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

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