Sunday, 27 February 2011

Neglected literary classics

In today's Observer newspaper Rachel Cooke chooses her 10 neglected literary classics. The premise is that they are all worthy of a BBC adaptation, like South Riding. They are as follows:

The Real Charlotte by Somerville and Ross
The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns
The Rector's Daughter by FM Mayor
School for Love by Olivia Manning
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
A Way of Life, Like Any Other by Darcy O'Brien
The Odd Women by George Gissing
The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Ann Veronica by HG Wells
The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski

I have to admit that the only two I have heard of are The Blank Wall and The Victorian Chaise-Longue because they are in the Persephone catalogue. Possible others are as well, I'm new to Persephone. I've read The Irish RM by Somerville and Ross and I'm sure I must've read something by HG Wells. Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns is on my TBR shelf. I have been wanting for years to read Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning after seeing the tv adaptation starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh.

I love lists of books. The Observer does a list just before Christmas in which famous people choose their favourite book they've read that year. And sometimes a similar one in early summer in which people say which books they're taking on holiday with them. I've recently discovered book blogs and they give me the same sort of pleasure, I love knowing what other people are reading.

One more thing - Rachel Cooke describes South Riding as a 'lost novel'. Was it really?


  1. I thought this was a pretty good list, although I've not read many of them I have got most of them on my shelves! The Vet's Daughter is absolutely brilliant.

  2. I wouldn't say South Riding was lost, it's stayed in print since the Virago reprint in the 1980s, but I do think it is a book that should be known a wider readership that hopefully the Andrew Davies adaptation will help it find.

    Like Simon, I know and like a number of the authors on the list, and I can second his recommendation of The Vet's Daughter.

  3. Simon - having read your blog for a few months I am aware of your love of Comyns! I actually owe you a big thank you. Yours was the first book blog I read and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to discover more. So thank you.

    fleurfisher - I read South Riding as a teenager, I think that I just assumed that it was a book most people knew about. I haven't read it since then, but I'm loving the tv series.

  4. I have yet to read South Riding. Not sure now I have watched it?

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, always nice to see new folk!

  5. Aww, I'm so glad that I set you off blogging! Thanks for telling me :)

  6. Jo - I enjoyed visiting your blog. I'll be back!