50 posts and not out – and a wicked Virago book

Fifty posts! And not out! Well, I’m impressed. When I started this blog in July I needed something to distract me, as I have done this week. It has distracted me, given me something extra to aim for when reading, and meant some valuable IT practice so that when I started a training course this morning I knew my way round a PC and the internet. So a win win situation. I have, most importantly, enjoyed doing it, so thank you all readers, regular and otherwise. Please keep reading, and tell your friends. Someone has been  doing so, as I broke the 800 views yesterday!

At least two book bloggers are running a Virago Book Reading Week. Booksnob http://bookssnob.wordpress.com and A Few of My Favourite Books  afewofmyfavouritebooks.wordpress.com are looking at various Virago books this week. When I look at my shelves I have some of the original green jackets, as well as the books in different covers. When you realise that they have reprinted Austens as well as more obscure female authors there is plenty of choice. I think on one of those two sites there is a list of all the books published, so you could set yourself the task of reading all of them (200+!). You can pick up some of them in Charity shops, and even one or two on the 1p offer on a certain bookselling website. In order to balance things, I have also picked up an offer for independent book shops. See http://www.campaignforrealbooks.org for a membership offer.

The Virago book I have chosen and read is Love Letters by Joan Wyndham.

This is the diary of a teenage girl in wartime London. This is no misty eyed account of bravery under fire, but instead the bohemian lifestyle of artists, writers and colourful characters in a Chelsea studio. Even  Joan’s parents are strange and daring, with extreme Catholicism and eccentricity  as standard. The book is full of teenage angst, disappointment and upset, but also the excitement of war, and the uncertainty of destruction on a nightly basis. Joan goes through all the agonies of unrequited love and growing up fast against a unique, challenging background. It is also a very funny book, painful in its realism and daring in its detail. A dour account of war it certainly isn’t. There are torrid tales of passion and bad cooking. Joan varies between childlike delight in cakes and mature pondering on why her objects of adoration always have another mistress on the go. I’m not sure how much this is true autobiography, and the two further volumes of diary do not attract me much, but this is a good read on its own. And it is an excellent antidote to grim wartime diaries.