Group Read: Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson, vol 4 (Oberland; Dawn's Left Hand; Clear Horizon; Dimple Hill; March Moonl

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Group Read: Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson, vol 4 (Oberland; Dawn's Left Hand; Clear Horizon; Dimple Hill; March Moonl

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1lauralkeet
Jul 26, 2016, 7:36pm

In 2016 we are reading Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage, published by Virago in 4 volumes. Below, from the cover blurb:
The thirteen magnificent novels that comprise Pilgrimage are the first expression in English of what was to be called 'stream of consciousness' technique, predating the work of both Joyce and Woolf, echoing that of Proust with whom Dorothy Richardson stands as one of the great innovatory figures of our time. These four volumes record in detail the life of Miriam Henderson. Through her experience - personal, spiritual, intellectual - Dorothy Richardson explores intensely what it means to be a woman, presenting feminine consciousness with a new voice, a new identity.

We began in December, 2015, reading one novella per month through 2016. For most of us, this reading experience has had its ups and downs but we have supported one another throughout, and have often come to appreciate this work more because of the insights shared on these threads.

This thread will cover the five novellas that make up Pilgrimage v.4 in the Virago Modern Classics edition:
* August: Oberland
* September: Dawn's Left Hand
* October: Clear Horizon
* November: Dimple Hill
* December: March Moonlight

We are in the home stretch now! Just think what a sense of accomplishment we will all feel come December!

2LyzzyBee
Jul 27, 2016, 1:26am

I can't believe we're on the last one! And, while it has been an enjoyable process in the main ... they're all pretty short, everyone!

3LyzzyBee
Editado: Ago 6, 2016, 2:35am

I've done Oberland now, finished this morning. Hm. We get to go abroad, which is fun, and there are some lovely descriptions, but I found it a bit confusing and frustrating, too!

Edited to update the touchstone. But hey, the Chalet School was in the Oberland apparently! Or was at one time ...

4lauralkeet
Ago 6, 2016, 8:28am

>3 LyzzyBee: oh dear. I'm about to take the plunge. I guess I've been warned. :)

5kaggsy
Ago 6, 2016, 10:37am

You're doing better than me, but I do aim to catch up this month! :)

6LyzzyBee
Ago 6, 2016, 5:30pm

>4 lauralkeet: Sorry!! It mentioned quite a few things I don't recall reading about but the bits about travelling etc. were good!

7LyzzyBee
Ago 12, 2016, 1:19pm

I've got round to reviewing Oberland now, am I first? https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/book-review-oberland/

8lauralkeet
Ago 12, 2016, 7:45pm

I haven't started yet, but hope to do so this weekend. Looks like an "interesting" book and no I don't remember her ever being in Cambridge! I hate the way Richardson tends to refer to people, places, events as if we all know what's going on. Gah.

9kaggsy
Ago 13, 2016, 3:35am

Yes, you're well ahead of us all - I am starting to play catch up!

10kaggsy
Ago 16, 2016, 12:43pm

I'm all caught up! Just finished Oberland having read the last three books pretty much all on the trot. I think I liked this one best, as Switzerland was so beautiful, and Miriam responded to it so strongly. Though I do think she was pretty flirty in it and if she wants to have any kind of relationship she needs to learn that they always require some kind of compromises on both sides. She's an awfully rigid person....

I'll do a composite review on my blog and link it here when it's up!

Phew!

11lauralkeet
Editado: Ago 16, 2016, 1:26pm

>10 kaggsy: I'm impressed with your rapid catch-up! My 10pp/day method is still working for me. I'm about 30 pages into Oberland, she's just arrived at the hotel and is analyzing the other guests, trying to figure out the image she wants to personally project during her stay. Is she overthinking it or is that just what we also do in similar circumstances? I'm not sure.

12kaggsy
Ago 16, 2016, 1:38pm

>11 lauralkeet: Overthinking is a word I've used in my review actually, and I really think she overanalyses things far too much. If we all did this in our daily lives I think we'd grind to a halt! She's also extremely class conscious (not in a good way) and despite the image we're supposed to have of her being a modern, unconventional, liberated woman I actually think she's remarkably rigid and inflexible which could be to her personal detriment in the long run! The more I think about it, the more I think she's very oversensitive, possibly because of an odd and sheltered background in a particular social milieu, and she really doesn't cope well with other humans.

13kaggsy
Ago 22, 2016, 2:07am

Reviews of Oberland and the previous three books finally up here:

https://kaggsysbookishramblings.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/all-viragoall-august-ca...

Feels good to have caught up!

14LyzzyBee
Ago 22, 2016, 10:38am

>13 kaggsy: yay well done, will check them out soon!

15lauralkeet
Ago 24, 2016, 7:01am

I finished Oberland on Monday evening. I found it somewhat more enjoyable than others because of the "holiday" vibe.
And don't we all have that internal monologue going when we are staying in a hotel and observing the comings & goings of other guests? But since these books are spent entirely inside Miriam's head, and she is very analytical and prone to overthinking, it was somewhat devoid of plot, character development (except for Miriam), and emotion. Very much like all of the other books, but I guess I would prefer it to be less cerebral.

16kaggsy
Ago 24, 2016, 7:17am

>15 lauralkeet: I liked this one too, and I think Miriam's thought processes do probably reflect the judgemental side of us that we don't always let out into public... I do worry about her inflexibility though!

17kaggsy
Ago 24, 2016, 7:58am

I enjoyed it too, Laura - and I think Miriam's thought processes perhaps represent the less-than-charitable thoughts we sometimes have about people but keep to our selves! I do worry that she is so demanding, however, that she's doomed to be forever alone!

18Sakerfalcon
Ago 26, 2016, 10:33am

I need to start Oberland soon. Based on the previous novels in the sequence, I strongly agree with Laura and Karen in their assessment of Miriam's character - she certainly does overthink everything and seems incapable of compromise. I've often found myself wincing at some of the social interactions we see between her and others. Based on both your comments I am looking forward to Oberland.

19BeyondEdenRock
Set 12, 2016, 6:01pm

I loved Miriam on her own and out in the world in Oberland, but I was a little disappointed with the book as a whole because it didn't really seem to go anywhere.

I say that at more length here: https://beyondedenrock.com/2016/09/12/oberland-by-dorothy-richardson-1928/

20LyzzyBee
Set 14, 2016, 2:53am

I've got stuck in a great big Wharton that's a sequel I wanted to read next to its prequel, and now feeling twitchy it's almost the middle of the month and I haven't started this month's Dorothy yet! Anyone else?

21kaggsy
Set 14, 2016, 5:28am

I haven't started it either - bogged down in review books. I *will* read it soon - the end of the sequence is in sight!

22lauralkeet
Set 14, 2016, 6:18am

You have plenty of company Liz, I haven't started either since I have two other books on the go at the moment. But it occurs to me that I should start my 10-pages-per-day regimen this weekend in order to finish it this month. Ack.

23Sakerfalcon
Set 14, 2016, 6:20am

I've read it, as I just carried on after finishing overland. I will refrain from comment until you all have caught up.

24BeyondEdenRock
Set 14, 2016, 6:37am

My plan is to finish a couple of books I have in progress, read a Mary Stewart book to celebrate her centenary, then I'll get back to Miriam.

25LyzzyBee
Set 19, 2016, 4:16am

I've done Dawn's Left Hand, she seemed to reintroduce loads of characters that she'd had in other books, (and was she always so matey with the doctor) and then ... well, shocking! It was a real Curate's Egg book for me again, there were some very apt and apposite descriptions and long sections where I couldn't work out what was going on! That's all I'll say for the moment, until more of us have read it, though I'll be publishing my review around Tuesdayish.

26lauralkeet
Set 19, 2016, 6:13am

>25 LyzzyBee: I've read the first two chapters. It was interesting to me that this one takes place immediately after Oberland, normally there are time gaps between books. And yes already a familiar character has been re-introduced, albeit off page. I will brace myself for the shocker!

27kaggsy
Set 19, 2016, 3:03pm

>25 LyzzyBee: >26 lauralkeet: Oh dear! Now I'm intrigued and rather worried!

28LyzzyBee
Set 22, 2016, 4:27am

I've reviewed Dawn's Left Hand but there are some spoilers ... (also this post has a review of The Gods Arrive but you can read the first one without reading that! https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/book-reviews-the-gods-arrive-and-...

29lauralkeet
Editado: Set 25, 2016, 1:21pm

I finished Dawn's Left Hand yesterday. I like Liz's description of these books as a curate's egg. So true. I have questions, but don't click unless you've read the book already.


1. The long-awaited scene with Hypo seemed to leave Miriam cold. There seemed to be little passion and she appeared to be turned off by seeing him naked. Did others interpret her reaction the same way?

2. Is their affair still going on at the end of the novel? Does Alma know of it, and of Hypo's infidelities in general? I thought it was quite odd the three of them still visiting together even as she and Hypo were sneaking off.

3. I didn't quite "get" the Amabel segments other than that she and Miriam seemed to be infatuated with one another.

30LyzzyBee
Set 25, 2016, 2:15pm

1. Yes, two goes though, one unsuccessful, one successful.

2. I think so! More goes? Not sure.

3. No, seemed pretty random to me!

I think those are general enough answers not to hide them!

31lauralkeet
Set 25, 2016, 4:08pm

Thanks Liz and thank you especially for your first answer, as I wasn't quite sure about that. Richardson is sooo opaque sometimes.

32Sakerfalcon
Set 27, 2016, 4:27am

>31 lauralkeet: I'm glad it wasn't just me who was left wondering "What actually happened there?!" I also wasn't sure what their status was at the end of the book.

33LyzzyBee
Set 27, 2016, 6:23am

I thought it was quite funny that when she was floating around feeling "everything has changed and everything hasn't and I'm a bit smug now" it reminded me very clearly of quite a few teenage girls' coming-of-age novels from my youth - some things don't change in writing!

34lauralkeet
Out 21, 2016, 2:08pm

I finished Clear Horizon the other day. Ai-yi-yi, these books are starting to drive me nuts. Richardson describes events and dialogue with so little context I was often unsure whom Miriam was speaking with or about, or where they are, or why they are where they are. It's like looking through a tiny peephole that focuses your vision but obscures everything around it.

I'm still committed to finishing this series because I've invested so much time in it and we are so close to the finish line. But there are times it feels like some sort of punishment ...

35LyzzyBee
Out 22, 2016, 12:49pm

>34 lauralkeet: HA! What a great post to read when you're literally about to sit down with it for a couple of hours ... but are prevaricating!

36LyzzyBee
Out 24, 2016, 2:47pm

I've done Clear Horizon now, a bit confusing and caused me to wonder deeply about how other authors help the reader. Review up tomorrow.

37lauralkeet
Out 24, 2016, 2:51pm

>36 LyzzyBee: as you probably gathered from my comments, the author is doing nothing to help this particular reader!

38LyzzyBee
Out 25, 2016, 6:32am

I've posted my review of Clear Horizon (a misnomer if ever I heard one), note that it does have a spoiler so save it till you've read the book if you haven't finished the book yet.

https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/book-review-clear-horizon-virago/

39lauralkeet
Out 25, 2016, 7:23am

>38 LyzzyBee: Richardson makes no concessions to the reader well said, Liz. I also enjoyed your review generally. You mentioned some spoilery things that I wasn't completely sure about either, so glad to see some confirmation. And this sentence made me giggle, because it was just one of the many "WTF" moments I had while reading this book: "Figures from the past, including, startlingly, all the maids she has ever known at the Orlys’ dental practice, reappear."

40LyzzyBee
Out 25, 2016, 8:58am

>39 lauralkeet: I know, right? All the maids ever, but only from there. Hmph. Glad you enjoyed!

41Sakerfalcon
Nov 3, 2016, 6:53am

I finished Clear horizon yesterday and, while it wasn't one of the easier books in the series, it was far better than Revolving lights which I found really heavy going. Liz's review was helpful as always, though I had different interpretations of a couple of events. I thought the pregnancy was just a scare - it seemed that she sent two notes to Hypo, one saying they needed to meet and then a follow up saying they had nothing to discuss, which I took to relate to her first thinking she was pregnant and then realising she wasn't. Though Densley seems to think she might be later in the book, so there is that. Also, I didn't see Hypo covering her job - wasn't Miriam commenting on watching the new secretary (who I assumed to be another woman) learning the tasks and M. thinking how strange it was to see them being done by someone else who doesn't know the history behind the patients' names. And there was something about the new person returning a bit more confident after her first weekend off. But I could well have read it wrongly given that I was on the train at the time and that Richardson's prose is not clear at all!

42LyzzyBee
Nov 3, 2016, 8:03am

I'm sure I read that he offered to provide that / pay for that for M, but might well be wrong! And I thought that about the later comment from D, too, but then ?????

43LyzzyBee
Nov 7, 2016, 2:16am

I'm on Dimple Hill. Who are Florence and Grace?????? Have I gone mad and blanked?

44kaggsy
Nov 7, 2016, 4:49am

I've only just finished Dawn's left Hand. I don't expect you have gone mad, Liz, I expect it's just Richardson chucking new characters into the mix.

45kaggsy
Nov 10, 2016, 3:51am

Finally got my review of Dawn's Left Hand up here:

https://kaggsysbookishramblings.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/the-aftermath-of-switze...

Talk about putting the important parts of your life in parenthesis!

46LyzzyBee
Nov 10, 2016, 5:36am

>45 kaggsy: Well done, you're getting there! I'm making slow progress with Dimple Hill at the moment, not the most comforting read if you've got a cold!

47kaggsy
Nov 10, 2016, 6:27am

>46 LyzzyBee: I can imagine! I'm full of the sniffles myself at the moment so I'm wallowing in a Beverley Nichols!

48LyzzyBee
Nov 14, 2016, 3:25pm

49lauralkeet
Nov 14, 2016, 4:15pm

Congratulations, Liz. I started Dimple Hill just yesterday, once again taking my medicine in 10-page increments. The first 10 pages were fine, the second 10 reminded me of why these books drive me nuts.

50LyzzyBee
Nov 14, 2016, 4:34pm

>49 lauralkeet: Ha! I started off driven nuts then backed away from that for a little bit ...

51lauralkeet
Editado: Nov 17, 2016, 12:29pm

Dimple Hill, Chapter V, p 446 in VMC edition:
'Now that's wise of you.' Had Miss Roscola told him of her breakdown? ... She had not told him. He regarded her as a paying guest on a fortnight's holiday ...

For heaven's sake, Dorothy. The way you skip over major life events and drop these little bombshells! If we are supposed to be inside Miriam's head, why did we not know this?

On the other hand, I enjoy reading about Miriam's enjoyment of homemade buns and cakes. The language is really quite lovely.

52kaggsy
Nov 17, 2016, 2:54pm

>51 lauralkeet: :)))) Ha! That's exactly it, Laura! It's one of the most bizarre elements of the book!!

53LyzzyBee
Nov 18, 2016, 10:25am

>51 lauralkeet: YES! I thought she was having her holiday because of The Other Thing. Argh!

54lauralkeet
Nov 26, 2016, 6:25am

I finished Dimple Hill yesterday, and enjoyed it more than most of the previous novellas. The writing is just as obtuse as ever, but this time the plot captured my attention more. Miriam's reasons for being with the Quaker community were only vaguely explained. But her observations and her gradual assimilation into the community were interesting. And Miriam, who is typically critical of everything around her, was more upbeat. Finally!

55LyzzyBee
Dez 1, 2016, 1:08pm

I've started March Moon whoo hooo!

56lauralkeet
Dez 1, 2016, 7:08pm

>55 LyzzyBee: me too. She's being obtuse again. :)

57LyzzyBee
Dez 2, 2016, 2:53am

She is. Who ARE these people?? Where IS she???

58kaggsy
Dez 2, 2016, 10:06am

Oh dear... Your responses are making me nervous! :)

59lauralkeet
Dez 2, 2016, 10:19am

>57 LyzzyBee: exactly.

>58 kaggsy: It's just more of the same, really. I don't know why I expect it to change, but I still approach each novella with hope!

60LyzzyBee
Dez 3, 2016, 7:27am

I HAVE FINISHED!!!!!!!!

I am none the wiser. But I've done it. Am going to read that book I bought about her, although that looks Hard, too. Might shed some light.

I DID IT!

61lauralkeet
Dez 3, 2016, 8:49am

>60 LyzzyBee: Congratulations Liz! If you are none the wiser, I suppose that means the entire pilgrimage doesn't suddenly make sense. Sigh. I will press on, ~10 pages per day as usual.

Once a few of us have finished we should celebrate our collective accomplishment. It would also be interesting to share reflections on the work as a whole.

62kaggsy
Dez 3, 2016, 10:42am

Wow! Well done Liz - congrats on making it to the end first! :)

63Sakerfalcon
Dez 5, 2016, 5:42am

Woohoo! Congratulations! I am plodding along behind, still in Dimple Hill but planning to carry straight onto March moonlight. Will keep my expectations of revelation low ....

64LyzzyBee
Dez 5, 2016, 7:12am

Having been poking around Amazon I found one edition of the Journal of Dorothy Richardson Studies for Kindle at a couple of quid ... further poking around reveals free reading!

http://dorothyrichardson.org/journal/issue1/pjdrs_1.htm

65BeyondEdenRock
Dez 5, 2016, 9:49am

>60 LyzzyBee: Well done Liz!!!



I'd like to be done by the end of the year but I'm still in the early stages of Dimple Hill. Life has been distracting, and last week I broke my reading glasses and couldn't find the spares, so I haven't done much reading of any kind yet this month.

66Sakerfalcon
Dez 6, 2016, 8:30am

I finished Dimple Hill this morning which had many nice moments. I liked the Roscorlas and life at their cottage sounded lovely. Now onwards ....

67LyzzyBee
Dez 7, 2016, 1:00am

My final review! March Moon. This does have a spoiler so you might want to skip it till you've finished https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/book-review-march-moonlight-virag...

68Sakerfalcon
Dez 8, 2016, 7:32am

I've finished too! It was a long haul and I wouldn't have made it this far, let alone got as much out of the read, without others reading along and writing such perceptive reviews. March moonlight was enjoyable in the old and new characters that we spent time with, but was one of the worst in the series for slipping between first and third person narration. I knew that Pilgrimage itself was unfinished, but I hadn't realised that MM stopped in the middle until I read Liz's review. As Liz says, I'm glad to have made this journey, but relieved that I've reached the end. I could see myself rereading some of the early volumes, but I don't think I'd go back to the later ones.

69LyzzyBee
Dez 8, 2016, 10:05am

>68 Sakerfalcon: Yay! You get the finisher's medal, too, well done!!

70lauralkeet
Dez 8, 2016, 8:32pm

I'd like a medal too please! Just finished a few moments ago and read your review, Liz. Your thoughts are expressed so eloquently and convey much of my own feelings about the book and the work as a whole.

I'm glad I read it, and it was indeed interesting, but it takes considerable strength and commitment -- and/or fabulous reading buddies -- to get through it.

71LyzzyBee
Dez 9, 2016, 1:11am

>70 lauralkeet: Hooray! Well done, and thank you for your lovely comments about my review! I'll try to put the medal up on here or anyone is free to copy and use the picture I made, if you just right-click on it!

72bleuroses
Editado: Dez 15, 2016, 4:29pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

73BeyondEdenRock
Dez 18, 2016, 5:34pm

I finished March Moonlight this afternoon, and I was rather disappointed by it. I couldn't help feeling that Dorothy Richardson was throwing in as many things as she could, knowing that she was running out of time. And I can't help wondering what this series of books might have become if Dorothy Richardson had 'A Room of her Own', or maybe a different 'mentor'.

I'm not quite done with Dorothy Richardson yet, because I brought Gloria Fromm's biography home from the library yesterday - I had to pick it up before the TBR Dare starts - and I have the Virago short stories to read too.

74LyzzyBee
Dez 19, 2016, 7:51am

>73 BeyondEdenRock: Well done, although join the underwhelm club. There's also a Hard Book I'm reading about her that I'm willing to circulate.

75kaggsy
Jan 21, 2017, 4:06am

I have *finally* got back on the wagon with DR and have finished Clear Horizon - which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected (but this may have been the pleasant contrast with the rather masculinist Tolstoy I'd just been reading). My review's here:

https://kaggsysbookishramblings.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/a-strong-female-sensibi...

76LyzzyBee
Jan 21, 2017, 6:57am

>75 kaggsy: Hooray!

77Sakerfalcon
Jan 23, 2017, 5:27am

>75 kaggsy: Well done! A very well-written review, as always.

78kaggsy
Jan 23, 2017, 6:15am

>77 Sakerfalcon: Thanks Claire! :)