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      Summer Supporter Giveaway   08/31/2020

      Going on a Summer Holiday (Sort Of...)     The summer giveaway for Patreon supporters is finally here and this time we're doing something a little bit different. I want supporters to tell me where you would go on holiday, if you could go anywhere. The winner will receive a bookish prize based on their answer!   Terms and conditions are as usual. Patreon supporters will be automatically entered into the giveaway and selected at random. As we're a little late this year the draw will be held on the second weekend of September. If you aren't currently a supporter but want to be involved in the giveaway you can sign up to support us here:   https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum  
chesilbeach

The English Counties Challenge

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Just picking up on these comments - as Kay has reminded us, it's about the book that is most famously associated with the county rather than what we like and dislike. But then this is an easy one for me to say that on, as I've read and enjoyed all three!

 

I've just re-read my own comment back, and realise I didn't word it very well.  I meant to say, that while I love it as a book, it's only half set in Surrey, so therefore, I think Emma or, based on other comments, The War of the Worlds is more famous for Surrey.  It's difficult to dissociate your own feelings for a book from it's fame/notoriety, isn't it?! :D

 

I think we should probably go for another either/or on this county as it seems to me that both have equally compelling arguments for their inclusion as the Surrey book.

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It's difficult to dissociate your own feelings for a book from it's fame/notoriety, isn't it?!

 

So agree!

 

I think we should probably go for another either/or on this county as it seems to me that both have equally compelling arguments for their inclusion as the Surrey book.

 

Agree there too. (Although, I suspect later on we might be grateful for a book that is even half associated with a county!).

 

But surely it's all subjective?    I didn't know ARWAV was set in Surrey, despite having read it!   However I know that WoTW is.   Maybe we should set up polls when there is more than one suggestion?

 

To some extent it is subjective, no doubt, but the discussion will often lead us into what is most famously associated - there is some objectivity there (thus I had to recognise that Swallows and Amazons is more famously associated with Cumbria). If we really come unstuck, then we can always poll, but there's currently only half a dozen of us at most discussing this, so we can probably get a feel for the way it's going without going through that more formal route, especially as we've allowed ourselves to list an alternative. I think you answered the question yourself about ARWAV, and it looks as if War of the Worlds and Emma are pretty much equal (I can't think of two more opposite types of books - makes it all the more interesting).

Edited by willoyd

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TBH, I think you should choose if we have several suggestions, Claire. :)  I've read all three put forward for Surrey - I probably won't reread A Room With a View, but I might change my mind later on. 

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I can't keep up with how fast this thread is moving!!! :lol: (and I've got a cake baking in the oven and I have to keep popping out to check on it :doh:

 

But surely it's all subjective?    I didn't know ARWAV was set in Surrey, despite having read it!   However I know that WoTW is.   Maybe we should set up polls when there is more than one suggestion?  :)

 

 

TBH, I think you should choose if we have several suggestions, Claire. :)  I've read all three put forward for Surrey - I probably won't reread A Room With a View, but I might change my mind later on.

 

We could do a poll for some counties if needed, but I still think we need to have the discussion first.  My personal feeling is that we are all book literate and have a good knowledge of books generally, even if we haven't read them, so if someone suggests a book that no-one else has heard of, it's going to be difficult to say that it's the most famous.  Having said that, I think like willoyd has pointed out, we are going to struggle to find a single book for some counties.  I'm happy to make the final decision on a book, but I think it won't hurt to have two alternatives for the same county in some instances, especially if they are both famous for their setting, and on the whole, after the discussion we do seem to be generally in agreement.

 

Maybe what we could do is list alternatives for now, and then when we've got a full set of books for the counties, come back and do polls for the ones we have two options for.

 

As I've said before, when everyone comes to start the challenge, they can only use this as a resource if they want, and choose their own favourites, or mix and match whatever they feel like. :)

Edited by chesilbeach

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Back to London ...

I have to admit, I don't know enough about the geography of London, so I'm not sure what the best option is? While it is only a short story or novella at best, you can buy A Christmas Carol as a separate physical book, and it is synonymous with the City of London, and for me, I can't think of anything else that is more famous as that story. As we do still have the Greater London county to choose, that can be our main discussion, and I suspect this may be one where we might need a poll to decide!

 
Based on your earlier comments, willoyd, I think that would leave Greater London looking like this?
 
 
Greater London:
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd
The Crimson Petal and the White Michel Faber
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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Based on your earlier comments, willoyd, I think that would leave Greater London looking like this?

 

 

Greater London:

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd

The Crimson Petal and the White Michel Faber

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

 

Those are certainly all Greater London, some more specifically focused than others on one or more parts of London. In terms of fame, much as I think they're brilliant London books, surely we will have to cut out the Ackroyds and Faber? Equally, much as I think there are other books that are equally redolent of London (Mother London, London Belongs To Me, Hangover Square, Absolute Beginners, London Fields, and a couple of dozen or more others) I've been going through various books I have on London fiction, and I can't find anything more famous than any one of a number of Dickens or Mrs Dalloway.

 

Most if not all Dickens books include locations outside London, so I'm not sure which one should be the prime one to put up for 'Greater London' (one plus for Christmas Carol is that, even if not all in the City, it is at least all in London!). In terms of fame in relation to the place, I would have thought Bleak House for instance would be at least as strong a candidate as Little Dorrit or Oliver Twist, both of whom I do think are good suggestions. This is partly why I suggested combining the City and Greater London and having one Dickens and one best of the rest.

 

However, if we're sticking to City and Greater, for me, given that it's set in London in its entirety, has London as one of its core 'characters', is regarded as one of the great 'London' books, and given that City of London is a Dickens (albeit, in my view, a minor one), I'd come out in support of Mrs Dalloway.

 

BTW - I'm going to be nominating a Dickens for County Durham!

And another BTW! - One could do an interesting London challenge based on the boroughs or similar!

 

Edited by willoyd

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BTW - I'm going to be nominating a Dickens for County Durham!

 

Nicholas Nickleby? 

 

I hate to say it, but I think The Fifteen Streets is probably the most famous book set there!    :o

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I've been following this thread with interest, but as I haven't read many classics (although am attempting to put this right slowly) I haven't been able to add much to the discussion - although I did love Swallows and Amazons! :D

 

I can see myself picking this up as a challenge, and pitching into the discussion where I can :)

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Nicholas Nickleby? 

 

I hate to say it, but I think The Fifteen Streets is probably the most famous book set there!    :o

 

Seriously, I've never heard of it.  Who wrote it?

 

(And yes, it's Nicholas Nickleby).

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Catherine Cookson!  So I'm not surprised you haven't heard of it.  Nonetheless, she's probably one of the best-known authors, if not the best-known author in the North East.  I'm not suggesting it - but I'd have said it was more famous for County Durham than Nicholas Nickleby.

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She might be, but how famous is the book itself? Even Cookson may not last much longer: all the Cookson Country signs are coming down as local authorities are 'modernising' their tourist packages.

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Agree there too. (Although, I suspect later on we might be grateful for a book that is even half associated with a county!).

'Didn't the main character go for a daytrip there once  .. to see an old aunt' :D 

 

Greater London looks like a toughie .. especially if we are placing A Christmas Carol under the 'city' (and I agree with you Claire .. that story is as famous a London story as it gets.) Does that mean we should rule Dickens out because we already have him? (I noticed the American challenge has picked two of Stephen King's books .. but it is nice to have variety .. but then again if it is the more famous book :confused:) Out of that list the two that really stand out .. to me .. as being 'the most famous/famously associated' are Oliver Twist and Mrs Dalloway. If Bleak House is also included in the list it gets harder than ever .. I'm not sure I can pick from those three. I would definitely pick Little Dorrit if I could (because of its setting) but it's not quite as famous as the other two Dickens. 

 

Will try to get my head screwed on for the Greater London vote .. when/if it comes :blush2: 

 

I must admit .. when thinking of County Durham .. Catherine Cookson definitely comes to mind .. maybe though because I read her a lot as a teenager. Whether her books are famous enough though I don't know :shrug:   

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I think you're probably right about the Greater London category, willoyd, so that narrows it down to:
 
Greater London:
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
 
Kay, I don't think we should rule out having two Dickens, as he's the first author most people would associate with London, so it's hard to see past him.  I can't comment on Mrs Dalloway as I know little about it, but of the Dickens, my personal feeling is that Oliver Twist is the most famous of the three mentioned, so that would be my choice, but I suspect this is one of the counties we might end up having to have a poll for! :D
 
I'll add another county into the mix, to keep us moving, and since there's been a bit of discussion in the last few posts, let's get County Durham started, as it does seem to be one we'll have very few candidates for.  I've done a bit of digging and come up with a couple of other suggestions.  So, the options so far:
 
County Durham:
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
The Fifteen Streets by Catherine Cookson
The Black Velvet Gown by Catherine Cookson
The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall by Paul Torday
 
Obviously, Nicholas Nickleby is the most famous of those books, but is the link to the county too tenuous?  The other three books are all set in the county, but which is the most famous?  I'm in the dark with all of them, so I don't know what to choose, as although I've heard of Cookson, I've never read any of her books so I'm not familiar with the titles, and Torday's book is very recent, so seems unlikely to have a claim to fame yet, but perhaps because books set in the county are rare, this could be one of those exceptional counties that gets a very modern book?

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Oh my goodness just catching up with the thread & it's making my head ache, so much to think about. If someone could just clarify who is allowed to express a preference for the nominations, anyone or just the people who are involved in setting up the challenge and if it's  anyone do we choose by which book we think is the most famous or the one we'd like to read the most. Sorry i'm not trying to be arsey i'm just not sure & don't want to step on anyones toes  :smile:

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Anyone can nominate books and express their opinions on the books for each county, and the only criteria is supposed to be the book most famous for being set in a particular county.  If there are books that are equally as famous as each other, then we can go for two alternatives for that county (like we've done with Surrey) or go with what the majority want to pick.

 

I'm trying to try and get a consensus on a book for each county before moving onto the next two, so at the moment, we're discussing Greater London and County Durham.  (I have made a note of books for other counties that have been mentioned, but I'm trying to keep it to a couple of counties at a time to avoid too much confusion!)

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 my personal feeling is that Oliver Twist is the most famous of the three mentioned

Though I am torn between them .. ultimately that is my feeling too.

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Though I am torn between them .. ultimately that is my feeling too.

 

To give London over solely to Dickens, however great, would I strongly feel be a huge disservice to the city.  Mrs Dalloway is widely regarded as one of the the great novels of the city, not least because its actually about the city rather than just set in it, and is massively famous.  True, Oliver Twist is probably marginally more so, probably because of things like the film musical, even if it's generally recognised as not being his greatest, but then people are considering putting books like The Fifteen Streets in front of Nicholas Nickleby, so it's obviously not just fame that comes into it. 

 

Obviously, Nicholas Nickleby is the most famous of those books, but is the link to the county too tenuous?  The other three books are all set in the county, but which is the most famous?

 

And we're worrying about whether Mrs D or Oliver Twist is the more famous?! Is the setting of Dotheboys School that tenuous?

 

In answer to which is the most famous - none of them really. Cookson is sort of famous now, but if current trends are anything to go by she will be virtually unknown in a couple of decades. In 1997, nine of the top ten library loans were Catherine Cookson books and she was rated no. 1. Since then she has slid fairly spectacularly, falling out of the top in 2005, out of the top 100 in 2010-11, and out of the top 200 last year. Not a single book of hers featured in the top 100.

 

We're almost certainly going to have to go for some fairly unfamous (I almost said infamous!) books at some stage, but here?

 

 

 

Edited by willoyd

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To give London over solely to Dickens, however great, would I strongly feel be a huge disservice to the city.

I'm sure that no city would ever feel anything but pride in being linked to Charles Dickens .. and London is particularly proud of its Dickensian links.

Mrs Dalloway is widely regarded as one of the the great novels of the city, not least because its actually about the city rather than just set in it, and is very famous.

To those that have read it yes but otherwise I don't know if people automatically think Mrs Dalloway =  London. That's for others to answer.

True, Oliver Twist is probably marginally more famous

I love Virginia as you know .. and would like to see her represented here .. but I think Oliver Twist is more than just marginally more famous. But then, as Claire has said, there could be alternative choices.  

largely I suspect because of that ghastly musical

:o I disagree entirely (both about the musical being ghastly and the books fame being largely based on it). 

but then people are considering putting books like "The Fifteen Streets" in front of "Nicholas Nickelby", so it's not just fame that comes into it.

 'People' have just been discussing Catherine's association with that area and the fact that, at one time, she was our most widely read author. It's not necessarily ideal but then neither is Nicholas Nickleby  :shrug:  

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I'm sure that no city would ever feel anything but pride in being linked to Charles Dickens .. and London is particularly proud of its Dickensian links.

 

Speaking as a Londoner, I never said otherwise. But London is much bigger than just Dickens and proud of a lot of other links too, that's my point, and the proposal with these is to make both London books by Dickens. I think that would be a mistake, much as I love Dickens (in my top 5 favourite authors).

 

:o I disagree entirely (both about the musical being ghastly and the books fame being largely based on it).

So, how many people have actually read Oliver Twist compared to seeing the films? Most books, especially classics, are known through having been made into films or serials. Talk to anyone about Oliver Twist, and they'll mostly talk about scenes or songs from the film. If it's not in the film, they don't remember it. As a quick unscientific check, in the staff room yesterday, nobody other than me had read the book, but everybody bar two had seen the musical, and knew the story through it (FWIW they all knew of Mrs Dalloway too!).

 

But then, as Claire has said, there could be alternative choices.

 

Great - bring them on! Whilst I think that Mrs Dalloway is the strongest alternative candidate to date, which is why I'm arguing for it, I'd love us to consider others. I've certainly trawled through a few of my volumes on London fiction, and haven't found anything that rivals on fame, although I've found plenty that evoke London brilliantly (see my earlier post #81 for a few examples).

 

As I'm writing, just had a thought - what about Sherlock Holmes?!  (I think it's because he's largely short stories, I've missed him.  Goodness knows how - maybe I've missed others?).

 

(Sorry if I'm coming over a bit strong on this - just passionate about it because it's London!).

Edited by willoyd

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Great - bring them on! Whilst I think that Mrs Dalloway is the strongest alternative candidate to date, which is why I'm arguing for it,

What I meant was alternative choices for people doing the challenge .. so Mrs Dalloway OR Oliver Twist (you decide  :))

As I'm writing, just had a thought - what about Sherlock Holmes?! (I think it's because he's largely short stories, I've missed him.  Goodness knows how - maybe I've missed others?).

Sherlock Holmes is definitely synonymous with London .. which would be his most famous story set there? (A Study in Scarlet?)

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What I meant was alternative choices for people doing the challenge .. so Mrs Dalloway OR Oliver Twist (you decide  :))

 

Duh! Of course! Sorry!

 

Sherlock Holmes is definitely synonymous with London .. which would be his most famous story set there? (A Study in Scarlet?)

 

I would go for one of his sets of short stories - probably more famous and were/are more popular than his novels (apart from Hound of the Baskervilles - but that is definitely not London!). As good as any are The Adventures, the first set, which includes some of the classic London stories: Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-Headed League, The Blue Carbuncle and others, as well as a couple of other very famous ones where they travelled beyond the capital, .e.g The Speckled Band.

 

 'People' have just been discussing Catherine's association with that area and the fact that, at one time, she was our most widely read author. It's not necessarily ideal but then neither is Nicholas Nickleby  :shrug: 

 

I do agree, neither is exactly ideal. I suppose it's the same reacton from me as it was from you to Maid of Buttermere - whilst I've obviously heard of the author, I've never heard of the book. I also think Cookson's fame is likely to prove somewhat transient, but that is just my opinion. There's no doubt that Catherine Cookson is more associated with Durham, but for me the Dotheboys setting is more than just tenuous - it's one of Dickens's most famous settings surely? - and there is no doubting the fame of the book.

 

BTW, the more I think about it, the more I think that whilst Maid of Buttermere for me is a good candidate in considering an adult book for Cumbria, if we do go to a single book it would have to be S&A - no doubt that it's the most famously associated novel of any genre with the Lake District.  And, as has been said on several occasions, one can always differ for one's personal challenge.

Edited by willoyd

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To give London over solely to Dickens, however great, would I strongly feel be a huge disservice to the city.  Mrs Dalloway is widely regarded as one of the the great novels of the city, not least because its actually about the city rather than just set in it, and is massively famous.  True, Oliver Twist is probably marginally more so, probably because of things like the film musical, even if it's generally recognised as not being his greatest, but then people are considering putting books like The Fifteen Streets in front of Nicholas Nickleby, so it's obviously not just fame that comes into it. 

 

My point was which was the most famous of the three Dickens that were listed, not which of all the books were most famous, and as I already said, I don't know anything about Mrs Dalloway but I'm happy to have an alternative for this county, but I was merely trying to narrow down the choices of the Dickens books listed. But, I also liked your later suggestion of Sherlock Holmes which to me, is very much quintessentially related to London, now you've reminded me of it! However, while you're passionate about London, and naturally being the capital and largest city, there's bound to be more literature set in the area, but that doesn't mean it should get more focus than any other country - the rest of us want to share the limelight for a change! :D What I'm thinking is we pick one or possibly two books, and then link to the London Fiction thread for other options if people want to explore further. I don't think we're going to get a consensus, and this may help us narrow down our choices because we can still offer plenty of alternatives in the other thread?

 

And we're worrying about whether Mrs D or Oliver Twist is the more famous?! Is the setting of Dotheboys School that tenuous?

 

Again, my point was that I know nothing about Nicholas Nickleby and from the previous comments, I was under the impression that the link was tenuous, but if you're telling me that it's a much more than that, then it does seem like a very reasonable candidate.

 

So, to summarise, for Greater London, shall we decide between Mrs Dalloway and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or choose both?  As an objective outsider who hasn't studied London fiction, the Sherlock Holmes suits me better as famously associated with London, but again, I'm happy to have two as alternatives if we can't decide, alongside the link to the other thread.

 

And for County Durham, shall we go for Nicholas Nickleby as it is more famous than the Cookson books, despite the author being more famous for that county?

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What you say all makes huge sense to me Claire - you make a great referee!
 
If, as the "objective outsider" you'd rather go for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, that would be fine by me.  As a bit of an insider on this one, Mrs Dalloway is probably more about London, but there is no doubt that Mr Holmes is world famous as a Londoner, as is his London: fictional it might be, but 221B Baker Street is, outside Buckingham Palace, probably the most famous address in the metropolis.  I think he and the book would probably better suit all round.  Holmes and Scrooge would make a great London pairing, which would go well with a link to the London fiction thread - good idea!
 
On the Nicholas Nickleby / Catherine Cookson debate, I'm just trying to put up one side of an  argument  - I tend to argue robustly (as you may have gathered!), on the basis that if other arguments are strong enough, they'll hold up.  As I see it, it's a famous book with a strong locational link (whilst it's not set entirely or even mostly within the county, the whole raison d'etre of the book is the attack on schools like Dotheboys - based on Bowes Academy) versus an author with a strong geographical relationship, but with a book or books that are themselves less well-known.  I'd personally go for the former in this case, but then I've not read any Cookson.  What do others think, especially anybody who has read both?  Incidentally, when we get on to Tyne and Wear, for instance, is a Cookson novel likely to feature there?

Edited by willoyd

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Ok, in order to move things on a bit, I've decided we'll stick with Holmes for the Greater London, and while we're waiting for any other responses about the County Durham question, let's make a start on the next couple of counties. Again, going through the thread earlier, here's what the suggestions are, plus a couple I've added in:

Dorset:
Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

Staffordshire:
Anna Of The Five Towns by Arnold Bennett
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett

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Dorset:
For me, it should be Hardy, not least because his books are so deeply interwoven with Hardy's sense of place, although French Lieutenant's Woman would have made a good choice otherwise.  But which one I haven't a clue - these two are perhaps the most famous set wholly in Dorset. Is one more famous than the other? Don't know! I'm looking forward to what others think.

Staffordshire:
Old Wives' Tale is perhaps the more famous, but Kidsmum has a point that Anna of the Five Towns is set wholly in Staffordshire. Again, I'm looking forward to what views others have.


 

Edited by willoyd

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