Despite having been given ample time to prepare for Simon and Karen‘s The 1938 Club, I’m embarrassed to admit I did not do any pre-reading for this week. For those not yet in the know, The 1938 Club is a week-long celebration of books published in, you guessed it, 1938. The good news is that it runs until Sunday so I have plenty of time to finish my current book (Nightgale Wood by Stella Gibbons).
However, not wanting to wait that long to join the fun, I thought I’d share my thoughts on some 1938 books I’ve already read and reviewed here. It was an excellent year (well chosen, Simon and Karen!) so if you’re still wanting to join in the fun, I’d recommend trying any of these books (listed in order of personal preference):
Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell – “From start to finish, Pomfret Towers was a delight. It is so wonderfully plotted, holding one’s interested evenly from the first page to the last without any of the unevenness that can come when Thirkell is handling a larger cast or less complimentary plots. It stands on its own, independent of the rest of the series, very well and would serve as a wonderful introduction to Thirkell. It really is the ideal country house novel, full of humour, entertaining characters, and plenty of satisfying romantic developments that play out over the course of a few short days.”
Dear Octopus by Dodie Smith – I reread this play about a family coming together to celebrate their parents’ wedding anniversary earlier in the year and it is just as charming a second time around. “The writing is funny, the characters (once you figure out how to keep track of them) mostly endearing, and the story moves along at the perfect pace. It is a delightfully fun book to spend an evening with and I know it is one of those books I will look forward to rereading.”
Ruined City by Nevil Shute – “I wish I belonged to a mostly male book club so we could read Nevil Shute novels all the time and talk about what excellent manly virtues his heroes exhibit. We could sip our whiskey/port/other suitably manly beverage and toss off comments like “but Warren never lost his dignity” and “he sacrificed himself to save an entire town” and then get slightly teary and sentimental and it would all be wonderful.”
Manja by Anna Gmeyner – “…certainly not one of the happy, domestic Persephone titles but it may just be my favourite. It is the story of five young children, four boys and one girl, the eponymous Manja, growing up in Germany during the inter-war period.”
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winnifred Watson – ” In the course of one wonderful, whirlwind day Miss Guinevere Pettigrew, a forty-year old down-trodden governess/maid-for-hire finds herself swept up in the wake of the glamourous Miss LaFosse and, as a result, Miss Pettigrew’s entire outlook is radically altered. It pure fairy tale, fantastical and wonderful, but, as with most fairy tales, there are dark shadows lurking at the edges.”
Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan – “I am always intrigued by and love to read about the relationships between parents and their adult children, especially about mothers who must learn the limits of their influence and control. Princes in the Land proves an excellent guide for what not to do.”
Swiss Sonata by Gwethalyn Graham – A somewhat messy novel set at a Swiss finishing school on the cusp of World War II. Full of poorly drawn characters and hinging on a sloppy plot but it is still features some fascinating Issue discussions, particularly around racism and feminism.
Happy reading everyone!