Business as Usual, a very enjoyable novel of 1933 by Jane Oliver and Ann Stafford, is about a world of working women in London in the early 1930s, with the breadline looming very close, and the terror of knowing that one week's salary lies between you and the street. Pennies are counted, stockings are darned, … Continue reading Business as Usual: Selfridges in the 1930s
Shall I count the ways in which I love this novel? It's a joy to read, easy and deep and delightful. It made me cry. I bought it on holiday and I loved it. It's snort-out-loud funny. It's utterly fascinating if you're not 28 and not from Ireland, like discovering a world of linguistic delights. … Continue reading Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling
I pounced on this short story collection in a second-hand bookshop in the Lanes in Brighton, silently crying 'Why have I never heard of you before?' (and on typing that I realised that I really must, MUST join the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society, and did so.) I hadn't paid enough attention to STW's short story … Continue reading Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Music at Long Verney
I took a while to get into this sturdy family saga: it was blocking the reading pile for weeks while I struggled to pay it proper attention. Then something clicked, and the peculiarities of The Fountain Overflows (1956) began to attract my attention. At first I thought that it was rather like Rose Macaulay’s Told … Continue reading Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows
I must be one of the last people among the middlebrow fanciers to have read Beverley Nichols. He is perfect bedtime reading: light, frivolous, witty, of an earlier period so there won't be anything nasty in the woodshed, and unexpectedly moving. I first noticed his existence in a delightfully poisonous parody in Leonard Russell's immortal … Continue reading The shrine of Beverley Nichols: should one worship?
From time to time I binge on Discworld. This week, on holiday, I’ve been rereading some of the Terry Pratchett novels that tackle bigotry and racism. They are deeply satisfying combings from the beard of his invention. They don't offer a unified theory of how people could be nice to each other, but they are … Continue reading Pratchett on bigotry
This time in the Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up I’m reading a novel of utter frivolity. It’s called Dodo’s Daughter, and is a sequel to the earlier and unforgettably frivolous novel of Edwardian society life, Dodo. Dodo is a ditzy lady, invented by that great chronicler of society silliness, E F Benson. Nowadays … Continue reading E F Benson and Dodo’s Daughter