Posted by George Simmers

The Winding Lane (1931) by Philip Gibbs

Book Review by George S: Philip Gibbs’s books have been described as ‘newsreel novels’. Typically they take a topic from the headlines and build a story round it. Often this was done at high speed – one of the best, Young Anarchy, about the General Strike, appeared in September, 1926, just a few months after … Continue reading

Of Love and Hunger (1942) by Julian Maclaren-Ross

This 1942 novel by J. Maclaren-Ross draws extensively on the author’s experience as a vacuum-cleaner salesman before the war. It is the story of Fanshawe, a man living a precarious debt-ridden life, just about surviving by doing a job he despises.

One Pair of Feet (1942) by Monica Dickens

Book Review by George S: One Pair of Feet is Monica Dickens’ 1942 fictionalised memoir of her time as a hospital nurse during the early years of the second world war. Its title marks it as a successor to her earlier book, One Pair of Hands, which had recorded her experiences when, breaking free of … Continue reading

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