Category Archives: novels

Vera Brittain, novelist

‘And you say,’ the Judge continued slowly, ‘that these abnormal conditions are not uncommon as the result of shell-shock?’ ‘That is so, My Lord. If every criminal case in our prisons could be traced back to its origins as exhaustively as this one has been traced, we should probably find war shock, or war anxiety, […]

The York National Book Fair

I hadn’t been to an event like this for a couple of years, so enjoyed my visit to York Racecourse on Friday, to what is billed as Britain’s largest Antiquarian book fair. I didn’t buy much, though. The fair is aimed at book collectors, and I’m more of a book amasser, whose books pile up […]

Ticking off a ghost

  It’s supernatural month at the Sheffield Popular Fiction Reading Group, and I’ve been looking at  Conan Doyle’s The Land of Mist, in which Professor Challenger and the other characters from The Lost World are brought in to explore Conan Doyle’s great obsession – the world of the Beyond, as revealed to spiritualists. Thank goodness […]

‘Red for Danger’ by Evadne Price

With my interest in Evadne Price rekindled by Matt Houlbrook’s biography of Netley Lucas, I thought I’d take a look at one of the novels she wrote after her stint as ‘Helen Zenna Smith’. Red For Danger (1936) belongs to that quintessential inter-war genre, the comedy thriller. There is a plot based on crime, big […]

‘Not So Quiet…’ – Netley Lucas’s story

Having greatly enjoyed Matt Houlbrook’s biography of Netley Lucas, I have now been taking a look at Lucas’s second autobiography, an odd book called My Selves, ‘by Netley Lucas and Evelyn Graham’ (Graham was the name under which Lucas achieved considerable success writing royal biographies). The book was published in 1934, after Lucas’s release from […]

The crook who published ‘Helen Zenna Smith’

In 1917 Netley Lucas was fourteen, but must have looked mature for his age. He got himself an officer’s uniform and used it to run up debts as, for a short but wild period he lived the high life. Inevitably, his luck eventually ran out, and he was sent to Borstal. After some more criminal […]

Modern Troubadours

Thanks to Ann-Marie Einhaus for pointing me towards Lena Ashwell’s 1922 book  Modern Troubadours, an account of the musical and theatrical troupes organised by Miss Ashwell, which took entertainment to soldiers in France and elsewhere. (A digital versioncan be found at the Internet Archive.) Ive just had a skim through so far, and I’m particularly […]

Michèle Audin’s ‘One Hundred Twenty One Days’

This novel (first published in French in 2014) centres on two mathematicians, both damaged in the first world war, and both nursed by the same young woman. Mortsauf has most of his face blown away, so is one of the gueules cassées;  he marries his nurse, becomes a successful academic and achieves a  position of […]

‘A splitarse bus’

V.M. Yeates spots a German aeroplane: It was one of the new DFWs – a nice-looking, very splitarse bus. ‘Splitarsing’ is a frequent word in Winged Victory  It appears in Arnall’s  Portrait of an Airman, too. The context makes it clear that it means ‘making a fast manoeuvre’, and the Oxford English Dictionary gives us […]

Thanatognomonic

I  like discovering words that are new to me. This is from V.M.Yeates, Winged Victory (1934): A flaming meteor fell out of a cloud close by them and plunged earthwards. It was an aeroplane going down in flames from some fight above the clouds. Where it fell the atmosphere was stained by a thanatognomonic black […]