Mrs Frensham Describes a Circle (1943) by Richmal Crompton

Book review by George S: Mrs Frensham Describes a Circle is about an extended family in an English country town during the Blitz. Richmal Crompton shows how the war brings out different responses in the varied personalities of the family, and suggests which temperaments are best able to deal with a historical crisis.

Poor Caroline (1931) by Winifred Holtby

Book review by Sylvia D:  Poor Caroline is a satire in which Holtby pokes fun at the worlds of philanthropy and religion but also introduces other themes: the loneliness and frustrations of old age, the position of women in interwar society, and the lingering impact of the First World War on those who fought in … Continue reading

The Vanity Girl (1920) by Compton Mackenzie

Book review by Sylvia D: When Compton Mackenzie’s The Vanity Girl (the copy I read being the Remploy reprint of 1973) was first published in 1920 by Macdonald, it was dedicated to Mackenzie’s sister, Fay Compton, the actress. When it was republished in 1954, Mackenzie (1883-1972) re-wrote the original dedication, with the words ‘Dearest Fay, … Continue reading

Gallipoli Memories (1929) by Compton Mackenzie

Book Review by George S. We’ve been reading fiction by Compton Mackenzie this month, but I deviated from the brief slightly by reading an example of his non-fiction. He published Gallipoli Memories in 1929, fourteen years after his participation in the unsuccessful military campaign. He tells us that he had spent years pursuing ‘that elusive … Continue reading

Women in Exile (1942) by Jean Ross

This wartime novel (written by Scottish author Irene Dale Hewson, but published pseudonymously) takes as its main subject the plight of women evacuees during the Second World War, with the concomitant theme of exile both implicitly and explicitly present throughout. Attention is focused away from the blitz-stricken capital (though London – and also Belfast – … Continue reading

Enduring Adventure (1944) by Norah C. James

Book Review by Sylvia D: Norah C[ordner] James (1896-1979) came from a wealthy Hampstead family and the British Library catalogue lists more than 70 books written by her, mainly novels but also cookery and children’s books. Some were co-written with Barbara Beauchamp, James’s partner for the second half of her life. All the novels she … Continue reading

The Pillar of Cloud (1948) by Francis Stuart

By JV Dominic, an Irishman, finds himself in a small town in the French occupied region of post-war Germany. As a citizen of a neutral country (Eire) his presence in Marheim comes under suspicion from all sides and his life is precarious. He suffers from hunger and cold as do the other people who have … Continue reading