Victober is upon us. Last year I so enjoyed participating in the Victorian-themed reading challenge that I plan to do so again this year. I haven’t decided the books or stories yet, but if you have ideas feel free to share them in the comments.
What is Victober? Victorian October is about reading Victorian literature all month long. It was created by co-hosts Katie at Books and Things, Kate Howe and Lucy the Reader. So, for the purposes of this challenge, the definition of Victorian literature is a book written or published by a British or Irish writer, or a writer residing in Britain or Ireland, in the years 1837-1901. But I’ve decided to only read books that I own or can access from the library or Project Gutenberg. This means that I’ll alter the challenge slightly to suit my needs.
1. Kate’s challenge: Read a Victorian sensation novel 2. Katie’s challenge: Read a Victorian book set in the countryside AND/OR the city 3. Lucy’s challenge: Read a Victorian book with a female main character 4. Group challenge: Read a popular Victorian book you haven’t yet read (how you define popular is up to you – could be popular now, popular on Booktube, popular in the Victorian period itself) 5. Bonus challenge: Read aloud a section of a Victorian work, or have it read aloud to you (ie, by a friend or an audiobook)
Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
Gothic Tales includes the following shorter works: Disappearances The Old Nurse’s Story The Squire’s Story The Poor Clare The Doom of the Griffiths Lois the Witch The Crooked Branch Curious, If True The Grey Woman
My reading for July wasn’t as eventful as I’d like, but I kept busy by listening to several The Great Courses lectures. I love The Great Courses lectures and I regularly listen to new courses. Audible has a bunch of them and the courses really make learning so much fun. Anyway, here is what I read:
The Veil by Rachel Harrison is a short audiobook (Audible Original) set in the present day. Sally, the main character, falls in love with a young man who is from another era. Either that or he is a figment of her imagination. I’ll let you decide. Sally is married to her childhood sweetheart, but has long fallen out of love with him. This leads her to search for happiness and meaning in her life. I really, really enjoyed listening to this story. It is an otherworldly, spooky tale that actually made me laugh. The story is just under one hour long; perfect for taking a leisurely walk, cooking dinner or just lounging at home. I’d describe the story as Jane Austen novel meets Outlander meets Victorian England.
I also read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. This very interesting story takes place in Victorian England during the Irish nationalist movement. Thaniel Steepleton, one of the novel’s protagonists, must solve a recent bombing of Scotland Yard. The Irish nationalists are blamed for the bombing. Thaniel soon realizes that the group may not be the cause of the bombing. There is a more nefarious perpetrator afoot. His investigation leads him to Keita Mori, a kind Japanese watchmaker living in London. They work together to solve the bombing and become close friends in the process. The mysterious Mori quickly became my favorite character.
Reading this story immersed me in a new type of literary Victorian England: a diverse London featuring characters from other parts of the world and characters who speak more than just English. The story takes place in England and Japan. It was fascinating to arm-chair travel to Meiji era Japan. I also like that almost all of the characters have some sort of education or a specialty that they are passionate about. The ending left me wanting more; good thing there is a second book in this series.