As I have finished my last read for the Canadian Reading Challenge 3, my reading thoughts have turned to Canlit to read for the coming year. I’ve been long thinking of Hugh Hood’s New Age Cycle, a 12-volume novel sequence that was apparently inspired by the novel sequences of Proust and Powell.
Ever wondered what the difference is between a novel sequence and a series? You could have a look at the Wikipedia page, but it still seems to suggest considerable overlap between the two categories, so I’m still kind of wondering what the difference is.
Nonetheless, what there is no doubt about is my appreciation of stories that last longer than a single book. From the Estes books about The Moffats to Christie Harris’ tales about Mousewoman, from Encyclopedia Brown mysteries to Enid Blyton’s Adventure Books: I’ve loved series (novel sequences?!) since I was a kid. The longer the better.
So you can bet that I sat up a little straighter when I started looking into Hugh Hood’s New Age Cycle more seriously and came across the reference to Zola’s 20-book-long novel sequence. But then I remembered that I was supposed to be thinking about Hugh Hood’s novels, deciding whether or not to tackle reading the series, its twelve books, over the coming year.
It’s a major Canadian work and Hugh Hood is a prominent personage in Canlit but, as much as reading in that vein is of interest to me, I’m not keen on didactic fiction and am concerned that the prominence of the author’s Catholicism (given that moral questions and searching are apparently at the heart of the novels) might outweigh my literary interest in the series.
Here is the list of The New Age Cycle novels:
The Swing in the Garden (1975)
A New Athens (1977)
Reservoir Ravine (1979)
Black and White Keys (1982)
The Scenic Art (1984)
The Motor Boys in Ottawa (1986)
Tony’s Book (1988)
Property & Value (1990)
Be Sure to Close Your Eyes (1993)
Dead Men’s Watches (1995)
Great Realizations (1997)
Near Water (2000)
Have you read any of them? Did you think they were worthwhile?
Does the idea of a long novel sequence make your reader’s heart beat a little faster? Out of fear, or anticipation?!