Posted in February 2014

The Vanguard: A Fantasia by Arnold Bennett (1927)

Review by George Simmers: The Vanguard is one of Arnold Bennett’s lighter novels, a story of the (mostly good-humoured)  rivalry between two very rich men. Septimius Sutherland, a financier visiting Naples, is tricked into boarding a luxury yacht, which then sets sail, effectively kidnapping him. The owner is an even  richer man, Lord Furber, who for unclear … Continue reading

Riceyman Steps by Arnold Bennett (1923)

Review by Helen N: I found the book very easy to read. Bennett’s style is straightforward and he paints a vivid picture of the Clerkenwell area of London just after the First World War. There is a small cast of people: Henry Earlforward, a reclusive and miserly bookseller and Mrs. Violet Arb, a widow,  meet … Continue reading

Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett (1910)

Next some reviews of a very well-known novelist, Arnold Bennett (1867-1931). Probably the most well-known novelist we have read in the 1900-1950 reading group, Bennett was greatly enjoyed by most members of the group. I know Bennett best not for his novels, but for the way he was regarded in the 1920s and 1930s by Virginia … Continue reading

Love on the Supertax by Marghanita Laski (1944)

Review by Jane V: Lady Clarissa, daughter of a Duke, lives with her parents in their rundown mansion in Mayfair. All their servants have gone to join the war effort so the family is left living in squalid conditions, quite unable to cook and manage a household for themselves.  They have lost most of their … Continue reading

Mandoa, Mandoa! by Winifred Holtby (1933)

Review by Judith W: Mandoa is a small African state rarely visited by westerners where the traditions remain undisturbed, until the Lord High Chamberlain, Safi Talal visits Addis Ababa where he discovers luxuries of the western world: baths, cocktail shakers, cars, cutlery and handkerchiefs. Back in England it is 1931. Maurice Durrant, a Director of … Continue reading

Parody Party edited by Leonard Russell (1936)

We had a lovely reading group last month where we read books selected from the collection because they been tagged as ‘satire’ or ‘parody’. I hoped Thecla would chose Parody Party as her knowledge of the fiction of the period is amazingly extensive! I thought she would enjoy it, and so it proved. (Parody Party … Continue reading

The Little Soul by Elinor Mordaunt (1920)

A very odd sounding novel, this, but notable for a sympathetic portrayal of a doctor who performs abortions. Review by Sue R: A  dramatic novel  set before and during World War One, it relates the story of Charles Hoyland,  “the little soul” of the title, and how he loses it. The epigraph at the beginning … Continue reading

The Garden of Contentment by Elinor Mordaunt (1902)

Is this book fiction? Our reader, Mary, wasn’t sure. Like Elizabeth and her German Garden (1898) (which is mentioned in this book) it isn’t entirely clear! The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English – which has a very short entry for Mordaunt – says this book was written while she was in Mauritius, drawing on … Continue reading

Prelude to Death by Elinor Mordaunt (1936)

Review by Sylvia D: Prelude to Death is unusual in that it starts with an Epilogue which is continued at intervals throughout the narrative.  However, as the author explains in her Foreword, the Epilogue ‘seems the only way in which she can express her own sense of one’s entire life being nothing more than a … Continue reading