Category Archives: novels

There’s No Story Here (1944) by Inez Holden

Those of us interested in life in Britain during the First World War have often had cause to envy those researching the Second, who have the records of Mass Observation to supply them with a plenitude of everyday detail, mostly about the dullish routine of everyday life – the sort of stuff that only incidentally […]

Francis Brett Young, D.H.Lawrence and other novelists

I wrote a while ago about Francis Brett Young’s portrayal George Redlake, who is of the wrong sort of middlebrow novelist – flashy, seduced by fashionable ideas, and not interested in people as individuals. His 1930 novel, Jim Redlake contains other novelists, though, apart from the hero’s unsatisfactory father. The most notable is a man […]

A Middlebrow Manifesto

I’m have a fondness for books that manage to include a literary manifesto of some sort, and the openingpages of Francis Brett Young’s Jim Redlake (1930) contain what amounts to a declaration of what a novel ought to be, and how novelists should confront the world. It does so implicitly, by contrast, in its very […]

Marching on Tanga

Now here’s an oddity. The same book, issued by the same publisher. One edition is labelled fiction, the other travels and adventure. From what I can gather the first was published in 1940, the second in 1941. With books about war, it’s often difficult to tell novel from memoir. Novels can contain big chunks of […]

Talking about Rose

This week I gave a Zoom talk about Rose Allatini, at the kind invitation of the Huddersfield University Research Seminars. It was good to do. This year I had three academic conferences lined up at which I was to give a paper, and each of them has either been cancelled, or has disappeared into the […]

The Yoke (1907) by Hubert Wales

I’ve been thinking again recently about Kipling’s literary treatment of syphilis, so am looking around to see how other writers treated the theme during his lifetime. The most common approach is the moralistic: a sinner receives the wages of sin. There were alternatives, though, and I’ve just been reading The Yoke, a scandalous novel of […]

Dean Street Press

This is just a brief note to recommend the excellent Dean Street Press, and their reissues of classic crime novels of the inter-war period. Quite regularly, they whet readers’ appetites by offering free Kindle downloads of some of their books. This week I took advantage of the offer of The Black Cabinet, by Patricia Wentworth […]

Colonel Repington, Arnold Bennett and Lady Constance

I’ve been looking again at a text I’ve neglected for a long while, The First World War, 1914-1918 (1920) by Colonel Repington. It was a book that scored a huge hit at the time of publication – ten editions in a year he claimed. It was something of a succes de scandale, because it was […]

‘the word known to all men’

Tom Deveson’s comment on my Y.Y. post reminds us of Joyce and his linguistic taboo-breaking. Robert Lynd was cautious about this: ‘There are things that even hardened war veterans do not like to see in cold print.’ It’s interesting to see the association of swearing and the war. Even civilians like Lynd had gathered that […]

Tipping a policeman

I’m indulging myself during this tedious lockdown by re-reading Arnold Bennett’s Imperial Palace (1930). At the moment I’m wondering about something that occurs in the episode where dynamic Gracie Savott parks her car outside Smithfield market, and asks a policman to keep an eye on it.On leaving the market, ‘she resumed her dark cloak, tipped […]