Skip to main content

Review: Crossriggs, by Jane and Mary Findlater


Pages: 380

Original date of publication: 1908

My edition: 1986

Why I decided to read: heard about it through the Virago Modern Classics list

How I acquired my copy: Ebay, August 2010

I’ve been on quite a “spinster lit” kick recently, since many Virago Modern Classics seem to fall along these lines. Set in the Scottish town of Crossriggs, this is the story of Alexandra Hope, a woman in her thirties who lives with her father, a vegetarian, and her widowed sister and her children. Alexandra becomes a devoted aunt, taking up reading aloud in order to support her family. Meanwhile, she begins a friendship with a married man with whom, predictably, she falls in love.

It’s a good story, but I thought that Alex was a bit dense most of the time—especially when it came to her feelings for Mr. Maitland! And I thought she was especially harsh when it comes to Van—poor Van, who seems to come out the loser in this story. I also had a bit of a problem with Alex’s personality; she was a bit Mary Sue-ish, too selfless at times to be wholly believable, or sympathetic. However, I like that she’s charming and independent, especially when it comes to taking care of herself and her family. Some of the other characters don’t quite jump off the page, either; Alex’s father is a vegetarian, which must have been quite unusual back then as he’s portrayed as eccentric.

In tone, this book is very Victorian, exploring as it does the twin themes of love and marriage. But it’s also very modern in its outlook, since it also explores the theme of happiness and one woman’s search for independence—even as she tries to support her family. Alex is wholly a woman of her time; she’s neither too old-fashioned nor too modern, which I like about her. This novel therefore embraces the old Victorian mores while at the same time exploring modern concepts. It’s a strange mix, but one I found strangely compelling.

Comments

Carolyn said…
It's nice to see a more obscure VMC reviewed!
bookssnob said…
I hadn't heard much about this one before - as Carolyn says, it's nice to see a more obscure VMC being reviewed. It certainly sounds interesting, and very Victorian - right up my street!

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…