The Turn of the Century Salon: An Introduction


When I saw this, courtesy of Breadcrumb Reads, I couldn’t resist.  November’s Autumn has started a new club based around literature of the 1880s-1930s.  Anyone who knows me, or who reads my blog and takes in the waffle, will have picked up on the fact I love any literature relating to, set during, based on the First World War, and I have a certain love of classics as well, so I feel this is a club I am eager to join and read more about.  As this is a new club, members have been asked to answer a few questions about themselves and the reason they are interested in this period.

What draws you to read the Classics?

I have a huge love of literature in general, having studied it at university and somehow ending up an English teacher, but I often feel that I didn’t appreciate a lot of what I was reading at the time; too many distractions at university!  I love the language and the fact they often take a fair amount of concentration and engagement to enjoy and learn to love.  I sometimes feel I was born in the wrong era, so literature is a perfect way to escape.

What era have you mainly read? Georgian? Victorian? Which authors?

Until fairly recently I would have said Victorian was the era I tended to favour, particularly Dickens, Hardy and Wilkie Collins, although I have devoured all Austen, so some Georgian thrown into the mix.  However my MA was in History and I focused on the First World War, so I am keen to read anything from this period.

What Classics have you read from the 1880s-1930s? What did you think of them?

Hmmm where to begin?  I think I will mention those I have read most recently as they are fresh in my mind.

  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920) – I wasn’t a huge fan, despite hearing many good things about this novel.  I found my concentration waning, but maybe that has something to do with the fact I was reading it at Christmas.
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (1886) – I love Hardy and this novel didn’t disappoint.  He writes about the countryside I grew up in and I love reading about it from a fresh perspective and he certainly creates tragic characters well.
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1910) – A story I knew well from the film that was released during my early childhood.  I enjoyed the novel and the subtle differences between the two.
  • Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938) – I usually love Waugh’s novels, but this one did not grab my attention.  Saying that I do enjoy his prose and turn of phrase.
  • Any Jeeves and Wooster by P.G.Wodehouse (1915 – 1974) – How can you not love Jeeves and Wooster?  They are such light hearted reads and always bring a smile to my face.

Name some of the books you are looking forward to reading for the salon.

I’m not sure where to begin.  I would like to reread some work by Virginia Woolf, having studied her at university.  More Jeeves and Wooster and some Persephone novels that I hope fit in to the tail end of the era.  I would like to read more memoirs of the First World War, specifically Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth.  But for now I will just see where my reading takes me.

Which authors do you hope to learn more about?

I  would like to read some E.M.Forster, Wilkie Collins and some more literature from The Bloomsbury Set, but I am open to new suggestions, ideas and love reading other people’s posts/recommendations, so I am sure the list will grow.

Is your preference prose? Poetry? Both?

I tend to favour prose, although I do love the poetry of the First World War.  I would like to read more poetry, so hopefully this will be the perfect opportunity.

I certainly look forward to reading the views and opinions of others who have signed up and I cannot wait to discover some new authors.


10 thoughts on “The Turn of the Century Salon: An Introduction

  1. I’ve decided not to do challenges this year (even though this sounds like a great one!) but I am a member of The Classics Club; so will be interested to see what you read. Might be able to add some of them to my list 🙂

    1. Thank you! I thought I wold make more of an effort to get involved in thee types of clubs this year, so fingers crossed I’ll stick to it, certainly looking forward to learning more about this era

  2. Great post! It’s good to meet another Wodehouse enthusiast. An adaptation of Blandings is being broadcast starting this Sunday on the BBC, here’s the trailer: Excellent idea re: the Vera Brittain, I should do that too (I’m a fan of Winifred Holtby and they were excellent friends). I should give Waugh another chance – I disliked the conclusion of Brideshead and haven’t been able to reach past the first chapter of a few of his other novels. Maybe I should try his short stories?

    1. I know I keep seeing it on BBC and can’t wait, must set a reminder. I haven’t heard of Winifred Holtby I don’t think so I will have to research her. I wasn’t a huge fan of Brideshead, but I read A Handful of Dust and I loved it, so I would definitely recommend that. I would be quite interested to read Waugh’s letters to Nancy Mitford as well, but I don’t think they really hit this time period.

      1. A Handful of Dust is one of my favourite Waugh novels; the fate of one character in particular is brilliantly ironic. I look forward to hearing your views when you do read it.

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