Time for Another Classics Club Spin

Classics Club announced its 17th spin on Thursday. If you want to participate, you must post a list of 20 books from your Classics Club list by March 9. The spin will select a number corresponding to one of those books, which they challenge you to read and post a review by the end of April. Here is my list of 20 books:

  1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  2. August Folly by Angela Thirkell
  3. La Morte D’arthur by Thomas Malory
  4. The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster
  5. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  6. I Go by Land, I Go by Sea by P. L. Travers
  7. Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
  8. Aurora Floyd by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  9. Kenilworth by Sir Walter Scott
  10. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  11. Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  12. The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
  13. Mary Lavelle by Kate O’Brien
  14. The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker by Tobias Smollet
  15. Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn
  16. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  17. Madame de Treymes by Edith Wharton
  18. My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather
  19. The Viscounte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas
  20. The Heir of Redclyff by Charlotte M. Yonge

There are lots of books on this list that I know nothing about, and only three that I have read before, so it should be an exciting spin.



Best of Five!

Cover for Birdcage WalkThe Best Book of the latest five is Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore!

P.S. Before I posted on Friday, I forgot to check Classics Club to see what spin number came up. It was #4, so I will be reading Letters from Egypt by Lucie Duff Gordon by December 31.

Classics Club Spin #16

Cover for The ShuttleI have finished my first Classics Club list, although I have not yet reviewed all of the books. I’ll be reviewing the last one sometime this month, at which time I’ll post my second Classics Club list.

For a Classics Club spin, we post 20 books from our list and then a number is chosen, which determines the book we will read for the spin. Since I’ve finished my list, I will have to make up my spin list from my second, unposted list. So, here are my selections for the next spin, for which I will post a review by December 31.

  1. August Folly by Angela Thirkell
  2. The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster
  3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  4. Letters from Egypt by Lucie Duff-Gordon
  5. The Sea Hawk by Rafael Sabatini
  6. Mary Lavelle by Kate O’Brien
  7. The Lark by E. Nesbit (This is sort of cheating, because I have already read and reviewed this book, just not before I made up my second Classics Club list in June.)
  8. West with the Night by Beryl Markham
  9. Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  10. Edward II by Christopher Marlowe
  11. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  12. The Viscount de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas
  13. The Mystery of Mrs. Blencarrow by Mrs. Oliphant
  14. Kenilworth by Sir Walter Scott
  15. Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
  16. Madame de Treymes by Edith Wharton
  17. The Priory by Dorothy Whipple
  18. Consequences by E. M. Delafield
  19. Aurora Floyd by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  20. Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier



Classics Club Spin #15

It’s time for another Classics Club spin. We are to choose 20 books from our Classics Club lists, and on Friday, the Classics Club will pick a number. That will determine the book we will read for May 1.

I am getting so close to completing my list that I haven’t had 20 books left to pick for the last several spins. This time I’ll list both Henry VI, Pt. II and III, which will force me to read Pt. II if Pt. III is chosen. Then I’ll be done with old Henry. So, here goes:

  1. The Moonstone
  2. Henry VI, Pt. II
  3. The Idiot
  4. Henry VI, Pt. III
  5. Bleak House
  6. Middlemarch
  7. The Moonstone
  8. Henry VI, Pt. II
  9. The Idiot
  10. Henry VI, Pt. III
  11. Bleak House
  12. Middlemarch
  13. The Moonstone
  14. Henry VI, Pt. II
  15. The Idiot
  16. Henry VI, Pt. III
  17. Bleak House
  18. Middlemarch
  19. The Moonstone
  20. The Idiot

Day 1003: Classics Club Spin! Look at the Harlequins!

Cover for Look at the HarlequinsI was supposed to read Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada for the latest Classics Club spin, but after attempting to read it, I substituted Look at the Harlequins!, the last novel published before Nabokov’s death. Sometimes I encounter a novel that really makes me feel stupid, or perhaps intellectually lazy, and such was the case with Ada. It was so full of literary allusions and wordplay that I felt I didn’t know what was going on half the time. In addition, it focuses on some of the same themes as Lolita, and while I found Lolita fascinating, the delights of prepubescent girls are not really what I want to read about.

Look at the Harlequins! is a more straightforward fictional autobiography. Many critics consider it a parodic biography, in which Nabokov twists the events of his life to make them meet public expectations of his character. For example, his family’s exit from Russia after the Revolution was relatively uneventful, while Nabokov has his alter ego, V. V., shoot a Red soldier on the way out. Similarly, although in life Nabokov was monogamous, he gives V. V. four wives and a salacious extra-marital career.

His literary career, however, is reflected in the novel, as is, to some extent, his academic career. I believe he transfers events involving his wife Véra to characters such as his fictional daughter Bel and a briefly mentioned assistant. In any event, he addresses his novel to an unnamed “you,” who we may assume is Véra’s alter ego.

We still don’t avoid the theme of prepubescent girls, though, as V. V. fondles an 11-year-old daughter of friends (whom he has an affair with when she is in her 20’s and he is in his 70’s), has such a questionable relationship with his daughter Bel that friends advise him to send her away to school (he fatefully decides to remarry instead), and ultimately marries a woman his daughter’s age. Obviously, this sexual focus on girls was a motif for Nabokov, but I find it disturbing.

It’s hard to evaluate this novel on a literary level. It has none of the beautiful language of Lolita. It is told in a facetious manner and focuses several times on what the narrator considers a mental aberration. Each time we have to endure a description of the problem, which actually seems like a silly one that obsesses the narrator more than it should. V. V. opens the subject each time he decides to marry but describes the problem over and over. I’m not sure what the point of it was.

Because of its facetious tone, however, the novel lacks highs and lows. Instead, it is full of puzzles, anagrams, and self-references. It is entertaining enough but ultimately unsatisfying.

Related Posts

Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)

The Gathering

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius


Classics Club Spin #14!

Another Classics Club spin is starting, so here is my list. Classics Club will pick a number between 1 and 20 on Monday, and that will determine which book I will read. I only have nine books left on my list that I haven’t read (although I haven’t yet reviewed all that I have read), so I have repeated all of them on this list to make 20. I listed them in order backwards by the time year they were written and then went back the other way, and then randomly filled out the list. Most of the ones left on my list are re-reads. We have until December 1 to read the next book chosen. I can’t wait to finish this list, because I have a new one already prepared!

  1. Cover for The MoonstoneAda by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  3. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  4. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  6. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  7. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
  8. Henry VI Pt. III by William Shakespeare (if I get this one, I’ll have to read the next one first)
  9. Henry VI Pt. II by William Shakespeare
  10. Henry VI Part III
  11. The Vicar of Wakefield
  12. Vanity Fair
  13. Bleak House
  14. The Moonstone
  15. The Idiot
  16. Middlemarch
  17. Ada
  18. The Moonstone
  19. Vanity Fair
  20. Bleak House

Classics Spin #13!

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin, for which I will post the rest of my Classics Club list, numbered. On Monday, the spin will select the number of the novel I must read and review by August 1. Since August 1 is a Literary Wives posting date, I will be posting my review the week before. And, since I have fewer than 20 books left on my list, I will have to repeat some of them. I have gotten my list down so that many of the remaining books are rereads. So, here goes:

  1. Cover for The MoonstoneThe Vicar of Wakefield
  2. Beloved
  3. Ada
  4. Henry VI, Part II
  5. The Idiot
  6. The Moonstone
  7. The True Heart
  8. Troy Chimneys
  9. Vanity Fair
  10. Bleak House
  11. Middlemarch
  12. The Beggar Maid
  13. The Moonstone
  14. Troy Chimneys
  15. The True Heart
  16. Vanity Fair
  17. Ada
  18. The Idiot
  19. Beloved
  20. Bleak House