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South Riding This is Winifred Holtby s greatest novel A rich evocation which explores the lives and relationships of the characters of South Riding Sarah Burton, the fiery young headmistress of the local girls school Mrs Beddows, the district s first alderwomen based on Holtby s own mother and Robert Carne, the conservative gentleman farmer locked in a disastrous marriage with whom the radical Sarah Burton falls in love Showing how public decisions can mould the individual and strongly echoing Middlemarch, South Riding offers a panoramic and unforgettable view of Yorkshire life ➹ [Read] ➵ Gender in Psychoanalytic Space By Muriel Dimen ➼ – 9facts.co.uk the fiery young headmistress of the local girls school Mrs Beddows ❮Download❯ ➵ Insight and Interpretation Author Roy Schafer – 9facts.co.uk the district s first alderwomen based on Holtby s own mother and Robert Carne ➼ [Reading] ➾ Good People in an Evil Time By Svetlana Broz ➱ – 9facts.co.uk the conservative gentleman farmer locked in a disastrous marriage with whom the radical Sarah Burton falls in love Showing how public decisions can mould the individual and strongly echoing Middlemarch ❰Reading❯ ➼ On a Day Like This Author Peter Stamm – 9facts.co.uk South Riding offers a panoramic and unforgettable view of Yorkshire life


10 thoughts on “South Riding

  1. Emma Rose Ribbons Emma Rose Ribbons says:

    So this is one of Those Books For me, there are two categories of books Those that change your life, those which you started in a certain way and ended up changed when closing them Such books are rare and precious And then there are the ones that make you feel as if the author had extended a hand and held yours, that for the duration of your reading, you found a mirror so perfect it validated everything you d been and everything you wished to be This is such a book It s about the value of So this is one of Those Books For me, there are two categories of books Those that change your life, those which you started in a certain way and ended up changed when closing them Such books are rare and precious And then there are the ones that make you feel as if the author had extended a hand and held yours, that for the duration of your reading, you found a mirror so perfect it validated everything you d been and everything you wished to be This is such a book It s about the value of education, the value of change How in order to inspire, you need to be inspired It s about happiness and fulfillment and about responsibility and choices It s also about Sarah Burton who s probably the best character I ve ever encountered in all of literature I don t even know where to begin except that I hope I m her and I want to be her when becoming myself That is all I realise I haven t talked about the book much so here s a quote This is why this book is special, because it s about this We re so busy resigning ourselves to the inevitable that we don t even ask if it is inevitable We ve got to have courage, to take our future into our hands If the law is oppressive, we must change the law If tradition is obstructive, we must break tradition If the system is unjust, we must reform the system Suffice it to say I ve probably been looking for this book my whole life Well here it is Finally


  2. Jan-Maat Jan-Maat says:

    Describing a book as the great novel of 1930s English local government and regional newspapers, is not the most ringing of endorsements Another way to approach this mosaic novel is to, with slight misdirection, describe it as another modern Jane Eyre, or properly speaking Holtby plays with some tropes of Romantic fiction and it occurred to me particularly given my vast, rich knowledge of romantic fiction that the trail ran quickly to Miss Eyre and her not so demonic lover Mr Rochester.In plac Describing a book as the great novel of 1930s English local government and regional newspapers, is not the most ringing of endorsements Another way to approach this mosaic novel is to, with slight misdirection, describe it as another modern Jane Eyre, or properly speaking Holtby plays with some tropes of Romantic fiction and it occurred to me particularly given my vast, rich knowledge of romantic fiction that the trail ran quickly to Miss Eyre and her not so demonic lover Mr Rochester.In place of Eyre and Rochester we have Miss Sarah Burton MA the tall, dark and handsome presumably with his own teeth view spoiler having your own teeth is important, just try to imagine the story of little red riding hood with false teeth view spoiler why Granma what big teeth you have All the better to take them out to clean them at night my dear hide spoiler hide spoiler Robert Carne Representing the eternal battle between Sarah Burton and the spiritual ideals of progress, education, leading forth into a world of Enlightenment versus Carne representing the fleshly principles of paying less tax, the natural rhythms of the agricultural world, the fleeting earthly pleasures of wielding sharp agricultural implements to get the harvest in and Angina Pectoris Both Carne and Rochester have mad first wives, Carne in this book has outsourced her care to a nursing home, rather than using thetraditional attic and gin sozzled nurse, both have daughters, both of whom are treacherously inclined to foreign countries one to France, the other to Shropshire which for non Britons is certainly not Yorkshire, and this is a fairly out and proud YORKSHIRE FIRST novel Both books shared a notion of hereditary and particularly of decay, in Jane this comes from race or nation, here instead it is vested in social status, it is the titled aristocracy who are polluted and polluting, nothing apparently can be done for them, apart from to keep them eventually in care homes, they are essentially too high strung, over sensitive, incapable probably of truly appreciating a proper cup of tea.Even though the relationship between Burton and Carne plays with some classic tropes they start as enemies, then grow to hate each other before their eyes met across a pregnant heifer, before she in her glad rags, help him to deliver the calf like I said this is a Yorkshire novel with proper no nonsense Yorkshire women, her father was a blacksmith and her mum a midwife so naturally she can deliver calves while not sober and on her way home from a party.But swiftly one has to admit to Holtby s subversive drive, once the hopeless science teacher Miss Agnes Sigglesthwaite BSc has resigned and finds alternative employment as a ladies companion reading romantic fiction to her chair bound employer, Miss Burton MA, Headmistress extraordinaire amuses herself with the thought of Sigglesthwaite stumbling in her reading over unfamiliar words for varieties of Ladies underwear not within the vocabulary of a 1930s maiden school teacher However Miss Burton s underwear will be likewise appraised and appreciated but not a lover but an awestruck pupil, and when she does win a night with the saturnine and manly Carne, they have a few pages together brilliant to the reader but not so for them Carne view spoiler nomen est omen hide spoiler represents both the temptations of the flesh, and the way of all flesh, Miss Burton true to her calling to be a reforming and energetic headmistress of a girl s senior school, represents the spirit, though admittedly a spiritual being who nonetheless requires underwear and appropriate overwear Her long term reaction to a night of dancing and seduction somehow goes beyond subversion to both reject the conventions of a romantic novel but embracing the role of love in a human heart in afundamental way This is a big fat, life affirming book, but also one that is full of death The shadow of the first world war falls over most of the pages and the shadow of the next war falls over many of the others There is the continual sense of the men left in France, then the survivors men altered in body and soul by their experience, and the women who have to deal with them or do without out them there is a sense of how the unmarried order of schoolmistresses is one that is entered into as much as a practical response to there not being men to marry as in response to a vocation to a higher calling.Subversion is also there in other ways, one of the charms of the book are the relationships between women, particularly between Sarah Burton and elderly Alderman Emma Beddows Sarah buttonholes Emma to try and rescue one of her school girls Lydia Holly Sarah thinks she is is a brilliant child full of promise but which will be wasted as since her mother has died she will be dragged from school to become principal carer for her younger siblings the father is a charming rascal who can barely hold down a job let alone run a household Sarah has a plan which she persuades Emma to help deliver, but here subversion on the part of the author The women work together to rescue the girl and give her a chance at life, but in the end she is saved from the housework by the most traditional method possible her Father deploys his charm and finds a new wife Don t look a gift horse in the mouth, Holtby seems to say One woman s opportunity may come at another woman s cost, but life is not a simple matter of bookkeeping Aside from subversion the novel is about Public service and vocation, perhaps I might better say service as self actualisation, or maybe the other way round This isn t a conventional novel, but a mosaic, you could plot it out on paper, drawing Venn diagrams it would be interesting to see the many many characters who don t come into direct contact with other other, instead Holtby presents with dozens, maybe even a gross of situations, certain of which overlap or interlock like cogs and give an impression of life in her fictional South Riding of Yorkshire, you could grab two copies of the book and attack them with scissors and a pot of glue and recreate the novel as a set of short stories in a common setting instead, there are so many situations and hub characters that in a five hundred give or take page novel, no one story would actual be that long, even those of Sarah Burton idealistic headteacher returning to her home country or Emma Beddows long standing Alderman on the local council or Robert Carne slowly failing gentleman farmer Because of this pattern we are pushed away from identifying with any one character and obliged to look for their connections instead and we have to accept that some things are happening off the page for characters that might be alluded to in some narratives, but not shown directly to the reader It is plainly farsophisticated and ambitious than say The Citadel and not a monotone like Keep the Aspidistra Flying, the effect is ambiguous and complex The other book to compare it with I feel is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie which takes a similar them the superfluous woman of the inter war years devoting herself to the education of girls in an ideal direction, but interprets it from a much darker viewpoint, as one might expect from Muriel Spark Nothing inSouth Riding though is completely straightforward either The nearest thing to wickedness in the book are the shenanigans of Alderman Snaith, a strange businessman, apparently sexual abused as a boy by a group of men who is adapt at manipulation particularly of Councillor Huggins, skirt chaser and Methodist Lay preacher Snaith s scheme to push for the building of a road through a tract of wetland to allow for a housing development and subsequent and not irrelevant changes in land values provides the momentum for a unifying theme and movement in the novel as a whole The scheming is self serving, but will also provide positive opportunities for others, including heroic Miss Sarah Burton MA, but we also see that Snaith and Huggins are not just greedy or evil, Huggins is sexually frustrated by his wife s hairnet view spoiler a motiv that seems to pop straight from the sagas the magic hairnet of sexual frustration hide spoiler while Snaith has false teeth and we see him gasping and overwhelmed by emotion, he plainly is a damaged and complex individual, his sybaritic indulgences of softened water and scented soap suggest an unyorkshireness amusing to behold.A few passages pointed towards some of the ideas that Holtby was playing with in her bookwe need courage, not so much to endure as to act All this resignation stunts us We re so busy resigning ourselves to the inevitable, that we don t even ask if it is inevitablep.197 , here the idea of the pursuit of fulfilment of personal capacity in the form of education Sarah Burton versus the higher Providence Emma Beddows is connected with the central thought of does one work to transform systems radically like Snaith building his road and housing estate, and in the process maybe enriching speculators and corrupt politicians or does one work within existing systems and attempt to ameliorate and soft the edges of great human suffering as Alderman Astell on the public Assistance committee wondersHe should be up, away, fighting to change the system, not content to render first aid to its victimsp.293 , the problem Holtby suggests is of the whole of society as Emma Beddows prepares for Christmas the narrative voice interjectsThe indictment of a social system lay in those drawers if they but knew it a system which overworks eight tenths of its female population, gives the remaining two tenths so little to do that they must clutter the world with useless objectsp.380 knitted bed jackets, imitation fruits, lampshades, painted vases etc , the diverted passions of Sarah Burton into education or of Alderman Beddows into the local council suggest a way forward, social change eventually leading towards a society that if not good for all is at least better.Although a maid is described as being trilingual speaking BBC English to her employer, cinema American with her friends and dialect to the milkman The language of the novel is almost entirely standard British English.Remarkably this novel was completely shortly before Holtby s own death, she imagines vividly the lives and potentials of characters far older and worn than she would ever be herself


  3. Paul Paul says:

    This is Winifred Holtby s last novel and she wrote knowing of her own imminent death It is both vast and narrow in its scope at the same time Its length and the varied and large array of characters reminded me of Victorian novelists like Eliot and Dickens There are over 160 characters in the character list It is set in Yorkshire in a fictional South Riding The geographical area is the one Holtby grew up in and is in actuality the East Riding of Yorkshire, the area just north of the Humber c This is Winifred Holtby s last novel and she wrote knowing of her own imminent death It is both vast and narrow in its scope at the same time Its length and the varied and large array of characters reminded me of Victorian novelists like Eliot and Dickens There are over 160 characters in the character list It is set in Yorkshire in a fictional South Riding The geographical area is the one Holtby grew up in and is in actuality the East Riding of Yorkshire, the area just north of the Humber centred on the city of Hull Kingsport in the book an area I know well Holtby captures the area well, the people and its geography Holtby was a committed pacifist, socialist and feminist, a close friend of Vera Brittain She has thrown everything into this novel as you would if you knew your time was limited The novel looks at change old and new ways of doing things and the tensions attendant with that It is partly based on Holtby s mothers experience as an alderman and on her experience of local government her mother opposed her writing the novel The main protagonist of the novel is Sarah Burton, newly appointed headmistress of a girl s school, moving back to the area of her birth she is 40, single, a socialist and committed to the education of women Robert Carne is a gentleman farmer, struggling to make ends meet because his wife is in an asylum an expensive one and trying to bring up his daughter alone He is conservative, reactionary, enamoured of the old ways of farming, a keen hunter and essentially patriarchal There are a large number of significant characters and the main characters don t appear in large portions of the novel All of the characters are well drawn they all have significant faults and failings The alert amongst you will have noticed something about the two main characters a touch of the Jane Eyre s perhaps I m sure this isn t a coincidence and among the many strands in the novel is a reworking of the Jane Eyre Rochester relationship The complexities and frustrations of English local government are writ large Without emotion, without haste, without even, so far as Lovell could discern, any noticeable interest, the South Riding County Council ploughed through its agenda The General mumbled the clerk shuffled papers, the chairman of committees answered desultory questions This enables Holtby to deal with the issues she felt were important education, public health and the eradication of treatable diseases, ignorance, poverty and unemployment It also allows Holtby to explore the irritations and corruptions inherent in the system and she does so with a good deal of relish The secondary characters are also well drawn and not there to make up numbers Holtby illustrates one of her primary beliefs We are all member of one another and writes it large here Holtby provides no neatly tied ends and happy endings and her characters sometimes have a difficult time of it, but there is still running through a sense of the need for the struggle to improve the lot of people especially through socialism and feminism it isn t a depressing book Holtby deals with difficult subjects The history of Robert Carne s wife and her internment in an asylum is very much the way the middle classes dealt with mental ill health Holtby makes even her less savoury characters human with likeable qualities, but she leaves the reader to judge the other characters not knowing all the picture make their own mistakes In this context with Carne there is one piece of information, a marital rape, which the reader knows eventually , but no one else does It s a telling piece of writing and makes the reader thoroughly uncomfortable one knows a secret and nothing can be done with it Holtby is perceptive in her understanding of male sexuality This is a tour de force and a great novel


  4. Sarah Sarah says:

    It is 1932 and Sarah Burton returns to Yorkshire as a newly appointed headmistress with a gift to teach and a desire to awaken interest in her young pupils She brings courage and optimism along with a feisty and impetuous nature Sarah finds her new role in the small town challenging as she encounters town politics and staff problems Her set plans are disrupted and she becomes uncertain of her future.Holtby writes wonderfully on local government issues and town hierarchy Her characters are se It is 1932 and Sarah Burton returns to Yorkshire as a newly appointed headmistress with a gift to teach and a desire to awaken interest in her young pupils She brings courage and optimism along with a feisty and impetuous nature Sarah finds her new role in the small town challenging as she encounters town politics and staff problems Her set plans are disrupted and she becomes uncertain of her future.Holtby writes wonderfully on local government issues and town hierarchy Her characters are sensitive and well rounded They cover a wide social range, but share a common love for their rural community Ambitions, hypocrisy, triumphs and failures are shared amongst the people of South Riding and their moments of passion, tragedy and hope strengthen their bonds as they face a world that is on the brink of change


  5. Emma Deplores android-point-of-sale-2018.info Censorship Emma Deplores android-point-of-sale-2018.info Censorship says:

    I m going to go out on a limb and say this is the best classic novel you ve never heard of Correct me if I m wrong.This book is set in the early 1930s in the fictional South Riding of Yorkshire It s an ensemble piece, structured around the activities of local government and the ways they intersect with the characters lives Most versions of the cover feature Sarah Burton, the fiery, progressive new headmistress at the local girls school, and she s one of the most important characters, but th I m going to go out on a limb and say this is the best classic novel you ve never heard of Correct me if I m wrong.This book is set in the early 1930s in the fictional South Riding of Yorkshire It s an ensemble piece, structured around the activities of local government and the ways they intersect with the characters lives Most versions of the cover feature Sarah Burton, the fiery, progressive new headmistress at the local girls school, and she s one of the most important characters, but there are others the elderly alderwoman, Mrs Beddows the gentleman farmer, Robert Carne, and his troubled daughter, Midge the bright but impoverished teenager, Lydia Holly the hedonistic but devout preacher, Councillor Huggins South Riding follows these characters andit s a story about an entire community over two years, with chapters alternating among various characters.There s a lot going on in this book, and Holtby has a clean style that keeps the story moving and focused on the most interesting moments in the characters lives I ve seen this book criticized for the space devoted to mundane aspects of adult life the book focuses as much on the characters working lives as their personal ones but that s one of the reasons I loved it It avoids well trodden novelistic paths most of the characters are middle aged or older, and first love doesn t appear even as a subplot In large part it s a novel about work and why it matters anyone who hopes to make a difference with their career will empathize with Sarah Burton s struggle to make a difference in her school and her occasional doubts about whether her work is important enough in the scheme of things.But there are many poignant and relatable stories that come out of the characters relationships with their work, from the sad case of Agnes Sigglesthwaite, who meant to be a researcher but wound up a miserable science teacher, to the fervent socialist Joe Astell, who takes a cushy job on the county council due to illness and sometimes has trouble relating to the very people he s trying to help On the whole it s a positive and hopeful book, but there is a lot of illness and dying here the author was terminally ill when she wrote it, and it s hard not to imagine something of Holtby in Astell, who is desperate to accomplish his work before illness keeps him from it On the other hand, one of the saddest subplots deals with Lily Sawdon she is one of the few characters with no real occupation, and perhaps as a consequence, decides her duty as a wife is to hide her sickness from her husband, even at the expense of getting treatment.South Riding is a character driven book, and works brilliantly, because the characterization is brilliant Holtby has the gift of creating fully formed, memorable characters within just a few pages, characters with all the complexities and foibles of real human beings, and at the same time, people who are easy to sympathize with and like Sarah Burton is especially memorable she s a spinster in her late 30s, but she s not a damaged or pitiable figure she s energetic and optimistic, sociable and engaged with other people Also a standout is Mrs Beddows as the South Riding s first female alderman, she s expected to be colorful and allows people to believe outlandish stories about her, but in reality she sconventional than that, a worldly wise grandmother who finds happiness through community involvement and through the attention of Robert Carne, whom she views as a combination of attractive male friend and spiritual son in law I could go on to describe most of the cast, because they are all excellently realized characters drawn with exceptional psychological insight, but nothing I say will do Holtby s writing justice.Another amazing thing about this book is just how modern it feels, despite being published in 1936 By virtue of its focus on interesting, varied female characters as well as interactions among them it s one of the most feminist novels I ve read, and indeed Sarah s feminism would need little updating for the 21st century An author writing this story today would no doubt be condemned as anachronistic, but since it really is an old book, I m happy to praise it for being just as relevant now as when it was written The same goes for the politics This isn t a book about politicking, but it is a story involving local government during a time of economic depression, and Holtby s progressive beliefs do shine through in the way the characters think about their world and the effects of their decisions For me that s a plus literature should deal with big ideas, and the structure of society and purpose of government are certainly that The fact that these topics are controversial means authors should engage with them, not ignore them.I do have one issue with the book that bears mentioning The plot doesn t fit together quite as well as most ensemble pieces Holtby perhaps got a little carried away with her ability to write great characters, and spent disproportionate time on some secondary players Alfred Huggins is the chief offender here I ve called him a protagonist above, because of the number of chapters starring him, but he has little interaction with or impact on any of the others , followed by the Sawdons Also, I doubt many people will read South Riding for its language alone Holtby has the good journalist s ability to get to the heart of the matter without excess verbiage, but her use of words is rarely memorable.In sum, an excellent book, and one that spoke to me muchthan classics usually do I ll be keeping a copy on my shelf, and I hope some of you will give it a try too Please don t be intimidated by the character list at the beginning of the BBC edition It includes everybody who s ever mentioned in the book, but you won t have to remember all of them


  6. Catie Catie says:

    Absolutely adored, enjoyed and loved this book If you enjoy sweeping English novels with a pastoral setting and social commentary this book is definitely for you Much like Middlemarch by George Eliot and The Warden by Anthony Trollope Which commentate on social institutions such as church, and small town government I would argue, South Riding falls into the same category.Richly written, with characters that come to life, this book, although a little slow at times, has quickly become a favori Absolutely adored, enjoyed and loved this book If you enjoy sweeping English novels with a pastoral setting and social commentary this book is definitely for you Much like Middlemarch by George Eliot and The Warden by Anthony Trollope Which commentate on social institutions such as church, and small town government I would argue, South Riding falls into the same category.Richly written, with characters that come to life, this book, although a little slow at times, has quickly become a favorite of mine.I especially am intrigued by the personal life of the author A note on the author reveals that Winifred Holtby led a short life and passed away one year before the publication of South Riding Her good friend Vera Brittain, whom she met in college, wrote about their close friendship in her book Testament of Friendship 1940 Having researched a bit about Holtby and Brittain a lives, especially during the First World War South Riding, its themes in particular those towards the end of the book became evenmeaningful and deep to me This is one book that I believe, regardless of the number of re reads will continue to reveal rich new layers and meaning for the reader


  7. JacquiWine JacquiWine says:

    Set in a fictional district of Yorkshire in the early 1930s, South Riding is an epic, life affirming novel which explores issues of poverty, social mobility and the value of education On one level, it is an ensemble piece structured around the workings of local government, their impact on the district of South Riding and the people who live there It is also a feminist book, one concerned with the destinies of women from different points along the social spectrum, both young and old Perhaps un Set in a fictional district of Yorkshire in the early 1930s, South Riding is an epic, life affirming novel which explores issues of poverty, social mobility and the value of education On one level, it is an ensemble piece structured around the workings of local government, their impact on the district of South Riding and the people who live there It is also a feminist book, one concerned with the destinies of women from different points along the social spectrum, both young and old Perhaps unsurprisingly, I loved this thoroughly absorbing novel, a definite five star read for me.To read my review, please visit


  8. Beth Bonini Beth Bonini says:

    Fantastic saga set in 1930s Yorkshire.The book is chockful of political and social drama with truly memorable characters.Like the important women in the book Sarah Burton, the Headmistress and Mrs Beddows, the Alderman I was obsessed with Robert Carne Symbol of a previous age, so noble and tragic The entire book rang true, even if it did describe a world unfamiliar to me.I would happily read it again Like all of the great novels, there is so much in it one could hardly grasp it all Fantastic saga set in 1930s Yorkshire.The book is chockful of political and social drama with truly memorable characters.Like the important women in the book Sarah Burton, the Headmistress and Mrs Beddows, the Alderman I was obsessed with Robert Carne Symbol of a previous age, so noble and tragic The entire book rang true, even if it did describe a world unfamiliar to me.I would happily read it again Like all of the great novels, there is so much in it one could hardly grasp it all on an initial reading


  9. Katie Katie says:

    South Riding is set in Yorkshire in the first half of the 1930 s, focusing on the everyday lives of the people who live there There is Sarah Burton, the new headmistress of the girls school who returns to the area armed with progressive ideas and is determined to make a difference there is Mrs Beddows, the council s only female alderman who is torn between her desire for progress and her personal loyalties and there is Robert Carne, staunch proponent of the old ways, desperately trying to ca South Riding is set in Yorkshire in the first half of the 1930 s, focusing on the everyday lives of the people who live there There is Sarah Burton, the new headmistress of the girls school who returns to the area armed with progressive ideas and is determined to make a difference there is Mrs Beddows, the council s only female alderman who is torn between her desire for progress and her personal loyalties and there is Robert Carne, staunch proponent of the old ways, desperately trying to care for his mad wife and fragile daughter while not losing his tenuous hold on his lands The book chronicles their struggles, sometimes against each other, sometimes alongside one another for a common cause, and those of a whole host of other characters.The cast of this novel is huge, withthan a hundred characters listed handily after the introduction , but it never feels overpopulated or confusing In fact, they are what makes South Riding such a great read I felt as though I knew each and every one of those characters, even if we only had a nodding acquaintance It is testament to Winifred Holtby s writing skill that she manages to create such a wide variety of characters with equal authenticity I believe in Midge Carne, who is young, female, highly strung and unthinkingly cruel, just as much as I believe in Castle, who is an elderly, male, gentle salt of the earth type I particularly liked the fact that no character is as straightforward as they at first seem, and not in a gimmicky everyone has a dark secret way, but in a these are all real people with depth way They aren t defined by their quirks, but these help to gain a deeper insight into the characters and why they behave the way they do Councillor Snaith at home with his cats was a particular favourite of mine.A wide range of characters means a wide range of relationships, and here too Winifred Holtby excels Whether two people are cooperating or at loggerheads they always act in a way that is so appropriate and well described that I experienced everything along with them Tom and Lily s relationship broke my heart time and time again, and they are relatively minor characters if there can be said to be such a thing in this novel Not only does she write scenes tightly focused on one individual or group, she also writes the best, most effective crowd scenes I ve ever read The outside performance put on by Madam Hubbard s girls, at which cast and audience alike spendtime focusing on their own individual thoughts and agendas than the show, is an absolute masterpiece Her writing reveals a wealth of life experience put to very good use I also appreciated the fact that, although people struggle and fight with one another, there is no cruel, cackling villain in this book The characters go through hard times and experience tragedy, but that is because life is hard rather than because someone is plotting against them Harvests fail so people lose their money People become sick and, because they are poor, they die It s all very matter of fact and realistic This may make the novel sound rather bleak, and it s definitely not without its bleak moments, but there is also a great deal of comedy in this book There is stoicism but there is also humour the people of South Riding endure hardships and they do so with a shrug and a grin Despite some of the tragedies that occur, Holtby never allows characters to wallow or the tightly controlled plot to spiral into melodrama, which I find only adds to the pathos I m sad to leave South Riding and it s definitely a novel that I ll be rereading in the future


  10. Ali Ali says:

    First published in 1936 this is a marvelously femenist novel Set in the fictional South Riding, with much of the story concerning local poitics, and the different characters and factions associated with the county council, alongside other local people There is a large cast of characters, at the centre of which is Robert Carne, landowner and councillor, Sarah Burton, a new headmistress for the high school, and Mrs Beddows 72 Alderman, and great friend of Carne Mrs Beddows a truly marvelous c First published in 1936 this is a marvelously femenist novel Set in the fictional South Riding, with much of the story concerning local poitics, and the different characters and factions associated with the county council, alongside other local people There is a large cast of characters, at the centre of which is Robert Carne, landowner and councillor, Sarah Burton, a new headmistress for the high school, and Mrs Beddows 72 Alderman, and great friend of Carne Mrs Beddows a truly marvelous character seems to be a portrait at least in part of Winifred Holtby s mother, herself a local councillor who became like Mrs Beddows the first woman Alderman.This novel is actually quite sad, although there are many uplifting moments too Winifred Holtby was uncompromising in her portrayal of life as it was in the 1930 s, both socially and politically We see the few chances given to women and the sacrifices made by many bright young girls, the hardship and the poverty and the desperation of those finding themselves in difficulty There is a conspiracy of corruption at the council, backbiting and gossip, all of which help to bring a good man down The poignant story of Sarah and Robert Carne is the one at the centre of the novel, is wonderfully romantic on the one hand without ever descending into sentimentality Alongside that story though we that of Lydia Holly whose family live in the shacks a group of old railway carriages, Lydia dreamsof scholarship and learning Carne s daughter Midge the same age as Lydia but from a very different background is rather wild, her mother is in a mental hospital, for a time the girls come togther under the watchful eye of the new headmistress Sarah Burton Meanwhile at the Nag s head, Tom Sawdon is unaware of his wife s illness So much human drama in just under 500 pages A fantastic read


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