Sunday, 30 January 2011

Pirates at Play: First Impressions (Virago Reading Week)

The first ever Virago Reading Week is almost over and, I don't know about you, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  Thank you again to Carolyn and Rachel for organising this and making it happen.  Their roundup posts were a delight to look forward to each day and I have enjoyed reading fellow bloggers' reviews and thoughts on Viragos.  I look forward to participating again the next time around!  I think you will all agree that it was a howling success. 

I've done quite a bit of reading this week... two Viragos, my first Lord Peter Wimsey (continued a few chapters in a coffee shop when I was without a Virago) and today I decided to start on my third Virago of the week, Pirates at Play.  I will hopefully be finishing this during the coming week but I thought I'd make a few notes of my impressions so far.

I picked up this book in a second-hand store because of the Cornish surname and the fact that pirates were involved in the title.  Intrigued, I was surprised to learn that it is set in the 1920s, largely in Florence (a place I long to visit!) and England.  It is a romantic comedy revolving around a young aristocrat named Elizabeth Caracole (pronounced 'Crackle') who is sent to Florence to learn Italian and to teach English to a family of five brothers and a sister.  The head of the family has the honour of having been dentist to the Pope and has been suitably rewarded with a title. 

The first chapter was a little confusing as there are no natural breaks between paragraphs and dialogue and descriptions tend to flow into each other.  Once I got the hang of this, it settled into a pattern and the following chapter was a little more delineated.  It already presents the reader with snippets of wit and humour and sets up the two families nicely for what is to come. 

I had never heard of Violet Trefusis but fans of Vita Sackville-West may well be familiar with her name.  She was Vita's lover and their affair caused a great scandal at the time.  Violet Trefusis was trilingual - and this is already evident in the use of French and Italian expressions in this novel - and had novels published both in English and French.  She appears to have been very popular and very much a creature of society, something perhaps inherited from her mother (Alice Keppel) who was Edward VII's mistress and a prominent lady in Edwardian society.  So, Violet Trefusis seems to have been quite a colourful character not shy of causing a ripple or two in the calm waters of genteel Society.  I hope that I shall be entertained by my choice!

 Pop over to the Virago Reading Week host blogs for a final roundup of this exciting week and for the results of the various competitions.  Good luck!
Hosted by Carolyn and Rachel


Darlene said...

It was definitely a howling success and I will be in mourning right along with you now that it is almost over.

My eyes were popping at the connections this author has with some rather interesting people! And I love the images you chose.

StuckInABook said...

I loved Virago Reading Week, once (on Wednesday) I'd remembered that it was happening! Oh dear...

I have three Violet Trefusis books, bought because of her connection with Woolf and Sackville-West, although I have yet to read any of them. This isn't one of the ones I own... I don't think. I plan to start with 'Echo', because apparently there are twins in it... and I have a weakness for novels with twins.


Rachel (Book Snob) said...

Thank you for your enthusiasm and kind words and I'm so glad you have enjoyed the week! I haven't read a Trefusis before but I shall now - I didn't realise she was Alice Keppel's daughter!

Luvvie said...

I do love a good book cover and isn't that a beauty? I would have been hooked by the mention of pirates too. I wouldn't have picked up the Cornish name though but I do have very fond memories of time in Polperro when I was ten and on holidays during our big trip os.