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Lolly Willowes
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
130 posts | 73 read | 143 to read
In Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner tells of an aging spinster's struggle to break way from her controlling familya classic story that she treats with cool feminist intelligence, while adding a dimension of the supernatural and strange. Warner is one of the outstanding and indispensable mavericks of twentieth-century literature, a writer to set beside Djuna Barnes and Jane Bowles, with a subversive genius that anticipates the fantastic flights of such contemporaries as Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson.
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Jas16
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

Lolly is a spinster of independent means but is living a life thrust upon her by others rather than the one she truly wants. One day she finally breaks free and moves to the small town of her dreams where she can ramble about outdoors to her hearts‘ content. When her peace is threatened she must either reconcile herself to her lot as Aunt Lolly or find her inner strength. I loved Lolly and everything this book had to say about her role as a woman.

BarbaraBB A great review! I Enjoyed the book too. 2w
LeahBergen Wonderful review. I liked this one! 2w
batsy I love this book and I'm always happy when I see someone else enjoy it 💜 2w
Suet624 Shoot. I have to remember to read this. Great review. 4d
70 likes1 stack add4 comments
review
zezeki
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Mehso-so

Managed to squeeze one more read this month so I'm super proud about it! ☺️ This was a little slow in the first two parts, but then in the last one things picked up a little, and there was an interesting monologue about women's role in society at that time. Overall, it was an okay read, and just for this time of the year. 🎃📚📚

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zezeki
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Starting this one tonight. Not sure if I'll be able to finish it by the end of October but I'll give it a try. 📚📚🎃

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sarahbellum
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

Well, this witchy feminist book was delightful 🧙🏻‍♀️👹. I‘m really glad I stumbled upon it in my Goodreads TBR a few months ago and remembered it again when considering spooky books for Oct. I‘d be lying if I said I never thought about running off to the countryside to be left alone (perhaps that‘s how I wound up in CA 🤔)

I found another fun crossover between my current reads- both Middlemarch and Lolly mention Milton‘s blindness ⬇️

sarahbellum The two main characters‘ reactions to Milton‘s daughters reading and writing on his behalf truly highlight a major difference between these two women: Dorothea included that reliance on her most-wanted-in-a-husband list and Lolly/Laura literally made a deal with the devil to avoid that kind of dependence 😂 (edited) 2mo
BookNAround I‘ve always wished Milton‘s daughters hadn‘t transcribed for their old dad. I loathe the misogynistic old bugger‘s writing. 😂 2mo
Sparklemn Great catch on the crossover! 2mo
batsy Nice review! I love Lolly Willowes 🖤 2mo
45 likes4 comments
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sarahbellum
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Indulging in a short, witchy read from the 1920s 🧙‍♀️

This highlighted response sounds like something Luna Lovegood would say 😂

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monalyisha
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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My book club is starting the lengthy process of putting together our 2023 reading list. It requires Google forms & multiple rounds of voting. 😅 I know you‘ll all appreciate the high degree of nerdiness.

Here are my submissions for the year to come! What do you think? Would *you* be in a book club with me? Have you read any? Would they make for good discussions? Are there any on your TBR? Any you‘d stay away from?

BarbaraBB I‘d be definitely in a book club with you. I love the eclectic choices. True Biz and Lolly Willows I liked and are worth some discussion. I didn‘t like Shuggie Bain but that‘s just me. (edited) 3mo
BarbaraBB Oh and I enjoyed The Sentence! 3mo
Linsy I love Sharon Blackie!!! I found If Women Rose Rooted was very impactful. 3mo
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Dilara The only book I've read in this list is Lolly Willows, which I loved! I can recommend it to readers who are not looking for a fast-paced, action-packed novel (nothing much happens - it's all very observational)! It would definitely make for good discussions. 3mo
ozma.of.oz I loved The Conductors! And The Sentence has been on my TBR for months. ❤️ 3mo
TrishB I‘ve only read True Biz and enjoyed! 3mo
Susanita I would totally be in your book club! 3mo
Prairiegirl_reading I was thinking of adding the sentence for my book club too. I haven‘t read any of these yet but they all look interesting to me! 😄 3mo
JenReadsAlot True Biz is good! 3mo
squirrelbrain I loved the ones I‘ve read (Shuggie, The Sentence and TrueBiz). Can I join your book club?! 😁 3mo
Viji The Sentence was excellent! 3mo
LeeRHarry There are some good ones there 😊 your bookgroup sounds very much like mine - let the voting begin! 😁 3mo
63 likes12 comments
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batsy
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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#AlphabetGame @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks
Letter L

It has to be Lolly for me 🖤 #spinsterlit

review
Crinoline_Laphroaig
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

If Mildred from #ExcellentWomenandBoiledPotatoes ran away to the county and became a witch. 😆

Crinoline_Laphroaig A weird little book. Starts off Barbara Pym-ish. Next thing you know we've escaped to the country and become a witch.

Beautiful writing. Divided into 3 Parts with no Chapters which makes it feel like it is rambling sometimes. I like Chapters because it gives you a natural break.

Fun Fact the very 1st Book of the Month Selection from 1926.
4mo
Crinoline_Laphroaig Kind of a Spoiler but I was glad to know. 4mo
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batsy Ooh, I like that description! I love both Lolly Willowes and Excellent Women 💕 4mo
DivineDiana Love your review! Already stacked! 4mo
kspenmoll 🙌🏻😂😂 4mo
AllDebooks 🤣🤣📚 4mo
Sparklemn Sounds fun. On my wishlist. 4mo
Vansa Would love to read this. Thanks for sharing! 4mo
willaful I read this decades ago and it made an impression! I still remember the little poem at the end. 4mo
TheAromaofBooks Fantastic review! 😂 4mo
52 likes3 stack adds11 comments
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Crinoline_Laphroaig
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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#PemberLittens
I'd never heard the name Everard until
#excellentwomenandboiledpotatoes Readalong. Now it's popped up in Current Read: "Everard, the eldest son...." is ancestor of Lolly.

I picked this out from Book of the Month because it was the very 1st #BOTM back in 1926.
#conciedenceIthinknot

LeahBergen And it was a character‘s name in a book I just finished, too! 4mo
rwmg Those of us of a certain vintage from the UK may remember the stand-up comedian Larry Grayson's friend Everard 4mo
Crinoline_Laphroaig @LeahBergen that looks like a fun read! 4mo
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Crinoline_Laphroaig @rwmg will have to look that up! 4mo
38 likes6 comments
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SerialReader
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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One of the more intriguing books from 1926 now in the public domain and Serial Reader:

"Lolly" breaks away from her controlling family to the countryside where she finds freedom... and witchcraft! Yes! Satire, comedy, fantasy, and feminism all in one.

Read it in 16 issues with #serialreader

BarbaraBB Such a great book! Thanks for adding it! 11mo
batsy I was so delighted to see this in there! 11mo
27 likes2 comments
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Centique
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

Delightful and then delightfully wicked. I‘d have enjoyed it just for the brilliant Lolly; her spinsterhood and wistful nostalgia for the independence of childhood and the home where she could explore nature. In later life Lolly throws caution to the wind, undoes the ties that bind and creates a new home. I fell in love with her new life in Great Mop and enjoyed her fight to keep it. Beautifully written with a feminist barb in its tail.

Cathythoughts Great review 👍🏻❤️ 12mo
BarbaraBB Great read indeed! 12mo
batsy Fab review! I love Lolly and I'm so glad you enjoyed it, too 💕 12mo
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erzascarletbookgasm Lovely review! 💛 I hope to get to this next year 😄 12mo
merelybookish Excellent review! It's hard not to fall for Lolly! 💚🧙 12mo
LeahBergen Lovely review! I enjoyed this one, too. 😊 12mo
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review
underground_bks
Lolly Willowes | Random House
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Pickpick

Published in 1926, later becoming the very first Book Of The Month, Lolly Willowes is a classic of feminist literature—and unapologetically, literally witchy. Laura, called Lolly by her niblings, is a spinster smothered by family obligation. She moves to the countryside alone to pursue her own life. This is a brief but slow-building novella but the payoff is worth the wait for Laura and for her readers.

batsy Great photo! 🐈🧙‍♀️ 14mo
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Dilara
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
This post contains spoilers
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Lolly made a pact with Satan just so that her family would leave her be in the countryside ! Love it 🤣

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Dilara
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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I bought this book in a second-hand bookshop recently and it‘s falling to pieces! I am roughly halfway through and loving every minute of it. I might have to buy a cleaner, better copy at some point. Also notice the publisher‘s logo 🤨. I guess they have an ironic sense of humour.

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Dilara
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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My haul from the book town I visited yesterday

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Tanisha_A
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Hi! ❤️ I have been very inactive here, and i missed you all. I finished reading Willowes sometime back, and missed the discussion, yet again. But i went through the comments, which I found to be an interesting exchange of thoughts. Here‘s my review:

Lolly (Laura), an ageing spinster is forced to live with her relations and be part of their domestic lives. The notion that, because a woman is not married, she is not an individual, is sharply,👇🏽

Tanisha_A scornfully portrayed in this feminist novel published in 1926, set in England. The book is divided in two distinct parts – first half depicts Lolly‘s struggles with the boundaries she‘s been put within, while the second half charts out her journey of breaking those shackles, grabbing her freedom, and living a life of will and happiness. It‘s a brilliant text on finding/realising one‘s individuality. 1y
vivastory Terrific review! I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed this one. 1y
BookishMarginalia Welcome back! 1y
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LeahBergen Hello! 👋🏻 Lovely review. 1y
batsy Lovely to see you back and so happy you liked this! 1y
quietjenn So nice to see you and great thoughts on Lolly! 1y
Reggie Is it the marital bliss keeping you away? Lol, good to see you again! 1y
BarbaraBB Happy to see you back! 🤍 1y
Tanisha_A @vivastory Thankee Scott! It was a bit slow in the beginning, but i am so glad i kept on. I didn‘t fathom that I‘d end up loving it, and that it‘d make me think a lot. Very good selection! 😊 1y
Tanisha_A @LeahBergen @batsy @quietjenn Hi, hi! ❤️ So happy to be back. And this one turned from a bit boring in the beginning to a fantastic read for me. Yay! 1y
Tanisha_A @BookishMarginalia @BarbaraBB Hola, ladies! ❤️ Happy to be talking to you all again! 1y
Tanisha_A @Reggie Hahahaha! You say it the best, Reg! ☺️ 1y
BiblioLitten Lovely picture! 💕 1y
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Leftcoastzen
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Pickpick

#NYRBBookClub So,I think it should be called the Spinster lit book club as many of the titles are in this vein .I enjoyed the book , its dry humor.No doubt it is a rich topic as women are seen as daughter , debutant, bride , mother , grandmother & what to make of a woman who doesn‘t follow the path. Laura‘s role as aunt submerged her relationship w/ nature when uprooted from a county house to life in London w/ family.No wonder she escaped !

vivastory Spinster lit book club has a nice ring to it 😂 1y
Leftcoastzen @vivastory I was sorry I was not finished in time for discussion. 1y
quietjenn It for sure seems like a number of our choices would fall into this vein! I‘m pretty all about the Spinster Lit though, so make no apologies. 1y
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Leftcoastzen @quietjenn me too! Ready for the Spinster Lit Fan Club t-shirt ! Also loved review by @Billypar maybe why mine a little irreverent.😄 1y
quietjenn @Leftcoastzen I think Lolly would approve of your irreverence and your review sure her justice 😉 1y
Billypar I love this review 😅 I felt like Lolly Willowes ended on somewhat of a positive note, even if it wasn't quite a happy ending. The same can't really be said for Skylark and certainly not for The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearn! 1y
Leftcoastzen @Billypar oh , Judith!the most miserable of them all ! 1y
batsy I'm all for #spinsterlit book club! 🙌🏾😆 1y
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review
Billypar
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Feminism, witches, repressive 1926 society - the pieces suggest a novel we don't even have to read -- we get the gist from the blurb on the back flap. Except that's just not the case with this novel. It's neither the fantasy novel nor the satire you might expect. The title character spends most of the novel in a realistic world and doesn't spend it fighting against the oppressive forces of a patriarchal society 👇

Billypar Instead, she tries to make sense of how to maintain dignity in such a world, along with a sense of spiritual awe, when the patriarchal structures of family and religion offer neither. She sees the benefits of being a spinster, but also learns the problems of being outside society aren't easily dismissed. This book is not only progressive, it's also wise. I'm indebted to #nyrbbookclub for putting it on my radar even though I missed the discussion! (edited) 1y
quietjenn Such a great review! Hooray for Lolly (Laura)! 1y
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batsy Fantastic review! I'm so glad you liked it. I love this book for all the reasons you mentioned ❤️ 1y
JazzFeathers Needs!!!!! 1y
Billypar @quietjenn Thanks! And thanks for leading this month's pick- the discussion questions were great. 1y
Billypar @batsy Thanks! This and The True Deceiver from earlier this year are new nyrb favorites for me. 1y
LeahBergen What a lovely review! 1y
vivastory Stellar review! Sorry you missed the discussion but I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on it & I'm so happy that this is a new favorite for you. I love it & am looking forward to reading more Warner! 1y
Billypar @LeahBergen Thanks! 🙂 1y
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! I'm interested in reading more of her too - I didn't even realize she had another from nyrb (also featuring a memorable title). 1y
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quietjenn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Question 6: At the beginning of the book, Lolly (Laura) feels the pressures of familial obligations. These remain even after her move to Great Mop. Once she has made a pact with the devil, has she truly gained independence or is she still under forced obligation but of another kind?

#NYRBBookClub

vivastory Great job with selecting the pictures 👍 1y
vivastory I have ambiguous feelings about the ending which I think is a great ending. On the one hand it does seem like LW is merely trading one form of male dominance for another, on the other it does seem like she has reached a sort of new found independence through her pact with the devil. 1y
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quietjenn @vivastory thanks! I had great fun picking them out. 1y
quietjenn I don't feel there's total freedom at the end. Although it definitely makes you consider how stifling things must have been otherwise, if making the pact with the devil tipped the scales as the better option. 1y
vivastory @quietjenn There also did seem to be a feeling that the devil saw her as more of an individual than anyone in her family ever did. Most of them seemed to view her in terms of either how helpless she was or how much she could help in the household 1y
quietjenn @vivastory that's a great point! Like when he recognized that the persona of the Bacchanalian lover at the Witch's party had no appeal for her, so he transformed himself into someone she'd want to converse with. 1y
BarbaraBB @vivastory That‘s right I think, Satan is the first to really appreciate her for who she is. She can let her guard down. 1y
GatheringBooks @vivastory precisely what i thought! Here goes another male figure to be subservient towards - yet the fact that the spinster can give Satan a scolding made me smile. 1y
GatheringBooks I echo @vivastory ‘s comments about the photos, dear @quietjenn - super loved the thoughtful questions, too! 1y
quietjenn @GatheringBooks thank you, and please give @vivastory lots of credit for forming coherent questions from my brain dump 😂 👏 1y
sisilia The whole of Part 3 of the book is my least favorite part. Why must she turn to Satan? 😅 As @quietjenn said, I doubt she gets her desired freedom at the end. The devil must want something in return 1y
Billypar I'm so upset to be a day late finishing this - I loved it! I liked how the end doesn't give a definitive answer to what the Devil's ways really are. The fact that he's likened to a hunter or trapping humans with a net suggests that he is the enemy of freedom, even though Laura outwardly gained more freedom by becoming a witch. I thought there was the suggestion that she was unique from others only by knowing she was in his grasp. 1y
quietjenn @Billypar I‘m so glad you decided to chime in, even if a day later .The points you make about the Hunter aspect of the Devil are great ones! 1y
30 likes14 comments
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quietjenn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Question 5: Warner's style has been variously described as detached & breezy, yet there is some great humor present. Do you find Warner's style effective?

#NYRBBookClub

vivastory Definitely! This is the only Warner that I have read, but I do think that the humor, subtle as it is, was very effective. 1y
quietjenn I *loved* the humor of this book, and was certainly not expecting it. Thinking of the dinner scene when they are trying to marry her off and she tells that dude that he might be a werewolf still makes me laugh. 1y
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quietjenn I appreciate so much that it's dealing with some of the issues that we've discussed, but in a tone and style that isn't ponderous or pretentious. 1y
vivastory @quietjenn 😂 I loved that scene. I can't help but imagine Laura & Marian from The Hearing Trumpet at a dinner party together 1y
LeahBergen Yes! The werewolf comment at dinner was the BEST. 🤣 1y
GatheringBooks Honestly, the writing didn‘t really resonate with me all that well. This felt almost like an “obligatory read” for me for book club, and one that I would probably not have selected to read on my own. I may not have been in the right headspace? Found myself drifting off on occasion, and did not really connect with any of the characters at all. Felt very disconnected from it. Maybe if I read it at another time, I would see it differently? 1y
GatheringBooks @quietjenn this is one scene I definitely remembered and paid attention to. Yet the humor is so wry it almost felt like it wasn‘t meant to be comedic at all. 1y
quietjenn @GatheringBooks It's certainly possible. I know I tried to read it when I first got the book - maybe four or five years ago? - and didn't make it further than the first few pages. I'm glad you finished it though and have contributed great points to the discussion! 1y
sisilia I echo @GatheringBooks here. If it‘s not for the bookclub, I‘d probably just DNF this 😢 I saw her other titles in the NYRB Classics catalog, and am reluctant to pick them up after LW 1y
DrexEdit Well, I didn't manage to finish the book on time, but I do like the writing style. It's quiet with a lot going on underneath the surface. I've encountered a few very funny moments so far. I find the humor very dry, just the way I like it. 😄 1y
quietjenn @DrexEdit it‘s a very good match for my sense of humor as well 😅 1y
26 likes13 comments
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quietjenn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Question 4: Lolly (Laura) lives with Henry & Caroline for 20 years before she has her epiphany in the grocery shop, precipitating her announcement that she is moving to Great Mop. Did her announcement surprise you?

#NYRBBookClub

BarbaraBB I admit that it took her quite an amount of time. But then again time flies in this book, we race through Lolly‘s life. 1y
vivastory As I've mentioned, this was a reread. I didn't recall it taking quite as long for her to have her epiphany, but I really appreciated it. In many ways it felt genuine to the situation that women were in at the time. Their freedoms were def constricted by either their spouses or their loved ones. 1y
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quietjenn I agree that it felt genuine and realistic. Although I still found myself thinking, “gosh, it took you long enough!“ But that's coming from a modern day Maiden Aunt who just can't fathom living so long under the obligation of others. 😉 1y
LeahBergen I wasn‘t really surprised as I felt her building up to something big. I would‘ve been more surprised (and disappointed) if she ended up taking no action at all. I was rooting for her! 1y
emilyhaldi It makes sense perhaps in explaining why her life as Lolly is so difficult to discard even after her move. By that point she‘s defined her role in life so firmly that it‘s hard to break free. I‘m sure the time period contributed to this as well… It was so much harder to make a decision of independence like that! 1y
quietjenn @LeahBergen same! 🙂 1y
quietjenn @emilyhaldi love this take on discarding the role of Lolly. You and @LeahBergen are making me re-think my swatting away of the word “steel“! 1y
GatheringBooks I suppose the blurb was a spoiler/giveaway. I was expecting her to do this big reveal way sooner though, but the storyline felt more credible. I was also amazed at her calm and her disposition after learning that her brother “lost” all her money in an unsound investment. OMG. 1y
quietjenn @GatheringBooks yes, I was so infuriated at him, on her behalf. 1y
Billypar Even knowing about the witch thing in advance, I felt like just about every plot twist surprised me, this one included. That's a hallmark of my favorite novels. 1y
Billypar On a sidenote - I very much empathized with how she romanticized the idea of discovering a hidden town with the entire guidebook sequence. I feel like I do a version of that on weekend trips with Google Maps 🙂 1y
quietjenn @Billypar that‘s awesome! I think it‘s something I should try adopting, if only for the occasional weekend 😎 1y
22 likes13 comments
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quietjenn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Question 3: Published in 1926, many reviewers noted the precarious position of women at the time in a post war society. Lolly was an international bestseller upon publication. Do you think this was due to Warner addressing/tackling issues of the patriarchy, or other reasons?

#NYRBBookClub

BarbaraBB I do think so. Her story must have been recognizable for women in Europe where a whole generation of young men died in the war. Women had to find a place and role for themselves and the route that Lolly chooses must have appealed to many. 1y
vivastory @BarbaraBB I agree. Several reviews of LW noted that Warner wrote of a “life of one's own“ years before Woolf spoke of a “room of one's own“. I also think it was a rarely heard story at that time in fiction & offered imaginative possibilities rarely seen in narratives then 1y
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quietjenn @vivastory @BarbaraBB I think that's really key. This book and a few others I've been reading have had me thinking about the Great War and just the staggering loss. 1y
quietjenn @vivastory I saw some of those reviews, with regards to Woolf and definitely think the parallels are interesting. A part of me also kept comparing Clarissa Dalloway in the flower shop with Lolly in the grocery. 1y
vivastory @quietjenn That's a great comparison & I think that Warner would love it. She was an avid reader. One of the books I've heard a lot about as Ive made my way through backlisted archives is 1y
vivastory @quietjenn I don't recall if we talked about it, but they did a great episode about LW on their show 1y
quietjenn @vivastory That will definitely go on the TBR (although maybe not before The Corner That Held Them, since I already own that one). I can't remember either, although I saw a few podcasts about the book, which I wasn't able to listen to. I keep meaning to start Backlisted, because I know I'll love it, but haven't made the time yet. Because I also know I'll probably a) get obsessed and b) want to read a million more things. 1y
vivastory @quietjenn I've definitely become a bit obsessed with Backlisted (although I've taken a bit of a break & am now listening to What Should I Read Next). Their love for the books they're discussing is really infectious. 1y
LeahBergen @quietjenn I have The Corner That Held Them, too, and (seeing how much I enjoyed this one) I‘m looking forward to it even more. 1y
vivastory @LeahBergen I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed this one! 1y
GatheringBooks I love the Q: Dismantle the Patriarchy! 1y
GatheringBooks In her own way, Lolly did just that: attempt to dismantle or discredit the patriarchy - she was even giving the Devil a dressing down, for goodness‘ sakes. I was half expecting a loud spanking to happen. 1y
quietjenn @GatheringBooks right, I almost forgot about that! She addresses him like one of her nieces or nephews. 😆 1y
Billypar I usually don't like it when characters give speeches at the end of novels. But I thought Laura's worked well because it wasn't just an embrace of feminism, but it provided subtle insights into what 'patriarchy' really means. It felt like it put a lot of smaller observations into a cohesive picture, and I think that is probably why the novel resonated with a forward-thinking women and men of the day. 1y
quietjenn @Billypar terrific observation! I‘m so glad you liked the book and added your thoughts! 1y
24 likes16 comments
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quietjenn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Question 2: The title of the book is from the nickname first given to Laura by her young niece. Laura always disliked the nickname. Why would Warner use it as the title of the book?

#NYRBBookClub

vivastory I read in one review that Warner makes the reader complicit in Laura's diminishment by giving the book the title of a nickname that she despised. I thought that was an interesting argument, if not entirely convincing 1y
quietjenn The contrast between Laura and Lolly is one of the things that I find most interesting about the book, although I've always been fascinated by issues related to the roles and identities we all adopt as we make our way through life. To me, Laura feels like the role that feels true to her and who she is when she's able to chart her own course. Lolly is the role that comes at the behest of other people. 1y
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quietjenn And at the end of the day, our lives are never determined solely by ourselves. 1y
vivastory @quietjenn Very well said! I think that's exactly it, it's the pull that Laura feels between obligations towards her family (some of who she clearly loves) & her own independence. 1y
GatheringBooks @quietjenn oooh i love this - the power that names wield: the names given to people and the names people decide to use for themselves for one reason or another. Love this insight concerning the tension within Lolly / Laura and her feeble attempts and fumbling efforts at self-definition. 1y
BarbaraBB Very insightful @quietjenn I think that‘s it! 1y
LeahBergen This is fascinating re: names or titles which mold our character. I was also going to add that “Lolly Willowes” is just a damn intriguing title for a book! 😆 1y
vivastory @LeahBergen I agree that it's a good title! 1y
emilyhaldi @quietjenn nailed it.. and the Lolly persona just seemed to overshadow Laura‘s life no matter how she tried to change identities. Certainly true today in how others influence our own roles in life, but in the 1920‘s so much more so for a woman! 1y
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quietjenn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Question 1: In her essay, Justine Jordan writes, “For there is steel in Lolly Willows, though much of its bite and danger is hidden, even from Lolly herself. There is the ancient power of myth and landscape, the dark woods and lanes through which Lolly blithely strolls and which feel as though they could swallow her up at any moment.“ Do you agree with this statement?
#NYRBBookDiscussion

BarbaraBB I think it was clear from the start that Lolly is not your ordinary spinster. She kept to herself but we knew she had her opinions. To call it steel however seems a bit exaggerated if you ask me. 1y
vivastory I do agree with this statement, esp the second half of it. I think it is the “ancient power of myth & landscape“ that Lolly finds attractive throughout the book, even at the beginning when it speaks about her being on vacation with Henry & Caroline & not being able to go on treks to find her “strange herbs“ because she was stuck taking care of the children 1y
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quietjenn @BarbaraBB yes, I'm not quite sure that steel is the word that I would use! I do think there is a good bit of resolve in Lolly, both at the beginning of her life (before her father's death) and after she decides to move to Great Mop and during events that follow. But that middle, when she is occupying the role of maiden aunt, maybe not quite so much? Those very much feel like “the jetsam years“ to me. But maybe that is when it is hidden! (edited) 1y
Leftcoastzen I‘m not finished yet ! I‘m gonna chime in later. 1y
quietjenn I do appreciate that this take points out the use of myth and landscape. I thought that some of the writing about the geography of the land was quite evocative and I liked the way some of that myth was introduced. I found myself Googling “hen wife“ and then, when the “Lonely Huntsman“ appears, thinking lots about how the Devil has been portrayed in culture and literature. 1y
quietjenn @Leftcoastzen no worries! But do avoid the other tags, in case they are spoiler-y! 1y
vivastory @quietjenn That's a great point about the portrayal of “Lonely Huntsman“ & his portrayal. I also found myself thinking about this. 1y
GatheringBooks I read the penguin modern classics version so did not have a chance to read the essay describing lolly‘s “steel” but I am more with @BarbaraBB here - there is definitely strength of character and resolve as @quietjenn noted - but sadly it appeared fairly late in her life. I felt she was continually under the shadow of her father, then her brothers later on, and the nephew towards the end - despite the attempts to chart her own path 1y
quietjenn @GatheringBooks it did feel like her attempts were being constantly thwarted. When Titus shows up in Great Mop, her anxiety almost felt palpable to me as a reader. 1y
quietjenn @GatheringBooks that's such a pretty edition. I am tempted by the Virago version, just because I'd like to read the introduction by Sarah Waters. I kept finding references to a Guardian essay she wrote about LW, but couldn't find it online anymore and I suspect it might've been taken down to use as that intro? 1y
LeahBergen I actually DO think there was a lot of steel in her. To live uncomplainingly and do her “duty” for 20 years to all of a sudden taking her own life firmly by the reins - these would both take so much inner strength (and especially in the era in which she lived). It almost makes me want to dash off to the bucolic English countryside and join a coven. 🤣 1y
quietjenn @LeahBergen Ha, I feel like I always flirt with that urge (thanks to Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels maybe), so no surprise that I liked this book so much. 1y
GatheringBooks @quietjenn there was no introduction at all in my edition, sadly. 😭😭 1y
batsy I'm sorry that I didn't manage to re-read the book in time for discussion; although it's one of my favourites certain details do escape me. I'm just not in the best headspace for discussions and seem to be craving mindless popcorn reads 🙈 1y
quietjenn @batsy it happens! And that craving is one I'm quite familiar with. 😏 We missed you, but it's totally understandable. 1y
merelybookish Ditto @batsy! I love this book but am out-of-town and didn't get around to revisiting it. 1y
22 likes17 comments
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mklong
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Coffee with Lolly this morning. I hope I finish in time for the chat, but even if not, I‘m so glad we picked this one since this BOTM edition has been staring at me accusingly for at least five years!

#NYRBBookClub

vivastory I hope you can join us! Feel free to chime in late. I'm looking forward to your nominations for the August selection. 1y
mklong @vivastory Oooh fun, I thought @leahbergen was ahead of me in the lineup, but I guess we go by actual names and not handles. Anyway, I‘ll definitely be late now bc my friend who is a bookseller just offered me his ARC of the new Sally Rooney! (edited) 1y
vivastory @mklong Yeah, I organized it by first name & when necessary by last name too. This was to avoid any confusion if someone changed their handle. Ah, nice! Enjoy 🙂 1y
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quietjenn It's such a nice edition! Look forward to your comments whenever you get to them. Enjoy the Rooney! 1y
LeahBergen Don‘t scare me like that. I thought I‘d have to make some panic picks. 🤣 1y
rubyslippersreads I‘m behind on this, but will catch up on the chat when I‘m done. I‘m enjoying it so far. 1y
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DrexEdit
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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When her father died, Laura Willowes went to live in London with her elder brother and his family.

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

review
sisilia
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Mehso-so

2⭐️ It‘s tough to enjoy this book while I still have “Look at Me” hot in my mind. Lolly Willowes is a spinster craving for solitude, and the book keeps circling this theme in the first half that I got bored with it. I totally lost it when witchcraft enters the picture 🤦🏻‍♀️

Cathythoughts Oh dear 🤦🏼‍♀️… I think I‘ll pass on this one for the moment 1y
sisilia @Cathythoughts It could be just me 😄 I highly recommend that Brookner‘s book, though 1y
Cathythoughts 👍🏻 I‘ll definitely be reading the Brookner ❤️ 1y
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sisilia
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Reading Lolly Willowes…. and I‘m bored. I get it, she‘s a spinster who wants to be left alone, but why the part with the cat, the devil etc? 😵‍💫 Anita Brookner‘s “Look at Me” set a high standard for a spinster lit, and I don‘t find it here with Lolly

rjsthumbelina Is it difficult to turn the pages with one of these? 1y
sisilia @rjsthumbelina Not really. The page holder is quite firm and i just use one hand easily 1y
rubyslippersreads Without spoilers for other Littens, should someone (me) sensitive to animals in peril avoid this book? 1y
sisilia @rubyslippersreads Oh, this should be fine for you. This novel is not favorable for those who dislike witchcraft and surrealism 1y
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LeahBergen
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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vivastory I hope that you like it! It's a bit of a slow burn, but I think it pays off 1y
quietjenn Hurrah! Can't wait to hear what you think 🤔 1y
Cathythoughts Lovely picture 💫 1y
Lauram Great picture! 1y
BarbaraBB Enjoy 🍷 1y
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sisilia
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Going to start this….

vivastory Looking forward to your thoughts! 1y
BarbaraBB Me too! 1y
LeahBergen I‘ll be starting soon, too! 1y
56 likes3 comments
review
BarbaraBB
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Mehso-so

The First World War wiped out a generation of young English men and left behind young women, both widows and spinsters, who went in search for a life of their own.
So does Lolly Willowes, who escapes convention by becoming a witch. Doesn‘t that sound great? I think it does, but the book is (some great quotes aside) mainly booooooring.

#NYRBBookClub

LeahBergen Oh no! I haven‘t started it yet. 1y
vivastory 😂 I'm sorry it didn't work for you. 1y
BarbaraBB @LeahBergen Don‘t let me discourage you. @vivastory and @batsy love it! 1y
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BarbaraBB @vivastory It could have been so much better I think. At least it was short 😀 1y
quietjenn Alas! While my take was slightly different than yours, it's true that nothing plays out quite like I expected it to! Hopefully it at least went by relatively quickly (although that might be difficult with boring). 1y
rubyslippersreads I haven‘t started it yet either, but I‘m going to give it a chance. 1y
vivastory It is short. Like @quietjenn I have a different take. I think it'll be an interesting discussion next weekend! 1y
vivastory @rubyslippersreads It's a quick read.. I definitely recommend giving it a shot 1y
BarbaraBB @vivastory @quietjenn I am looking forward to the discussion nevertheless. As I said, the premise is very good and will certainly lead to another great discussion! 1y
AlaMich This is on my TBR because I loved The Corner That Held Them so much. I tend to like boring books, though! 😂 1y
BarbaraBB @rubyslippersreads @alamich You should definitely read it, it is short and well-written. I just could have been better I think 1y
rubyslippersreads @vivastory If you and @batsy both like it, that‘s a good recommendation. 😊 1y
batsy @AlaMich Same! 😂 1y
batsy Ah, that's a shame! This is one of my favourites but I can see it being a fairly meh book for some. 1y
ValerieAndBooks I did like this one, although it was quieter in tone than I expected for a novel about witching! 1y
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Tanisha_A
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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I wasn‘t able to participate in the last NYRB discussion, but hoping to make it to this one!

Sylvia about this book: “I felt as though I had tried to make a sword, only to be told what a pretty pattern there was on the blade”, she wrote to a friend.

#nyrbbookclub

vivastory I'll be curious to see your thoughts on this one. I think you'll love it. 1y
quietjenn What a good quote. Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of this! 1y
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rubyslippersreads I missed the last one too, but I‘ve had this one on my TBR list for years, so I definitely want to join in. 1y
batsy I got myself that edition too ♥️ 1y
LeahBergen @batsy I have the NYRB edition but definitely prefer this one! 1y
Tanisha_A @batsy @LeahBergen Love this cover! 😍 1y
Tanisha_A @rubyslippersreads I have heard so much about it from people, how they adore it. I am excited! 😃 1y
Tanisha_A @vivastory @quietjenn Thank you both, for hosting it! Looking forward. 😊 1y
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vivastory
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Thanks to everyone who chimed in during yesterday's discussion. Although opinion seemed a bit divided, it was a respectful & thoughtful discussion. Thanks to @emilyhaldi for co-hosting. Join @quietjenn & I as we reconvene on 6/26 @ 12 EST to discuss Lolly Willowes. #NYRBBookClub

vivastory Side note: I hate to conflict with the pre-planned #holidayescape but as the following weekend is a holiday weekend in the states it'd be in the middle of July before we could discuss the June book. 1y
emilyhaldi Thanks for cohosting with me!! I gained so much wonderful insight from the discussion yesterday, as expected. Looking forward to June‘s book 😄 1y
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mklong Putting it on my calendar now, so hopefully I‘ll make it to the discussion this time! 1y
BarbaraBB No problem at all Scott, we‘ll have a great Litsy weekend! @Cinfhen 1y
Cinfhen The more the merrier....but poor @BarbaraBB is going to be VERY BUSY 😂😂😂 1y
LeahBergen Looking forward to it (as always)! 1y
sarahbarnes Thanks all for a great discussion on Sunday! Unfortunately I will be out of town on 6/26 so I will miss the next discussion! 1y
vivastory @sarahbarnes I completely understand! If you do read it, I'll be curious to see how you like it 1y
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quietjenn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Decided to go ahead and jump into the next #NYRBBookClub selection, while waiting for my car to be inspected. Only about 30 pages in, but loving it so far!

Therewillbebooks I've been wanting to read this for a while now 1y
vivastory I hope that your car inspection turned out well! I'm going to message you now on GR about discussion date/time for this one 1y
quietjenn @vivastory yep, all is well! And I was almost-but-not quite able to finish (it did take them a little while ...) Will pop over to GR and respond! 1y
quietjenn @Therewillbebooks same! I've had this copy floating around for years, but am so glad I'm finally getting to it. 1y
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sisilia
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Planning for June

EvieBee Anita! She‘s in my June list too. 2y
TheSpineView Looks good!❤📖📚 2y
sisilia @EvieBee Which one will you be reading? 2y
EvieBee @sisilia I can‘t decide! But it‘s looking like Family and Friends because it‘s the only one unpacked 😂🤓 1y
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vivastory
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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As always the nominations were fantastic books & there was even almost a tie! Join @quietjenn & I in June as we read & discuss Warner's entry into #spinsterlit
#NYRBBookClub

batsy Nice! I think this is my excuse to buy a different edition of this book 😆 2y
vivastory @batsy (Insert GIF of Jack Nicholson nodding & smiling in a creepy fashion) 😂 2y
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LeahBergen Yay!! 👍 2y
quietjenn Thanks to everyone for your votes. This has been on my shelf for so long and I'm really excited to read and discuss it with you all! 2y
emilyhaldi I‘ve been meaning to read this for years!! 👍🏻👍🏻 2y
saresmoore Looking forward to it! 2y
sisilia Yay, I‘m excited for this 2y
youneverarrived Looking forward to it 😁 2y
KVanRead Sorry I have been AWOL. The last month has been crazy busy and things are about to get crazier as I am taking the first step in going back to school with ENG 550 - THE RISE OF THE NOVEL. 😱 So all my reading time and then some is going to be spoken for in the month of June. But looking forward to joining you guys again in July! 1y
vivastory @KVanRead That's exciting about school! Congrats! The voting is still open for the July NYRB on @sprainedbrain feed if you want to vote! 1y
KVanRead Thanks!! I‘ll check it out! 1y
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Therewillbebooks
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Trying to narrow this pile down and pick a #botm for March. Yes I know its late but there's still plenty of time. Procrastination!

MsMelissa Into Thin Air is my favourite work of non-fiction. 2y
Therewillbebooks @MsMelissa I've been eyeing that one for a while 2y
Gogobooks Thought ‘lush life‘ was very good 2y
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vivastory
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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For my fellow Lolly fans

Branwen OMG YES! 😍👏👏👏 2y
merelybookish Great story! Stupid response from NYRB Classics. 2y
merelybookish In other words, I care! 😛 2y
vivastory @merelybookish I agree, I thought it was a bit glib 2y
batsy Yes @merelybookish I care, too! Weird response from NYRB. The anecdote though is fab 🙌🏽 2y
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review
ValerieAndBooks
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

This novel about a spinster embracing witchiness was not scary, but definitely very evocative of the seasons and atmospheric. I liked how Laura “Lolly” Willowes stood up for herself and left a stuffy life. This was the first #BOTM offering back in 1926. I feel like I may re-read this next fall. Reasonable length at 222 pages (nice number!).

And every October I use the bookmark @LibrarianRyan made me 🧡

rubyslippersreads I‘ve had this on my TBR list for ages. Maybe this month. 😊 2y
JanuarieTimewalker13 Ooooh!! Such a good book fact!! Stacking! 2y
LibrarianRyan Ahhhh. Thx 2y
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batsy I think I should read this one again soon, too! 2y
LeahBergen @batsy I haven‘t read it yet and keep hoping it gets picked for our #NYRBBookClub! 2y
Cathythoughts Looking forward to it! On my TBR 2y
ValerieAndBooks @rubyslippersreads hope you enjoy it when you get to it! 2y
ValerieAndBooks @JanuarieTimewalker13 and their first book choice was a debut, as well! 2y
ValerieAndBooks @LibrarianRyan no, thank *you* 😊 2y
ValerieAndBooks @batsy @LeahBergen go for it 😆 ! I‘d enjoy all your thoughts on this. 2y
JanuarieTimewalker13 So cool. I may catch you the second reading around...I hope I remember for next year! 2y
ValerieAndBooks @JanuarieTimewalker13 I‘ll try to remember to remind you 😊 2y
JanuarieTimewalker13 Haha!! Thank you!!!🌻 2y
batsy @LeahBergen Ha, it's interesting that it hasn't come up! It's the #spinsterlit novel I wish I'd written 😍😁 2y
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ValerieAndBooks
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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‘ “Now! Now!” said the moon, and plunged towards her through the clouds. ‘

Lolly Willowes is a good read right now! Happy Halloween and happy Blue Moon. Photo taken tonight 🍁🌝🍂

Hooked_on_books Gorgeous photo! 😍 2y
Palimpsest Thanks for sharing this gorgeous photo. It was overcast by me tonight. 2y
LeahBergen The moon was so great tonight! 🖤 2y
Nute Perfect photograph for this specific night! 2y
ValerieAndBooks @Hooked_on_books @Palimpsest @LeahBergen @Nute thanks all! It looks a lot smaller than it really was, because of the camera—but I didn‘t want to crop the picture because I love the trees 😍 2y
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swynn
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Pickpick

I was surprised to learn that the inaugural selection of Book-Of-The-Month Club was a feminist story featuring witchcraft, where Satan appears as a character, whose author was openly bisexual. It holds up pretty well, provided you allow for a narrative more leisurely, a drama more interior, and a prose more crafty than today's fashion. It's like The Awakening, with witchcraft

#Scarathlon 2020 #TeamHarkness 16 pts
@StayCurious #CreatureFeatureThon

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Emilymdxn
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

This was a sweet, clever, gentle but also sharp-tongued novel about a spinster who becomes a witch. It was a perfect book for autumn, very English and perfect for reading with tea. I ❤️ Lolly

#scarathlon2020 #teamharkness @StayCurious +16 pts

batsy One of my favourites 💜 2y
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merelybookish
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Lolly Willowes naming systems of oppression in 1920. (The "them" she is not forgiving is her family.)
This book is amazing!

LeahBergen I‘ve been wanting to choose this one for our #NYRBBookClub! 2y
Cathythoughts I‘ve had this stacked for awhile... Sounds good 👍🏻 2y
batsy It's so brilliant! 2y
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merelybookish @LeahBergen It would be a great one to discuss! I would be curious to read other of her works as well. (If NYRB has published them.) 2y
merelybookish @Cathythoughts It is a very fun, clever book that really nails human behavior. I think you would enjoy! 2y
merelybookish @batsy I'm not done yet but am kind of blown away by how subversive it is! 2y
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KatieDid927
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this! The pace is pretty slow, to the point that some readers may not enjoy the book. The end makes it all worth it for me.

#Screamathon @4thhouseontheleft

j9brown 😍 Felt the same. Overall didn't love the book itself, but the character really stuck with me. 2y
KatieDid927 @j9brown Plus, witchy bits! 2y
swynn Just started this and an enjoying it so far -- glad to read the positive review! 2y
KatieDid927 @swynn No prob! 2y
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merelybookish
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Loving this book, if not its cover.

LeahBergen I think it‘s the same on my newer NYRB, too. 😆 2y
Texreader Oooh creepy cover. 2y
merelybookish @LeahBergen Oh I assumed they would had updated it with something more attractive! This copy is from 1999. 2y
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merelybookish @Texreader Creepy and I find the colour palette pretty bleak. 2y
Texreader @merelybookish Does the cover even portray what the book is about? 2y
batsy It's a very odd cover. However I'm glad that you're enjoying the book! 2y
merelybookish @Texreader Well the main character is a spinster who may have some witchy tendencies? 2y
merelybookish @batsy I love it! It's chock full of brilliant observations about human behavior! 2y
sisilia The original NYRB cover 😻 1y
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AllisonM89
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Mehso-so

I'm not sure what i think of this one. A slow, tedious beginning, but a very interesting ending. I'm glad i read it.

#bookspinbingo @TheAromaofBooks
Square 21 ✔️

TheAromaofBooks I quite like the cover! 2y
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AllisonM89
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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This cover 😍😍😍

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ValerieAndBooks
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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#BOTM arrived yesterday 😍 ! Of these two picks, think I‘ll read Lolly Willowes first.

New puzzle in background is a tough one — shaped borders instead of the typical rectangle.

BekahB I really enjoyed Lolly Willowes! I‘ve been meaning to look for more books by this author. 2y
LeahBergen I have Lolly Willowes waiting on my shelf, too. 👍🏻 2y
AlaMich I don‘t do BOTM, but isn‘t Lolly Willowes a fairly old book? I thought they only did new titles. 2y
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ValerieAndBooks @BekahB the author‘s name feels familiar— need to look her up to see if I read anything by her in the past. 2y
ValerieAndBooks @LeahBergen is yours a first edition or the nyrb edition 😊? 2y
ValerieAndBooks @AlaMich yes they release new titles every month. But they also do “classic” titles now and then. Most of their past titles can be chosen as add-ons. Lolly Willowes was the very first selection of the book-of-the-month club back in 1926, so this is like a re-print in their current logo format. 2y
LeahBergen Just the NYRB, alas! 😆 2y
ValerieAndBooks @AlaMich I should clarify when I say “old titles” of BOTM, it means the ones they‘ve released within the past couple years, not all the ones from way back 😊. 2y
ValerieAndBooks @LeahBergen nyrb editions are still cool to have !! 2y
AlaMich @ValerieAndBooks Ah! That‘s neat that it was the first book they offered. 2y
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review
Hamlet
Lolly Willowes | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Pickpick

I love Warner‘s writing. This story shows us the Victorian & Edwardian ideal of a spinster that lingers into the 1920s; then it undercuts this “ideal” brilliantly. Dutiful Aunt Lolly has a sort of vision, feels a call. She leaves her brother‘s family to live alone and become a witch. Her feel for the natural world & her own power come alive with her conversations with the Devil. It works as pure story and as a metaphor for female empowerment.

batsy Fab review! One of my faves 💜 3y
Hamlet Thanks! 3y
Outermostslp1 Did enjoy this. Not sure why but something about it reminded me of I Capture the Castle, or one of Elizabeth Goudge's works. 2y
Hamlet @Outermostslp1 I haven‘t read that one. I‘ll put it on my list. 2y
13 likes4 comments