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South Riding

South Riding

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The story of Lydia is repeated in many Scottish novels – though the teacher and pupil are generally male! Like you, I loved the characterisation – individuals you can believe and invest in, drawn in such a way to elicit the reader’s sympathies in spite of their individual flaws and failings. It occurs to me that I've made the novel and the tv series sound unrelentingly grim, which it's not; there is a lot of humour in it as well - Holtby gets her satiric pen out for many of the council meetings (so much so that her mother felt obliged to resign as an Alderman after the novel got published), and Sarah's drive to install passion in her girls is appealing if you have any soft spot for inspiring teacher stories at all.

Nat was saying earlier that he’s seen the Ralph Richardson one, although it might be difficult to track down these days. Lydia Holly, the scholarship girl from the shacks, is the most brilliant student Sarah has ever taught, but when her mother's health fails, her education must be sacrificed.While Sarah’s appointment to the school receives significant support, one governor votes against the motion which passes nonetheless. Holtby was an influential feminist, a member of the equal rights Six Point Group and a director of its parallel publication Time and Tide; she was a committed speaker for the League of Nations Union, lecturing on collective security in international relations; and most remarkably, she was a pioneer in the development of black trade unionism in South Africa, a country she first visited in 1926, and whose fortunes continued to mark her for the rest of her life. Quote taken from the front flap of the dustwrapper) ***A twelfth impression of the true first edition, published a couple of years after the first impression, but using the same attractive dustwrapper design. Winifred Holtby's masterpiece is a rich evocation of the lives and relationships of the characters of South Riding. Central to Holtby’s story is Sarah Burton, a forty-year-old unmarried woman, newly appointed to the role of headmistress at the local girls’ school.

While Carne appears formal and proud, there is a softer, more humane side to his personality too – one that Sarah discovers as she gets to know him better. Williams still possesses the copy of South Riding that her mother Vera Brittain inscribed for her father, the political scientist George Catlin. In the tv version, Sarah still had her wartime romance but never loved another man since (though as she informs another character "there were other men - none of them meant anything!It was adapted for television by Stan Barstow for Yorkshire Television in 1974, starring Hermione Baddeley as Mrs Beddows, Dorothy Tutin as Sarah Burton, Nigel Davenport as Robert Carne and Judi Bowker as Midge Carne. Alongside the domestic concerns of the likes of Hollys, Holtby is also keen to delve into the workings of local government – both as a catalyst for social improvement and a vehicle for abuse and corruption.

Shetakes the mundane workings of local government and makes of them, perhaps surprisingly, an unforgettable fictional world. In the novel's closing lines, "a serene old age" beckons for Mrs Beddows, a fate denied Holtby, who died in London in the early hours of 29 September 1935. My knowledge of Scottish lit is woefully inadequate, so you might have to point me in the right direction here! The mosaic of lives, from the failing gentleman farmer to the slum dwellers in the Shacks, give a real picture of a community.Beddows in her conversation with Sarah after Carne's death talks about how being 70 doesn't make a difference, there are still days you feel like a girl and then you go down the stairs and look in the mirror and the wrinkled face of a stranger looks back, and so she didn't have an option but friendship, in the tv version Davies tones this down to "I loved him, too, and maybe more than I should have" and that's it. I’m sure this isn’t a coincidence and among the many strands in the novel is a reworking of the Jane Eyre/Rochester relationship. It's an ensemble piece, structured around the activities of local government and the ways they intersect with the characters' lives.

She also had a successful career in journalism and wrote the first critical study of Virginia Woolf in English. It is a world of the 1930s where some women are carving out a career, others have more traditional roles, and where issues such as too many children and inadequate maternity care affect others. Its length and the varied and large array of characters reminded me of Victorian novelists like Eliot and Dickens. We are members one of another": Holtby's message is all the more remarkable when one considers that it was written as she faced death.Just in case you need a reference to how aware the British public at that point could be of what the Third Reich was doing to its opponents, years before the Wannsee conference took ever place and a year before the world-attended Olympics happened in Berlin. I somehow managed to miss out on Holtby when she was in vogue (I think I read one of them, but now haven’t the first clue which it was, if indeed I did. The opponent is Robert Carne, a rather conservative farmer who remains wedded to the values and traditions of the past.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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