The lovely people of the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics group has come up with a wonderful idea for a read-along next year. For the last two years we have done authors to celebrate their centenaries – Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Pym. However, as 1914 is obviously the centenary of the start of the First World War, the group has selected a number of books relating to the War for their themed read.


Obviously these will be predominantly Virago or Persephone published (as the two do seem to overlap!) and mostly by women (although I did notice Mr. Wells lurking!). What I particularly like about this readalong, having struggled to keep up with the most basic of reading challenges, is the flexibility. The line up is quite fluid, with basically a minimum commitment of a book every two months, and a choice of which one at that!

The line-up as I publish stands like this:

The Beginning of the War (January and February)

Main Book: William an Englishman by Cecily Hamilton (Persephone)
Other possibilities:
Golden Miles by Kathleen Susannah Pritchard (Virago)
Mr Britling Sees it Through by H G Wells (Project Gutenberg)
The Setons by O Douglas (Project Gutenberg)
Reader Recommendations:
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

Fighting: On the Frontline and on the Homefront (March and April)

Main Book: One of Ours by Willa Cather (Virago)
Other possibilities:
Aleta Day by Francis Marion Benyon (Virago)
The War Workers by E M Delafield (Project Gutenberg)
What Not by Rose Macaulay (Project Gutenberg)
Reader Recommendations:
At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller (US title 1st of July)
Strange Meeting by Susan Hill

Dealing With The Human Cost: Nurses and others who cared (May and June)

Main Book: Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
Other possibilities:
We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone
The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker
Diary Without Dates by Enid Bagnold (Project Gutenberg)
Reader Recommendations:
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally

Ambulance Drivers, Pacifists & Conscientious Objectors (July & August)

Main Book: Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith (Virago)
Other possibilities:
The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold (Virago)
Eunice Fleet by Lily Tobias (Honno)
Non Combatants and Others by Rose Macaulay (Capuchin Classics)
Reader Recommendations:

The Consequences of War (September & October)

Main Book: The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (Virago)
Other possibilities:
Home Fires in France by Dorothy Canfield (Project Gutenberg)
Fighting France by Edith Wharton (Project Gutenberg)
In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim (Project Gutenberg)
Reader Recommendations:
Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson

Free Choice/Books you Missed (November & December)
This is the time to read a book you missed, or a book that doesn’t fit into a category nicely.

As you can see, a wonderful choice of books, and I have been raiding my shelves to find out which ones I already have, and so far have done quite well:

Be sure and join in with us if you like, and check out HeavenAli’s introductory post here – it should be a wonderful readalong!

(Themed read graphic courtesy of HeavenAli)