I thoroughly enjoyed my reading for this challenge. My initial choice was made on the basis of accessibility, but even so it was over-ambitious – the library had almost none of the authors listed and in the end I had to buy anything that wasn't already on my shelves, so I limited myself to those I was reasonably confident about enjoying, and none of the authors I read was completely new to me. I had one complete failure: Christina Stead's The Man Who Loved Children was there on the shelf, I had started it once before and, when I couldn't get any further this time, gave up. It simply doesn't appeal to me. Similarly, I couldn't seem to get to Malcolm Lowry, though I will give him another try. Maugham's Of Human Bondage, which was a re-read, and which I loved when I was younger, remains, for the time being, unfinished; however he was well-served by other Challenge readers, so I don't feel too bad about it.
I read two books by G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Man Who Was Thursday, and plan to read more of his work over the course of this year. His blend of the political with the spiritual appeals to me very much, and his sense of fun is ever-present. I knew the Father Brown stories from when I was young, but look forward to a further encounter with the little priest. I notice, too, that they were adapted for television, with Donald Pleasance starring.
One of my books by Marian Engel, Lunatic Villas, was a re-read, as it's a long-time favourite. Another, The Glassy Sea, has achieved favourite status, a beautiful and utterly absorbing story of a woman's efforts to find her place in a changing world. Because I was reading Engle for this challenge, I included The Honeyman Festival in my list for the Canadian Book Challenge and found a witty polemic on the theme of motherhood which sat well with the previous two. Her work is very much of its period, and my impression is that her place in the CanLit canon is now largely historical, despite her status as Governor General's Award winner (for Bear). Anyone interested in the history of feminism, though, should have Engel on their reading list.
The Country House and The Forsyte Saga (A Man of Property, In Chancery and To Let) by John Galsworthy (the latter completed within the time but not yet posted on) continued my approach of reading more than one work by an author. In both he is concerned with a woman's role in an unhappy marriage, and with the legal constraints on her escape from such a situation. Galsworthy's style is distinctive, and weighty with detail rather than action, but his subject matter - the transition from the Victorian to the modern world – is sharply observed and sympathetically chronicled. I shall be returning to Galsworthy and the rest of the Forsyte story over the summer, after which I'm planning to borrow the television series from the library and watch it from start to finish!
Finally, Traveller's Prelude by Freya Stark was a pleasure for the fascinating story of her childhood and for her lovely writing, and led me to the short biography, Freya Stark by Caroline Moorehead. I have two of Stark's travel books still to read, and I dipped into some of her letters; I find that when I start reading I can't tear myself away, her voice is so immediate and compelling. Through much of her life she battled with ill-health, which makes her travels to parts of the Middle East where almost no Europeans had ventured all the more remarkable; in old age she could be autocratic and was undoubtedly eccentric, but the candour of her writing is often disarming and compels respect and admiration.
I'm already looking forward to more Outmoded Authors in six months' time, and impatient to see who will be new on the list.