So I may have bitten off more than I can chew with my Victober TBR. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have chosen so many books over 500 pages…
Of the 5 books that I planned to read, I only read 3. Here’s the 3 I read and my thoughts on them!
No Name by Wilkie Collins
(For the “read an underrated Victorian book from the same year as your favourite Victorian classic” challenge).
I LOVED this book! Though I haven’t read The Woman in White in a little while, I could say that this is my new favourite Wilkie Collins book, despite not being typically as “sensational” as his other novels.
No Name follows sisters Magdalen and Norah Vanstone who, after their parents deaths, discover that not only are they now orphans but they have been written out of their father’s will on the discovery that their mother and father were not actually married when the sisters were born. The two young women are left to fend for themselves and, while Norah is quite happy to work hard and place herself back into the society she was left outside of, Magdalen has other ideas and is determined to regain her inheritance. With the help of swindler Captain Wragge and her dramatic talent, Magdalen attempts to seek revenge. But just how far will she go?
I loved that the protagonist, Magdalen, was so layered and complex. When this book was first published it was deemed “immoral”, however I think it gives a brutally honest and shocking depiction of social stigma, archaic inheritance laws and shows how the boundaries of good and evil can become befuddled.
I really loved reading more of Wilkie Collins’ writing and would be very interested to delve further into his works – I think he’s such a talented author!
To Be Read at Dusk by Charles Dickens
(For the “read a Victorian book under 250 pages” challenge).
To Be Read at Dusk was an absolute joy to read! What could be more perfect for reading during October than three short ghost stories written by Charles Dickens. If you’ve ever read A Christmas Carol, you’ll know that Dickens has an incredible talent with writing ghost stories (and this is no different!) The three stories in this collection are “To Be Read at Dusk”, “The Signalman” and “The Trial for Murder”. Out of all of them, my favourite was probably The Signalman. I think it was full of unease and tension that carried all the way throughout the narrative. Although the characters are all different in the three stories, they flow beautifully; all three are equally terrifying, tense and mysterious.
I would definitely recommend reading this at dusk!
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
(For the “read a Victorian book over 500 pages” challenge).
I have to admit, The Mill on the Floss started quite slow for me and I just couldn’t seem to get into it. There’s something about George Eliot’s writing that kind of hinders me from truly enjoying her work. Perhaps it’s the super long paragraphs she writes that makes it a lot harder for me to read? Whatever it is, there’s something about her writing style that doesn’t flow so well for me. Everyone seems to adore George Eliot so maybe there’s something wrong with me haha. Maybe I should give a few more of her books a read – I have read Middlemarch and now the Mill on the Floss. If there’s any other George Eliot books you’d think I would enjoy more, then please let me know! I’m thinking of heading towards Silas Marner next…
The Mill on the Floss follows siblings Maggie and Tom Tulliver. Maggie always aims to impress her brother, but with her passionate and wild nature it seems that she always contrasts with him instead. As Maggie enters adulthood and her life changes drastically, she finds herself pulled in four different directions – towards her brother Tom, her father, the son of her father’s sworn enemy, and a dangerous and mysterious suitor.
I loved the portrayal of sibling relationships – I loved how George Eliot decpited sibling relationships as not always perfect, sometimes difficult and full of clashing personalities. I loved the fact that the book is the most autobiographical of all of hers and so I was able to delve a little deeper into her life and what her childhood was like. I loved the symbolism of the river and the mill throughout the story and how, whilst everything else was happening in the foreground, the river and the mill were always in the background, determining the story, the outcomes and aiding the flow of it.
Although the book did start off slow for me, I am pleased to say that from the middle to the end, the book really picked up and redeemed itself.
What did you read this past month? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
Love, Zoë xx