2019 Reading List

2019 Reading Schedule

January 19:   The Castle of Otrontro: A Gothic Story by Horace Walpole –
moderated by Cathy.
February 16: Beat to Quarters  by C.S. Forester – moderated by Barbara.
March 16: Lady Susan by Jane Austen, and Silas Marner by George Eliot –
moderated by Gracia Faye.  
April 20: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – moderated by Luisa.
May 18: Remarkable Creatures: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier – moderated by
June 15: Frankenstein  by Mary Shelley – moderated by Priscilla.
July 20:  Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel – moderated by Linda.
August: No meeting.
September 21:  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – moderated by Nina.
October 19: The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lenox – moderated by Yvette.    
November 16: Jane Austen’s England: Daily Life in the Georgian and
Regency Periods by Roy and Lesley Adkins – moderated by Phyllis.
December:  Jane Austen Birthday Celebration! Place and date to be determined.


Another Opportunity to Read More C.S. Forester

Another Naval Captain in Another War

Already finished Beat To Quarters? Can’t wait another year to read another C.S. Forester novel? Then your prayers have been answered! Originally published in 1955 and hailed then as one of the best books of that year, C.S. Forester’s novel about a naval captain during WWII has, until very recently, been out of print.

But nothing screams, ‘another publishing opportunity’ so loudly as when the book is made into a ‘major motion picture’. This one, however, might qualify. To be released on March 22, 2019 with the film title ‘Greyhound’, the heroic naval captain of The Good Shepherd will be played by none other than Tom Hanks.

Here’s the plot, according to Amazon. com : ” The mission of Commander George Krause of the United States Navy is to protect a convoy of thirty-seven merchant ships making their way across the icy North Atlantic from America to England. There, they will deliver desperately needed supplies, but only if they can make it through the wolfpack of German submarines that awaits and outnumbers them in the perilous seas. For forty eight hours, Krause will play a desperate cat and mouse game against the submarines, combating exhaustion, hunger, and thirst to protect fifty million dollars’ worth of cargo and the lives of three thousand men. ”

The Good Shepherd was finally re-published in paperback last October and can now be found most everywhere, including with our friend Mr. Amazon.

February Meeting: Beat to Quarters

Continuing the adventures of our nautical hero

Several years ago, inspired both by the fact that Jane Austen had two sailor brothers, as well as the TV series with Ioian Gruffudd – whose name we couldn’t pronounce, but whom we adored nonetheless – we decided to begin reading the Horatio Hornblower series of novels.

Our group decided to read the books in chronological order, and follow Hornblower through his career and across the development of the Napoleonic Wars. These books roughly track the dates of Jane’s life, and portray events Jane would have no doubt been familiar with.

For 2019, we will be reading Beat to Quarters, the 6th book (in chronological order, not the order in which the books were written). In this book,
Captain Hornblower commands the H.M.S. Lydia, a 36-gun frigate. He is ordered to proceed to the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua; deliver armaments to a local revolutionary; assist the revolutionary in fomenting rebelling in Central America; destroy the Natividad, a Spanish 50-gun ship; assist in the establishment of a trans-isthmus trade route; and if possible, also establish British trade in the area. A tall order for anyone, but perhaps not impossible for the intrepid Hornblower.

Join us at 11 a.m. at the Ventura downtown library on Saturday, February 16th!

2019: A Year of the Gothic

The Ventura Reading Group began 2019 with an amazing potluck brunch (and lots of tea!).  This year, in preparation for the AGM and the study of Northanger Abbey, the Ventura Reading Group will be delving into all aspects of the Gothic Novel.  Appropriately, this month we read, ‘The Castle of Otranto’, by Horace Walpole, the very first gothic novel ever written. 

Our group welcomes members from all corners of Ventura County (and sometimes even beyond!) on the 3rd Saturday of each month.

Discussion Questions–May 2018

 ‘There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.’     ~ P.G. Wodehouse

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf

  1. Do the central relationships of the book belie its title? In her forward, Margaret Atwood speaks of “forgotten friendships” which seems rather more apt than the provocative “secret sisterhood.”

According to a number of reviewers the relationships between Charlotte Bronte and Mary Taylor and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield were well known. The friendship between Anne Sharp and Jane Austen, while not unknown, is expanded upon; the relationship between Harriet Beecher Stowe and George Eliot is referred to as more an on-off correspondence rather than the deeper relationships of the others.

  1. Do you find that the book is about more than the mere facts of these friendships?
  2. What was the impact of these friendships on the writings of the women? Do Midorikawa and Sweeney seem to be saying that these pairs of writers provided support and encouragement and sounding boards for each other that were unavailable from other sources, such as family or male friends and acquaintances?

In the epilogue, the authors state “Four decades after the death of Jane Austen, George Eliot read the work of her forebear before embarking on her first novel. Some seventy years later, Virginia Woolf’s book-length essay of A Room of One’s Own, published in 1929, acknowledged the debt she owed, not just to Jane, but also to Charlotte and Marian. ”

  1. What did you think of the writing style of the authors? Engaging? Dry? Academic? Informal?
  2. The earliest biographers of Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and particularly Jane Austen created a mythology around them of eccentric, sometimes lonely women who toiled in isolation, publishing under pseudonyms or anonymously. Do you think this “misinformation”affected the literary reputations of these writers?
  3. The authors indicate that the motivation of Jane Austen’s family (particularly Cassandra) for actively omitting Anne Sharp from any account of the author’s life was more than just the unsuitable crossing of class boundaries. If you agree with their assertion of jealousy as primary motive, what does that say about Jane and Cassandra’s relationship?
  4. The epilogue continues the narrative by mentioning 20th Century pairs of female writers: Winifred Holtby & Vera Brittain; Jean Rhys & Eliot Bliss; Zora Neale Hurston & Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; Maya Angelou & Toni Morrison. Did you find these glimpses of more tales of female literary pairings tantalizing—did they make you want to delve further into these stories?
  5. The authors themselves show us an example of modern literary friendship and support, in addition to collaboration in writing this book. Is this an added layer of interest to the narrative, or is the insertion of their own story a distraction from the focus of the book?