September's Fiction Book Club: Winifred Holtby's South Riding.

(51 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Sat 03-Sep-11 13:41:44

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:24:30

men's NEEDS and women's WORRIES?! ffs!

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:25:42

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StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:27:29

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:28:58

it's interesting that for such a feminist book, Holtby picks such a stereotypical, dominant man riding a big black horse, type of love interest.

of course she subverts it by NOT getting it consummated and then him dying (sorry about spoilers Stewie) but there seemed to be something slightly depressing in the idea that even these modern women go weak at the knees at the sight of a tall strong ungovernable landowner.

I know she tries to make it a lot subtler than that though.

SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:32:11

Mrs Beddows' love for Carne is one of the most interesting things about the book I think. There's the suggestion that she loved him too much, it was sort of an indulgence she allowed herself, and it makes her a much more rounded character the way her love for him is ambiguous, partly seeing him as a son, partly admiring him physically.
I didn't pick up on the socialism/feminism parallel there but you're right.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:33:46

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:34:54

using what as a trope? sorry, so many ideas flying around!

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:36:20

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StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:38:14

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:40:22

I don't think so, but he's so wrapped up in his own problems (which admittedly are considerable) and also he's used to women admiring him, he probably doesn't ever notice unless he's after a shag.
He would be a relatively unattractive character (seen dispassionately) if it weren't for his love for Midge - which of course is what makes Sarah change her view of him.

SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:42:08

this reminds me I must reread Jane Eyre with this in mind - the parallels were clearly deliberate (heroine being teacher of landowner's daughter by mad wife, Rochester-like hero on big black horse).

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:43:19

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:44:27

oh I think it was definitely a trope.

Actually, the Cold Comfort Farm reference is a sort of clue because it shows she was a writer who knowingly made references to other books, expecting the reader to pick up on them.

SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:46:06

it would be an excellent one for Book Club.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:53:03

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:54:37

you definitely get a sense of a writer who is at the top of her game. Handling so many threads and complex characters is impressive as well.

(what else would she have written if she'd lived? sad)

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 21:56:50

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:57:21

there are probably loads of references we're missing because we're not from the 1930s!
Even so, it feels completely up-to-the-minute. Especially the local government corruption.

SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 21:59:21

I only read it because of the tv adaptation. It was one of the ones republished by Virago in the 1980s so it must have fallen out of fashion before then.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 22:01:03

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 22:01:32

I wonder why it was out of fashion.

SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 22:03:47

it needs to be printed in one of those Penguin Classics editions with footnotes. There's an intro by Andrew Davies in the BBC books edition that I've got but it's mostly about Holtby's life.

alemci Wed 14-Sep-11 22:08:01

I read this 20 years' ago. I know the area where it is set. I believe it is humberside?

I think the poverty was worse than it was portrayed in the tv production but I may be wrong. There was a man on a bike selling insurance if i remember.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 14-Sep-11 22:11:34

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SybilBeddows Wed 14-Sep-11 22:19:16

yes Alemci, there are a few minor characters who didn't make it into the tv version and one of them is the insurance salesman who is plunged into poverty.

There's a very touching scene where he has to go to the assistance committee for money and Carne is on the committee having just tried and failed to borrow some money from his brother himself and the man is all ashamed and embarrassed and Carne makes a joke about it and makes him feel better.

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