Posted by George Simmers

Mrs Frensham Describes a Circle (1943) by Richmal Crompton

Book review by George S: Mrs Frensham Describes a Circle is about an extended family in an English country town during the Blitz. Richmal Crompton shows how the war brings out different responses in the varied personalities of the family, and suggests which temperaments are best able to deal with a historical crisis.

Poor Caroline (1931) by Winifred Holtby

Book review by Sylvia D:  Poor Caroline is a satire in which Holtby pokes fun at the worlds of philanthropy and religion but also introduces other themes: the loneliness and frustrations of old age, the position of women in interwar society, and the lingering impact of the First World War on those who fought in … Continue reading

The Vanity Girl (1920) by Compton Mackenzie

Book review by Sylvia D: When Compton Mackenzie’s The Vanity Girl (the copy I read being the Remploy reprint of 1973) was first published in 1920 by Macdonald, it was dedicated to Mackenzie’s sister, Fay Compton, the actress. When it was republished in 1954, Mackenzie (1883-1972) re-wrote the original dedication, with the words ‘Dearest Fay, … Continue reading

Gallipoli Memories (1929) by Compton Mackenzie

Book Review by George S. We’ve been reading fiction by Compton Mackenzie this month, but I deviated from the brief slightly by reading an example of his non-fiction. He published Gallipoli Memories in 1929, fourteen years after his participation in the unsuccessful military campaign. He tells us that he had spent years pursuing ‘that elusive … Continue reading

Enduring Adventure (1944) by Norah C. James

Book Review by Sylvia D: Norah C[ordner] James (1896-1979) came from a wealthy Hampstead family and the British Library catalogue lists more than 70 books written by her, mainly novels but also cookery and children’s books. Some were co-written with Barbara Beauchamp, James’s partner for the second half of her life. All the novels she … Continue reading

The Three Miss Kings by Ada Cambridge

Book review by Sylvia D: The Three Miss Kings by Ada Cambridge (1844-1926) was serialised in The Australasian in 1883. It was then published by Heinemann in England and Australia in 1891 and I read a Virago 1987 edition.

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