I finished two of my 'Winter reads' yesterday; 'The Woods in Winter' by Stella Gibbons, of 'Cold Comfort Farm' fame, and also 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Both now are problematic for modern-day readers including the language used to refer to people - how can I put this delicately - in different social worlds.
'The Secret Garden' was published in 1911, and the language used to describe the servants of the British in India, and later, when describing the local people living on the moor near the big house, shocked me the last time I reread the book, a couple of years ago. This time around, I was struck by how little thought was given to the emotional needs of the children at the big house, compared to the warm loving cottage home of Diccon.
Ultimately the message of hope, rebirth and recovery was just perfect for a cold December approaching the shortest days of the year.
'The Woods in Winter' is a wickedly subversive comedy of semi-feudal country life in the 1930s, at a time when everything was changing. Interestingly, it was one of the last books by Stella Gibbons, written in 1970, so viewing these intricate social relationships from a distance of 40 years.
I've embarked upon 'The Twyford Chronicles' by Janice Hallett for the book club, and also Rosamund Pilcher's 'Winter Solstice' as a lighter Winter read. It's a good deal less demanding than 'The Twyford Chronicles ' or last week's book club choice 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog', which I am still only partway through.
Guess which one I am reading most at the moment!