Philip's Reviews > South Riding

South Riding by Winifred Holtby
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May 14, 2011

really liked it
Read from May 14 to 22, 2011

I remember noticing this novel when it was reprinted in paperback in the early 1970s to tie in with the popularity of R.F. Delderfield's novels of English Country life in the first half of the 20th century, though only later did I discover that it was actually published in 1936, many years before Delderfield began publishing, and long before the lengthy, epic sagas he was to become known for.

So, reminded of it by the new TV adaptation, I decided to have a go at it - fortunately a copy was still in my Library system. It got off to a slow start, but I'm now 162 pages in and think I'll be seeing it through - Holtby shifts the focus between several characters, their situations, goals, and aspirations, and it's a bit hard at this point to see where it's all going.

5/16: I'm almost halfway through - much like Delderfield did, Holtby jumps around from chapter to chapter, focusing on various people and families who live and interact in the South Riding area - I have little doubt that eventually all the threads will converge at some point. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and unfortunately some of them have very similar names, which makes it a bit difficult.

I've decided that I'll indefinitely avoid the new BBC adaptation which was just shown on PBS and which is to be released here on DVD - most of the comments I've read about it on-line have been unfavorable in comparing it to the book as well as to the previous, longer TV adaptation done in the 1970s - many characters and situations have apparently been omitted.

5/22: A good, solid read, with interesting pockets of emotional impact along the way.

Incidentally, SOUTH RIDING is one of the "Macmillan Spring Novels" advertised on the back panel of GONE WITH THE WIND's original dust-jacket, the first title listed in the right-hand column (above GWTW itself). Of the 15 other novels listed in addition to these two, only other novel is known today - WE THE LIVING, by Ayn Rand, which soon went out-of-print, a casualty of the enormous popularity of GWTW. It did not resurface and gain popularity until Random House republished it in the late 1950s, after the success of Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED. (That "Macmillan Spring Novels" announcement soon disappeared as well, to be replaced by quotes from GWTW's extraordinary reviews.)
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05/16/2011 page 270
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