The Trials of Hank Janson (2004) by Steve Holland

Book review by George S.: Hank Janson (pronounced Yanson) was, to the embarrassment of the respectable, Britain’s best-selling author in the late forties and early fifties. This excellent book describes the career of  Stephen Frances, the man behind the pseudonym, and gives a very full account of the attempts of various authorities to censor the … Continue reading

Skin-Deep (1927) by Naomi Royde-Smith

Book Review by George S: Naomi Royde-Smith is probably best-remembered for her career as a literary journalist, first on the Westminster Gazette (where she ran the celebrated competition pages) and later on Time and Tide, but she also wrote twenty-six novels. These gained respectful reviews, but were not hugely successful at the time, and have … Continue reading

Proud Waters (1954) by Ewart Brookes

Book review by George Simmers: Minesweepers were among the less glamorous naval vessels during the Second World War, but the work they did was vital. Ewart Brookes’s novel is closely based on his own experience commanding a minesweeper patrol ship. His hero, Lieutenant William Haley, RNVR, is at first disappointed to be transferred from a … Continue reading

We (1924) by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Book review by Alice C: ‘You look in bad shape. You look as if you’re developing a soul’. I read this dystopian novel in The Second Lockdown. On page 12 we’re told of the Table of Hours, where one’s life, one’s comings and goings, are mapped out in a familiar and comforting timetable and of … Continue reading

Humbug (1921) by E.M. Delafield

Book Review by G.S.: Humbug is a very good novel, yet another reminder that there is more to E.M. Delafield than the Provincial Lady ( excellent as that is). Like many of her novels of the early twenties, it is an impassioned plea for honesty. It begins with the splendid sentence: Good women know by … Continue reading

Before Lunch, (1939) by Angela Thirkell

Book Review by Hilary Temple Written in 1938 and unclouded by any rumours of war, this novel is surprisingly filmic compared with Thirkell’s previous and subsequent Barsetshire titles. In the opening chapter we watch an irritable middle-aged man looking out of his bedroom window. We are not told who he is until a horse-drawn farm … Continue reading

Blood Royal (1929) by Dornford Yates

Book review by George Simmers: This is the third of Dornford Yates’s ‘Chandos’ novels, and the first not to feature Jonah Mansel. Mansel had followed the Bulldog Drummond pattern for a twenties action hero – he was an ex-soldier sorting out peacetime problems by bringing into play the attitudes and skills learned in war. In … Continue reading