This weekend I’m booked: Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon 2019

Woohoo, it’s time for the autumn Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon, which celebrates all things bookish, and where participants “read books, post to our blogs, Twitters, Instagrams, Litsy, Facebook, Goodreads and MORE about our reading, and visit other readers’ homes online”.  What better way could there be to spend time at the weekend!

Of course, it is not necessary literally to read for 24 hours.  You can just read for 5 minutes if you want to.  But from all the posts I have seen so far, it looks as if many folks have crazily high To Be Read piles and why not.  We all know that putting together lists and piles of books to read is one of the great pleasures of being an avid reader!

As you can see from the picture above, I have a modest pile in terms of number of volumes, but an ambitious one vis à vis number of pages.  Ducks, Newburyport is famously nearly 1,000 pages long, with only a handful of full stops.  But everything I have seen about it suggests that it is a wonderful read.  I have been saving it for this weekend because I think it will be worth having some dedicated reading time to get in to it properly.

And if I need a change or fancy a distraction, I have several great library books to continue reading.  I have not yet started Praise Song For The Butterflies, but am part-way through the other three, and enjoying all of them.  I am not expecting to read all of these books all the way through in 24 hours – I may be a reading fanatic but nothing gets in the way of watching Strictly Come Dancing on a Saturday evening.  But it will be great to be spending plenty of time between the pages.

The 24-hour period kicks off today (26 October) at 8am Eastern Time, which is a very civilised 1pm for me here in Scotland.

I am looking forward to checking out what everyone else is doing on the various social media platforms, as well as my own reading of course.  And most importantly, there will be snacks.  Oh yes – one’s choice of reading snack is almost as important as the books to read during the Readathon.  Along with copious amounts of tea, natch.

So I’m ready to go – roll on 1pm! 🙂

“A gem of a book” – reading Dorothy Whipple’s High Wages for the #1930club

This week, Karen and Simon have been hosting one of their reading club events, this time focusing on books published in 1930.  It has been great fun seeing what everyone has chosen to read – by all accounts 1930 was a bumper publishing year.  My contribution has been to read High Wages by Dorothy Whipple.

I have previously read and very much enjoyed four other Whipple novels:  Because of the LockwoodsGreenbanksThey Knew Mr Knight and Someone at a Distance. So I had high expectations for High Wages.  Happily I was not disappointed in any way.  Once I started it, I could hardly put it down.

The narrative style of High Wages is classic Whipple:  seemingly light and frothy from the beginning, while gradually drawing the reader in through incisive social observation, humour and wit, and brilliantly rendered characters.

Knowing that I would be writing this review for the 1930club, I started to mark up potential references, as you can see, but soon realised that I might end up noting the whole book. On every page is a fascinating socio-economic comment, a hilarious exchange of dialogue and/or a passing reference which makes one think ‘I really must get back to that/read up more about that’.  As such, this is a novel packed full of interest on all kinds of levels.  And as a bonus, the story is an absolute cracker!

High Wages is about shop-girl Jane Carter, working in a draper’s shop in a fictional Lancashire town.  We first meet her and her fellow townspeople in 1912 and through Jane’s eyes we learn about how society and life were changing for working class people, and women in particular.  There is a super essay with more analysis about the novel on the Persephone Forum. Persephone also highlights the origin of the title, which is based on a Thomas Carlyle quotation: ‘Experience doth take dreadfully high wages, but she teacheth like none other’.

As Jane Brocket notes in her introduction to the Persephone reprint, quoting Jane Carter herself:  “High Wages is a gem of a novel, ‘a perfect thing clear and simple’.”  I loved reading this book and look forward to my continuing journey through the Whipple catalogue. 🙂