best known. Yet Marchioness was one of Nancy Mitford’s favourite books, was considered ‘the best novel Mrs Hodgson Burnett wrote’ by Marghanita Laski, and is taught on a university course in America together with novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Daisy Miller.ness by Frances Hodgson-Burnett

I bought this on sale on audio recently, so now I”ll enjoy it on my commute some week.

You can see my entire list for this spin HERE.

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Classics Club Spin #27–REVISED

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I’m LATE for another Classics Club Spin. By tomorrow, Sunday July 18, 2021, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period. Tomorrow, Sunday July 18th, the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by August 22, 2021. #ccspin 

Note: I revised this after realizing I’d given away one book and forgot some recent Kindle purchases. She what happens when you are running late?

My List

  1. Loving Spirit by Daphne DuMaurier
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark
  3. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. A Far Country by Neville Shute
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson-Burnett
  7. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  8. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  9. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  10. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  11. The Headmistress by Angela Thirkell
  12. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  13. O, Pioneers by Willa Cather
  14. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
  15. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne DuMaurier
  16. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  17. Working by Studs Terkel
  18. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  19. Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki
  20. I, Claudius by  Robert Graves

You can see some of my former Spin Book Review posts here. The Spin Lists posts are linked within the review post:

Spin 26 Review: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Spin 25 Review: Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

Spin 24 I DNF-ed Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck so no review. *(The link is to Amazon).

Spin 23 Review: Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy

Spin 22 Review: Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

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Classics Club Spin Winner is…..#11

Lucy Number ….

  1. Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark
  3. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway
  7. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  8. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  9. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  10. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  11. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

  12. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  13. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
  14. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
  15. Jamaica Inn by Daphnew Du Maurier
  16. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  17. Working by Studs Terkel
  18. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  19. Bostonians by Henry James
  20. I, Claudius by  Robert Graves

A Modern Classic

Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.  (Amazon)

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Classics Club Spin #26

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin. Before next Sunday 18th April, 2021, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period. On Sunday 18th April the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 31st May, 2021. #ccspin 

  1. Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark
  3. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway
  7. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  8. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  9. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  10. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  11. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  12. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  13. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
  14. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
  15. Jamacia Inn by Daphnew Du Maurier
  16. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  17. Working by Studs Terkel
  18. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  19. Bostonians by Henry James
  20. I, Claudius by  Robert Graves
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Classics Club Spin #25 Review: Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

#ccspin

What’s a Spin?

A Classics Club Spin is a game where you make a list of the 20 classics you want to read. Then, on the announced date, the Classics Club [blog] randomly draws a number. You read the book on your list that corresponds to the number drawn. It’s fun! You can read my List for Spin 25 here.

 

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My Interest in Tortilla Flat

I needed short choices from the classics for this challenge. I also wanted to try more Steinbeck even though East of Eden gave me real world nightmares. To date I’d read East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl Of Mice and Men (all three in high school in the 70s). I wanted a Steinbeck that wouldn’t depress me too much, too.

The Story

In a run-down part of town, Danny and his friends do their best to avoid working, yet still acquire wine. One day, Danny’s luck changes and he inherits his Grandfather’s two run-down houses. He agrees to ‘rent’ one to his friends who never actually pay rent. Danny begins to see the other side of owning something worth having. The friends start to resent his wealth. Then they are all friends again. A woman gets involved. A terrible accident sets the stage for conflict…that does….not…happen. In fact nothing much happens.

The chapter titles tell the story, for example:

“How Danny’s Friends sought mystic treasure on St. Andrew’s Eve. How Pilon found it and later how a pair of serge pants changed ownership twice.”

On and on nothing really happens. They talk. The find or beg or have gifted their wine. They steal chickens to eat. They have run-ins with others in the Monterey neighborhood of the title. They accomplish nothing.

Supposedly the story mirrors Arthurian legends with Danny as Arthur. Sure, John, if you say so. Whatever. Maybe I am too stupid to “get it” again–like with many Japanese books? To me, Arthur had class, style, manners, and did stuff. These guys are what used to be called “bums.” Not “hobos” because they (usually) have a home of some sort somewhere.

They reminded me of the guys in Last of the Summer Wine (a British sitcom in which little happens while the men avoid their wives) but dirtier and with coarser manners and different accents. And not enjoyable like LOTSW was.

My verdict

4.0 For the actual writing. 

2.0 For how it held my interest.

I’ll be honest–I’m done with Steinbeck except for Travels With Charley–I do still plan to read it and possibly Harvest Gypsies.

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

Random episode of the random antics of Last of the Summer Wine

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My Classics Club Spin #25 Result Is…

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14 was the lucky number this time!

My List For Spin #25

  1. Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark
  3. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway
  7. South Riding by Winifred Holtby
  8. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  9. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  10. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  11. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  12. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  13. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  14. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

  15. Passing by Nella Larsen
  16. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  17. Working by Studs Terkel
  18. Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym
  19. Bostonians by Henry James
  20. I, Claudius by  Robert Graves

Are you playing along with The Classics Club spins? What’s your book this time? Leave me a comment or link to your post.

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Classics Club Spin #24

What is the spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, before next Sunday 9th August 2020, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period. On Sunday 9th August, the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 30th September, 2020.

 

 Spin List #24

  1. Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier
  2. Loitering With Intent by Muriel Spark
  3. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  5. Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon
  6. Kangaroo by DH Lawrence
  7. South Riding by Winifred Holtby
  8. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
  9. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  10. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  11. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  12. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  13. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  14. Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
  15. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
  16. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  17. House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  18. Imperial Women by Pearl S. Buck
  19. Bostonians by Henry James
  20. I, Claudius by  Robert Graves

 

 

Previous Spin Lists and their Corresponding Book Reviews

 

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Review: Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy

Classics Club Spin #23 

 

 

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Combined Classics Club Spin #22 and the Review of Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

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Classics Club Spin #23: Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy

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#ccspin

The Classics Club helps make reading the classics more fun! What is a Spin? Read all the fun details here. In April we made our lists, the wheel was spun, and we were told to read number 6 by June 1st. You can read my list here. Number 6 was a kindle bargain book I got a while back–The Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy, whose Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, I read too early in my life, in the literature of self-discovery–my freshman lit/writing class first semester in the Fall of 1980. The world was very different then–Ronald Regan was about to become president. Fast-forward more years than I like to say and I read and loved her novel, The Group. I’ve always planned to read her backlist, so this is my start at that goal.

 

The Story

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The Story

Imagine teaching today at a very liberal Liberal Arts college and proclaiming your affiliation with Donald Trump? But not really–just saying you loved him. There you have the premise of this novel set in progressive Jocelyn College during the McCarthy era. Published in 1952, during the reign of Senator Joseph McCarthy, this novel has stood the test of time fairly well. In a few ways–too well.

The book opens with Henry Mulchay, an instructor who was

“…he was intermittently aware of a quality of personal unattractiveness that emanated from him like a miasma;” [Kindle location 57]

reading a letter telling of his position not being renewed. The book then showcases the machinations of Mulchay and other members of his department in concocting a narrative around the letter, including Henry’s outing himself as the Communist he never was.

McCarthy, described once as

“...earnest, and empty Liberal with no sense of how complicated it is to be human.” (Leslie A.Fiedler)

wrote this book following her own experience at progressive Bard College and another college, so it sparkles with subtle wit, making fun of the academic life and its many trivialities. Like many who have read and reviewed this book, I found the little things to be hilarious. That colleges nearly 70 years on are still debating stuff like:

whether, for example, students in the dining hall, when surrendering their plates to the waiters, should pass them to the right or to the left…at an all-college meeting…compulsory for all...”[ Kindle location 780]

Another superb example was whether it is acceptable to drop the Latin diploma. Honestly, this stuff is still going on!

Many reviewers have loved the poetry conference–the ultimate send-up of academic pretensions. The will of the participants in ignoring the time-table, the egos that must be accommodated, the manners, the utter ridiculousness of the program–it is all there, beautifully written. I’ve helped with academic conferences. She nailed it, believe me.

“He had a style of old-fashioned, elaborate compliment, in which there could be detected the flourishes of an antique penmanship and the scratching for a bookkeeper’s quill.” [Kindle location 3224]

My Thoughts

My first impression was: “Wow! They had it good back then!” Instructor Henry Mulchay (“the only Ph.d in the Literature Department,” but only an “instructor” still) complains:

“How was he expected to take care of forty students if other demands on his attention were continually being put in the way?”

Only forty? What, per class? lol. The golden days of University life!

“Hen” as Mulchay is known, then goes on to speak suggestively, and in private, to a female student to whom he is “tutor” [in the Oxbridge sense of the word]! With that, the story instantly seemed to make sense to my #metoo era academic’s brain!

There were oh, so, many familiar things here! Suggestions of work being done for students to get them a diploma and get them out of someone’s hair–very today. The unforeseen idiotic comment that loses the college a huge donation from a “liberal lady.” The backbiting, in-fighting, turf-protecting, knowledge-siloing–all still there today. And, no tenure either–at least at schools without a union. All for the equivalent of Hen’s precious $3200 a year–and Hen the only Ph.D. in the department yet an instructor–not a professor. How prescient.

My Verdict

I enjoyed this book as you can see. I still think The Group offers more to the general reader. So much of what was funny in Groves of Academe was funny to me because I’ve worked in two Universities. Some of that would not be as funny to someone looking in from outside.

4.0

The Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy

 

For other fictional and funny, looks at Academic life read

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Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. My review is here.

 

 

 

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Changing Places by David Lodge.  My mini-review is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Classics Club Spin #23

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It’s time for another Classics Club Spin! Assemble your numbered list of 20 classics to be read. Tomorrow, Sunday, April 19th, the Club will announce which number to read. You go to your list, find that number on the list and read that book! Easy!

 

My List for Spin #23

Here is my list–slightly revised from Spin #22 I’ve had to eliminate any I don’t own or that are not available via ebook from the library, (Our library system is closed due to Cronoa Virus precautions) Kindle Unlimited, or free for kindle.

 

1. Loving Spirit

2. Love for Lydia

3. South Riding

4. The Blue Castle

5. Corelli’s Mandolin

6. Groves of Academe

7. Jamaica Inn

7. Letter from Peking by Pearl S Buck

Age of Innocence Review coming soon for The 1920 Club

8. Tess of the D’Ubervilles

9. The Bostonians

9. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West

10. Burmese Days

11. Dead Souls

12. Wide Sargasso Sea

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym See my review here

13. Cider With Rosie

13. Passage to India

14. The Moonstone

15. I, Claudius

16. Lost Horizon

15. House of Spirits

16. No Surrender

17. How Green Was My Valley

18. Woman in Berlin [modern classic]

19 Death in the Afternoon

20. Madame Bovary

Won’t you join in the fun? You have until June 1 to finish reading!

 

My post for Classic Club Spin #22