Midweek @ Musings: Elizabeth Taylor December Preview

We are rapidly approaching the end of the Elizabeth Taylor Centenary celebration.  It’s been a great year, reading her novels in order of publication, and discussing them with bloggers from the world over (you can catch up on all of this via the previous link).

December’s events will be hosted here, by a very special guest: Dee from the LibraryThing Virago Group (also known as Soupdragon on Librarything).  Here’s Dee to tell you more about how we met, and what we’ve planned for next month …

Laura has kindly offered me a guest spot on Musings in December, so that I can host the final Elizabeth Taylor Centenary discussions where we will be looking at Blaming, Taylor’s last novel.

Just to introduce myself, I am a forty-something mother of boys, a volunteer coordinator for an advice charity and, of course, a life-long bookworm. I live in East Yorkshire with my husband, two sons and cat.

I “met” Laura through a shared love of reading in general and Virago Modern Classics in particular. I’ve been a VMC fan since my teenage years in the 1980s, when I’d regularly head straight for the rack of green spines at my local library. Elizabeth Taylor, however, did not cross my radar until many years later. Maybe I’d got her confused with the actress, maybe I’d been put off by the unfair descriptions of her as a genteel ladies writer or maybe I’d just never heard of her.

In any case, this all changed in 2008 when I joined the ReadItSwapIt site in the hope of saving money by swapping books instead of buying them. (It didn’t work, of course. I just started swapping books as well as buying them). Perusing the list of titles offered by a swapper after an early Sue Grafton paperback of mine, I noticed a Virago Modern Classic called Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor. ReadItSwapIt handily provides direct links to Librarything for information on each book mentioned. Not only did that link persuade me that yes, I would like to exchange Sue Grafton for Elizabeth Taylor but it was the door to a whole new world. I soon discovered the joys of cataloguing every book I owned on Librarything and, even better, I met a whole community of lovely, like-minded and eloquent readers at the Virago forum. From my earliest days at Librarything, Laura was warm and welcoming and we soon discovered a wide range of shared bookish interests, not only Virago related!

A link on Laura’s profile led me to Musings, the first book blog I’d seen and then to many more. I now have a long list of bookmarked book blogs, should I ever need more literary inspiration!

I am delighted to have the opportunity to host the final Centenary discussions and am really looking forwarding to sharing my thoughts on Blaming and to hearing everyone else’s thoughts.

I’ll just say for starters, that there is all the usual subtlety, understatement, hidden emotional depth and moments of dark, unexpected humour that we have come to expect from Taylor. I also found it to have a particular mood all of its own. Please do join in with December’s read and let us know what you think!


Enter to win a copy of Nicola Beauman’s biography, The Other Elizabeth Taylor!

Click here for details.  The giveaway ends Friday, November 23 at 5pm US EST.

3 thoughts on “Midweek @ Musings: Elizabeth Taylor December Preview

  1. Hello Dee (and Laura) great to see you guesting on Musings. I am really looking forward to re-reading Blaming. Before I get around to it though I am intending to re-read At Mrs Lippincotes. When the Virago group when that one back in January I didn’t join in -as it had only been a year since I read. Now I wished I had, as I realise that I have joined in with all the rest, and so if I re-read At Mrs Lippincotes and Blaming next month I will have read all 12 of Elizabeth Taylor’s novels in 2012. This has been such a joy, I already feel I will miss dear Elizabeth enormously next year – so I am saving some short stories to read in 2013.
    Incidently I must just say that I have found the Librarything Virago group to be one of my favourite places on the internet. I am always being introduced to wonderful books, while engaging with like minded people – who are constantly showing themselves to be caring and generous.

    • Ali, I’ve saved the short stories as well. I will be sad to say good-bye to dear Liz. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this year of reading so much, and I agree completely about the lovely Virago group.

  2. Hello Ali (and Laura!), thank you for visiting me on my first ever blog spot. I read Mrs Lippincote’s a few months after everyone else and loved it. Somehow I thought it might be obvious that it was a first novel but of course, it wasn’t at all.

    Ali, I think that like me, you’ve read the short stories in The Blush and weren’t they wonderful? Knowing all those short stories are waiting does make it a bit easier to say goodbye to the novels. Oh, and I do still have A Game of Hide and Seek to read too. Wonder if I can squeeze that in before the end of the year…

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