South Riding

South Riding (Virago Modern Classics)

Let’s not get too carried away here. The 500+ pages of tweener life (in between the wars) in a village in England are of occasional interest but such melodrama! A spinster headmistress (Sarah Burton) comes to take over the local school, working wonders, butts heads against the landed gentry, falls in love with said gentry (Robert Carne) who is busy selling off his ancestral goodies to pay for fancy treatment for his mad wife. There’s a cast of supporting characters, old Mrs. Beddows the woman Alderman being top of the list and most fleshed out. The others just are scarecrow versions of characters who dance and frolic and do as you’d expect. That’s perhaps the most disappointing part, nothing is unexpected here. Except perhaps the death of Carne 100 pages from the end, failing to consummate the romance with Burton. I see that VW shared this opinion, saying of the book, “One’s never pulled up by a single original idea.”

Entirely skippable, though some weirdos have likened it to Middlemarch.