Four-Part Setting by Ann Bridge (1939)

This novel is set in China in the late 1920s and has a plot similar to that of Ann Bridge’s first novel, Peking Picnic. A small group from the European colony in Peking take a trip into the interior. They face various adversities: someone falls ill; gangs of soldier-bandits terrorize the countryside; allegiances within the … Continue reading

The Wallet of Kai Lung (1900) by Ernest Bramah

Cover of the 1923 reprint Book Review by George S. This month we are reading Imperial fiction set in the Far East. My selection only fits a very broad interpretation of the remit, since it is a collection of stories set in a somewhat imaginary historical China, by Ernest Bramah (1868– 1942). I chose it … Continue reading

Mr Bunting Goes to War by Robert Greenwood (1941)

Greenwood’s irony-laden tale of the ‘little man’ in time of war (and successor to the well-received Mr Bunting (1940)) shows clear shades of the likes of Mr Pickwick and The Diary of a Nobody’s  hapless protagonist, Charles Pooter. Here, however, the backdrop is altogether more ominous, as this distinguished literary-comic lineage is transposed to the … Continue reading

Ann Veronica, by H G Wells (1909)

Spoiler alert.   Oh, Ann Veronica, Ann Veronica!  You had me, growing up in the 1970s, from the start.  I sympathised with your yearning for independence and fulfilment.  I felt your exasperation with your narrow-minded relatives.  I wanted you to unwrap your ‘wrappered life’.  And in a way you did, in spite of the society … Continue reading

Enduring Adventure by Norah C. James (1944)

This novel (by the author of the earlier and better known Sleeveless Errand) supplies a lucid account of life on the home front, and in particular the experience of the London blitz, giving voice to the trials, fears, doubts and frustrations undergone by those involved. That the author is, at least in part, concerned to buoy … Continue reading

Delia Blanchflower by Mrs Humphry Ward (1915)

Mary Ward was a bestselling novelist of the late Victorian period, but was regarded as a little old fashioned by the time this novel was written. She was also a notable public figure, campaigning tirelessly for education for women (including the founding of Somerville College, Oxford) and education for children, especially those with disabilities.  Nevertheless, … Continue reading

Suffragette Sally (1911) by Gertrude Colmore

Book Review by Sylvia D: Gertrude Colmore (1855-1926) finished writing Suffragette Sally in February 1911 at the height of the women’s militant suffrage campaign. She covers the two years preceding the book’s publication and, through the experiences of three women from very different backgrounds, attempts to explain the way the women’s actions were misrepresented and … Continue reading

The Squad Goes Out by Robert Greenwood (1943)

This novel (whose author is perhaps better known as the author of the slightly earlier ‘Mr Bunting’ novels) centres on the work of a voluntary ambulance squad during the London blitz. The novel depicts the personal struggles and internal tensions within the squad and its individual members, with the implicit (though not entirely persuasive) sense … Continue reading

There were no Windows by Norah Hoult (1946)

This is by turns a moving and unsettling tale of an elderly woman, Claire Temple – once a revered literary hostess and author – now facing the onset of dementia against the background of the London blitz. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is a rather claustrophobic read at times, as (like Claire herself) the setting of the … Continue reading