19 July 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 55

For the longest time, I've been wanting to do some unabashedly romantic reading. I'm explicitly saying so because you'd never know it from what I'm putting forward for the next readalong . . .

Vote for Our August/September Novel!!!

(UPDATE: I just noticed the date and had to change "July/August" to "August/September"!)

Far from the Madding Crowd is Thomas Hardy's only novel with (Spoiler Alert!) a happy ending. I'm not sure how romantic we will find the final pairing, given that we have to get through a love quadrangle first; but I still think it's worth a try because someone told me that this novel is Hardy's meditation on what it means to be English and few things are more lovey-dovey than ethnic existentialism. As for Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, from all accounts I've read, it's basically Pride and Prejudice set during the Industrial Revolution and injected with a social conscience. And later given Richard Armitage as well, so that nobody would miss Colin Firth.

You can pick one of these or you could go for one of my beloved "wildcard" options . . .

Or Our August/September Novels?

These three Historical Romances make up Georgette Heyer's Alistair Audley "trilogy." Compared to Gaskell and Hardy, Heyer writes the fluffiest fluffy fluff. But based on the only novel of hers I've ever read, a "serious" Medieval-set Historical, the woman is no slouch at either writing well or meditating on the meaning of Englishness.

One last thing . . . Any resemblance this post may have to the "I Have No Idea What to Name This" Smackdown Finals post is completely coincidental subconscious. That is, I'm not implying that Chuck Norris and Georgette Heyer have anything in common, but I wouldn't be surprised if I read the three "Alistair" novels and do end up comparing them to the Missing in Action Trilogy. Anything is possible. But I certainly can't promise anything, so please don't vote for them just because you think the subsequent readalong would be a train wreck and you like that sort of thing.

As always, there is no obligation to read along for real. But by voting, you are helping me play a glorified game of eenie-meenie-miney-mo and making me happy before you have to ignore me for your own sanity again. So all comments are welcome! =)

Image Sources: a) Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, b) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, c) These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer, d) Devil's Cub by Heyer, e) An Infamous Army by Heyer


Angie Tusa said...

I'm not familiar with any of these novels, but the description of "fluffiest fluffy fluff" is enough to make me NOT vote for Georgette Heyer. :)

I'm going to go with Far from the Madding Crowd simply because that quadrangle sounds like it could have some nice juicy drama to go along with it.

Enbrethiliel said...


LOL! If it's anything like the movie, then it will certainly deliver the drama. =) Thanks for your vote!

Sully also voted for Far from the Madding Crowd on Twitter. =)

mrsdarwin said...

I vote North and South, because I've read some Hardy and I can take him or leave him alone.

Georgette Heyer was so prolific that her oeuvre can be a mixed bag. I really liked A Civil Contract, which was a surprisingly emotionally astute novel; a few others were, as you say, fluffiest fluffy fluff.

cyurkanin said...

In my opinion, Hardy has always been one of the masters of English lit, however, I think it's time I started repaying Mrs. Darwin for her many deferrals to my lousy movie votes, therefore I stand by whatever Mrs. Darwin votes for (did she really just vote for Heyer over Hardy?...) :)

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Oh man. I'm torn. I've been wanting to read North and South.... but These Old Shades is kind of calling to me. It was my first ever Heyer novel. Just seeing the title takes me back to my senior year of college, sitting on the back porch of our apartment taking turns reading it to each other. What a treat it would be to revisit it. I don't honestly recall if it was fluffy fluff or not.

love the girls said...

Interesting comparison to your last smackdown.

Farm from the Madding Crowd is in my list of not the greatest literature of all time, but one step below. The same as I would place the movie Apocalypse now.

They are one step down in my list of envy.

I envy those who read Far From the Madding Crowd for the first time, but it's a lesser level of envy than of those reading Les Miserable and similar.

And so far North and South has about the same appeal as I would expect from a movie titled bloodfist. Neither one has character development that makes me care about the characters the way Dickens does in his novels or Jane Austin does in hers to a lesser degree.

mrsdarwin said...

Christopher, no! I wouldn't vote for Heyer over Hardy -- Hardy is clearly the superior author. I haven't read Far From The Madding Crowd, so I can't comment on that, but Tess of the D'Ubervilles (read years and years ago) was depressing, and I don't feel like depressing right now. So it's Gaskell (also unread) for me.

Thanks for the echoing vote! Tag-teaming is the way to go.

Bellas Shelf said...

I've been told time and again to read BOTH Hardy and Heyer.
I would have to vote for Hardy. Hardy is on my list of authors to read before I die.

Enbrethiliel said...


Mrs. Darwin -- Given the reviews of Heyer's Romances and the reviews of her Mysteries, I can agree that it'll be hard to judge one of her books by one of the others. But I do think she's a good enough writer for even her fluff to be good fluff. =) Thanks for your vote!

Christopher -- *whispers to self* Lord help me, it's an official tag team! *clears throat* Oh, look: it seems that most of us have Tess of the d'Urbervilles in common!

Melanie -- Whichever you decide to vote for, at least you know you'll have a 67% chance of enjoying the posts no matter which book wins. =)

LTG -- Your comment is as cryptic as it is entertaining. Let me see if I can crack it . . . Since you voted for Apocalypse Now last time, does that mean you're voting for Far from the Madding Crowd this time?

Enbrethiliel said...


Bella -- Thanks for voting!

I've already read some Hardy and some Heyer, but the novels I'm featuring here are arguably different from what I've tried. Really good authors can range far and wide in their writing!

love the girls said...


Aren't we supposed to read the books first before we vote?

Enbrethiliel said...


Not necessarily! Just pick the book which you'd like me to blog about or which you think I'd be better off reading or which has the cooler cover at the moment . . . Any good natured reason will do. =)

(Hmmmm. I wonder who is going to leave the coveted Comment #13 . . .)

love the girls said...

Well in that case, I vote for Far From the Madding Crowd on its name alone. And the book lives up to its title.

And if you ever want to do a post on evil characters fully deserving of being detested. Please include Uriah Heap and Dracula who are both them most loathsome of characters in their own way.

cyurkanin said...

Thanks for straightening me out on which one I (we, Mrs Darwin and I) voted for :) I also like your new "top commenters" format on the sidebar, count this as another step to regaining numero uno.

Sheila said...

Ooh, tough one. I think I would love any of these, though I haven't read any of them. I did watch the miniseries of North and South, though. My in-laws (read: MIL and seven SILs) love it and insisted I watch it to be a real part of the family, and I loved it too. I hadn't thought as much as the time about industrialism as I have since, so I'd be curious to see if I noticed more in it this time. Maybe the book also has more in it.

(Then again, Victorian novels are sometimes not nearly as dramatic and interesting as their miniseries counterparts. The Way We Live Now was a huge disappointment after watching the movie.)

I did love the hero of North and South. I simply can't get excited about a romantic hero who lacks the very essence of manliness ... that is, a JOB. I was happy to find one who actually had a serious purpose in his life.

So, yeah, N&S gets my vote.

Enbrethiliel said...


LTG -- Thanks! =)

Christopher -- Good luck now that Sheila's back. ;-)

Sheila -- For a few seconds, I thought JOB was an acronym, like MIL and SIL--or like the one I'm going to end this sentence with: LOL!

I know that the romantic hero in Far from the Madding Crowd is a farmer, but I really don't know about Alistair and the other male leads in the Georgette Heyer books. Probably not, though. You're reminding me of something I observed about one author of Historical Romances: as much as she liked the courtship rituals of the era she was writing about, she wasn't happy that most of the male leads were landlords who, historically, left the running of their estates to managers and secretaries. She later became famous for writing "working class heroes." On occasion, she will throw a peer into the mix, but she'll also make him an odd duck: say, someone happy to get his hands dirty (even literally!) by investing in a new way of manufacturing trains.

Thanks for voting! =)

cyurkanin said...

Okay, Sheila... it's war...

Enbrethiliel said...


More from Twitter . . .

I don't know if I should count NoelCT's vote for North and South because he tweeted it on the condition that I watch the miniseries. =P

Amy voted for Far from the Madding Crowd. Lots of Hardy fans here!

Voting is now closed. Thanks to everyone who commented or tweeted!