Helen of Four Gates (1917) by Ethel Carnie Holdsworth

Ethel Carnie Holdsworth’s previous novel, Miss Nobody (1913), had not been a commercial success, and that may be one of the reasons why her new publisher, Herbert Jenkins, chose to issue it anonymously as by ‘An Ex Mill Girl’. Some reviewers found the pseudonym confusing; it suggested that they would be reading an account of … Continue reading

She Was His Wife (1936) by Augusta Varty-Smith

Book Review by Sylvia D: My second book from the Mark Valentine donation is Augusta Varty-Smith’s She Was His Wife, published by Heath Cranton in 1936. Peter Carmichael is a successful, third generation City businessman whose father had built up an extensive estate, Long Ashes, a train ride away from the City, and had provided … Continue reading

1944 (1926) by the Earl of Halsbury

Book review by George S: The Earl of Halsbury’s novel, 1944 (published in 1926) is a very readable example of the ‘Future War’ genre’. Before 1914, such books had mostly been grim warnings about possible German invasions. After 1918,  they still proliferated, though with a change of emphasis. My favourites are the ones where Bolshevik … Continue reading

Sunset over Soho by Gladys Mitchell (1943)

This novel – one of the Mrs Bradley mystery series for which its author is chiefly known – centres around the strange discovery of the body of an old man in a makeshift coffin following a London air raid. The opening of the novel finds the inscrutable sleuth-psychologist (her day job is working as psychiatric … Continue reading

Robert Peckham (1930) by Maurice Baring

Book review by Sylvia D: Maurice Baring OBE (1874-1945) was the eighth child and fifth son, of Edward Charles Baring, first Baron Revelstoke, of the Baring banking family. His published works date from 1903 and include drama, poetry, translations, essays and novels. Robert Peckham which was first published by Heinemann in 1930 is a fictional … Continue reading

Lords and Masters (1936) by A.G. Macdonell

Book Review by George S.: A. G. Macdonell is best known for his comic novel, England, Their England. Lords and Masters is a comic novel, too, but the humour is much blacker, tinged by despair at the international situation during the 1930s. The novel centres on a wealthy Kensington family. James Hanson is a self-made … Continue reading

Holdfast by A. G. Street (1946)

Shedding a relatively rare light on the plight of rural England in time of war, this novel by A. G. Street (author of the better-known Farmer’s Glory (1932)) concentrates on the story of a single farm in the south west of England. It centres on the character of Phoebe Carpenter, a young farmer’s wife who … Continue reading

The English Air by D. E. Stevenson (1940)

This novel by Edinburgh-born writer D. E. Stevenson (her father’s cousin was Robert Louis Stevenson) centres upon the story of Franz (‘Frank’) Von Heiden, the son of a Nazi official and an English woman, and is set in the run-up to, and early days of the Second World War. Ostensibly in England on a private … Continue reading

Death at the President’s Lodging (1936) by Michael Innes

Book Review by Sylvia D: Michael Innes’s Death at the President’s Lodging (1936) was the first of many novels and short stories featuring detective, John Appleby, eventually Sir John Appleby, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Writers often give their detectives a particular hobby; P D James’s Adam Dalgleish writes poetry, Susan Hill’s Simon Serailler is … Continue reading