The Cleft Stick (1937) by Walter Greenwood

Review by Sylvia D: The Cleft Stick is a collection of 15 short stories. Although the book wasn’t published until 1937, all but two of the stories were written between 1928 and 1931. As Greenwood says in the Preface, they ‘were the products of the ‘prentice hand’ – (p9). They are all set in the … Continue reading

Only Mugs Work (1938) by Walter Greenwood

Book Review by George S: Only Mugs Work is subtitled ‘A Soho Melodrama’, so Walter Greenwood is a long way from the Salford of Love on the Dole. The novel starts promisingly with a bustling description of Soho, centre of the theatre and film worlds by day, and by night something more sinister:

Death Goes on Skis by Nancy Spain (1949)

The writer, journalist and broadcaster, Nancy Spain, published several comic detective stories between 1945 and 1952, of which this is the fourth. It features her two recurring, (extremely) amateur detectives, Natasha Nevkorina, a Russian ex-ballet dancer, and Miriam Birdseye, a revue artist soon to star in a show called Absolutely the End.  Natasha is lovely … Continue reading

Pomfret Towers (1938) by Angela Thirkell

This is a comic novel about a group of families in Barsetshire – the imaginary county that Angela Thirkell took over from Anthony Trollope. Much of it happens during an eventful weekend party at Pomfret Towers, home of Lord Pomfret, whose rudeness is a constant source of embarrassment to others and delight for the reader. … Continue reading

The Whicharts (1931) by Noel Streatfeild

Book review by George S: I should probably start this review with a trigger warning. It may cause disquiet and consternation to anyone for whom Ballet Shoes was an essential and much-loved part of their childhood.

Narcissa (1941), by Richmal Crompton

This month we read adult novels by authors better known as writers for children. In Greek myth, Narcissus was a beautiful but excessively proud youth.  He was so enraptured by his reflection in water that he stared at it until he died and was transformed by the gods into the flower which bears his name. … Continue reading

The Unready Heart by Richard Sherman (1944)

Not a writer readily associated with depictions of wartime London (or indeed with longer fiction), Sherman ‘s short novel focuses on the plight of one Barbara Loomis, who, having escaped to the capital from her home-town of Leeds, is disappointed to have her quest for personal autonomy rudely interrupted by the untimely advent of the … Continue reading

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