Online Reading Challenge – August

It’s August already, Reading Fans! Time to take a look at our next challenge!

This month we’re exploring the Edwardian Era. Technically, the Edwardian Era lasted from 1901 to 1910, which is the time that Edward VII ruled England following the death of Queen Victoria. However, it is popularly considered to run from the 1890s to the start of World War I in 1914.

The coming of war lends a certain bittersweet feeling to this time period, the last golden days of the English Empire and the innocence that would soon be shattered. The Summer Before the War by Simonson embodies this “on the brink” time beautifully, set in a small English village. Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford is a novel about the intrigues of a wealthy family and their servants (think Downton Abbey). Rutherford Park by Cooke is another English country house family drama set in this time period.

It’s not all about the landed gentry in England though. The Titanic sank in 1912 and there is lots of fiction and non-fiction about the sinking and its consequences. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is gives us a personal account of the disaster and the aftermath when an accomplished seamstress joins a famous fashion designer on the Titanic as her personal maid. Or try A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, a classic about the ships final hours.

Other notable events during this time include the first manned flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (The Wright Brothers by David McCullough) and the golden age of arctic exploration (Shackleton’s Heroes by Wilson McOrst). American classics by E.M. Forster (Howard’s End and A Room With a View) or Edith Wharton (The Buccaneers) are great choices. For mystery lovers, check out the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen.

I am planning on reading The Alienist by Caleb Carr about the beginnings of forensic science set in New York City. This is a little outside of my comfort zone, so we’ll see how it goes!

What about you – what will you be reading this month?

3 thoughts on “Online Reading Challenge – August

  1. To me, P.G. Wodehouse epitomizes the Edwardian Era. I was introduced to his iconic characters Wooster and Jeeves through the side-splitting television adaptation starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. After binging the entire show I wanted more, so I dove headfirst into Wodehouse’s novels, any of which would be an excellent choice for this month.

    For something a little meatier, one could do worse than the Irish masters of prose (James Joyce) and poetry (W.B. Yeats). Although both are counted among the heavyweights of the Modernist movement, they both had their beginnings in the Edwardian Era, Joyce with his fantastic short story collection Dubliners, and Yeats with the epic poem The Wanderings of Oisin. Both of these works are more conventional formally than their authors’ later, better known and more experimental works, but by no means less valuable or rewarding.

  2. I can echo what Wesley said. I loved both the Jeeves and Wooster books and the tv series. Their assumptions about working (or not working, more accurately) and privilege were so foreign to contemporary viewers and readers, yet so hilarious.
    I’m looking forward to reading the suggested “Rutherford Park.”

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