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Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Literary fiction

Lolly Willowes

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Sylvia Townsend Warner, on your first book!

by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Quick take

A badass woman defying society and living her own truth

Why I love it

Book of the Month

In April of 1926, a fledgling Book of the Month Club announced its first ever selection, Lolly Willowes. Written by debut author Sylvia Townsend Warner, the novel tells the story of an unmarried woman who refuses to live the life that her family and society expects her to live. A bold and beguiling story about personal freedom, uneasy friendships, and witchcraft, Lolly Willowes was selected despite the fact that its author was completely unknown at the time.

Warner went on to have a long and respected career. She published novels, short stories, and poetry collections until her death in 1978. When later asked about how it felt to have written Book of the Month’s very first selection, she said, 'œI was astonished, delighted and confident that any organization daring enough to pick an unknown author would be a valuable asset to contemporary literature.'

Over 90 years later, Lolly Willowes is considered a classic. In the spirit of bringing great books to great readers, we are proud to present to you this exclusive hardcover BOTM edition.

Read about how 'Lolly’ inspired our first Book of the Year award

Read less

Member thoughts

All (944)
All (944)
Love (199)
Like (457)
Dislike (288)
1027 ratings
  • 19% Love
  • 44% Like
  • 28% Dislike
  • West Chester, PA

    This novel abt a spinster embracing witchiness wasn't scary, but very evocative of the seasons & atmospheric. I liked how Laura “Lolly” Willowes stood up for herself & left a stuffy life. BOTM's 1st.

  • Madison, WI

    Reading this book felt like a little prayer to those women who came before us: we remember you and understand why you pushed the boundaries of your limited lives for the rights to pursue your happines

  • Helena, MT

    The perfect witchy autumn read! Witty, headstrong Lolly makes a deal with the devil in this subversively feminist classic. Wonderfully descriptive & totally charming. I loved it (especially Vinegar)!

  • Monterey, CA

    this was a very light, quick read. Lolly comes to find comfort in who she is toward the end. I saw myself in her at times. a little more witchy encounters would have been cool, but still a nice read.

  • Washington, DC

    Laura is a middle-aged and reliable spinster until she rejects her controlling family. The first 2/3 are an Austenian family saga, but then there's a deal with the Devil in the magical 3rd chapter.

  • Springfield, VA

    I had come across this on a top 10 list from David Mitchell. Its such an interesting and lovely little historical book that still resonates today. Happy to find it here so I can have my own copy.

  • Lakewood, WA

    This book so far is awesome, it's hard to put down. What a great selection for the book of the month to choose for their very first book I can see why they did. I recommend this book to everyone

  • Rocky River, OH

    I loved it. Admittedly it was odd, and there were some very non-linear plot turns, but once I stopped trying to make sense of it and hung on for the ride I enjoyed it very much! I adored Lolly!

  • Lithonia, GA

    WHOA. I don't know what I thought this would be, but it's amazing. Totally different than most modern popular literature, and not at all the happy/trite/feel good story you expect from the time.

  • West Hollywood, CA

    This book begs to be read in the autumn! A Bronte-esque heroin in a world as closely observed as Maugham’s Of Human Bondage with flourishes of Irving’s Sleepy Hollow! Brilliantly subversive!

  • Largo, FL

    I LOVED Lolly Willowes. It's filled with compassion, wit, charm, and social commentary that would make Austen cheer. The story of how Lolly becomes a witch (independent feminist) is exquisite.

  • Ortonville, MI

    During the first half, I had to fight to continue reading; because it was so slow. However, as soon as Laura moves out on her own, the book takes you on a wild ride making it hard to put down.

  • Chicago, IL

    This was a bit slow for the first 150 pages (I just kept waiting for her to commune with Satan), but especially for the time-period it must have been a wonderful, strong feminist statement.

  • Boise, ID

    A surprising and funny telling of one woman's fight to live her own life. Throughout my reading, I was full of longing sighs, giggles, and I had a smile on my face as the back cover closed.

  • Austin, TX

    Wow! I wish I could write in such a way as to convey the rhythms and flavor of Lolly Willowes, which is only one of the things I fell in love with while reading this book. Amazing book!

  • Floyd, VA

    A forgotten book that should have been more popular during its time period. Started off a bit slow, but worth it for the general feel of the book. Also, beautiful cover!

  • Charlottesville, VA

    I adored this book! It echoed some issues that I think are still pervasive in our current society. I will definitely be picking it back up sometime in the near future.

  • Silver Spring, MD

    A beautiful story that explores how strong and binding the expectations of society are for women. Is it actually more liberating to make a deal with the devil??

  • Vandalia, MO

    I adored this quiet, thoughtful, beautifully written book about a woman's power and her place in nature. Perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman and Virginia Woolf.

  • NYC, NY

    Spoilers herein: Feminism! Witches! Escaping the patriarchy to live with a kitten (who might be working with the devil) in the countryside. Smashing.

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