Category Archives: Romance

Valerie French

Anthony Lyveden by Dornford Yates is one of the books that I shall be discussing in my paper on landscape in twenties novels later this week. It’s a strange book that starts as a light comedy about an ex-officer who can only find work as a servant, and then lurches unpredictably into a gothic mode. […]

Wodehouse and Wittgenstein

During my Dornford Yates talk at the Newcastle Great War and Popular Culture conference earlier this year, I got an unexpected laugh (as well as some chuckles I’d planned for). It was when I quoted Wittgenstein saying: “I couldn’t understand the humour in Journey’s End.… I wouldn’t want to joke about a situation like that.” […]

A Photo of Keable

This photo of Keable and Jolie (his real-life Julie) was taken in Tahiti in 1923. How respectable they look. Who would guess from this photo that they were a couple whose sexual shennanigans had scandalised the Church Times? But as my mother used to say, it’s always the quiet ones…

Kitty V

I’ve finished the book. What interests me is the way that Warwick Deeping has mixed together so many of the familiar motifs from novels about healing men damaged by the war. These are: The love of a good woman. Generous caring Kitty gives tough love and provides what his possessive mother could not. The countryside. […]

Kitty IV

Page 330 and I like the book more than I did yesterday. When Kitty couldn't reach her husband (kidnapped by possessive mum) she made practical plans for looking after him when they got together again (as she was determined they would). Her plans involve setting up a business, a tea-and-dancing place on the banks of […]

Kitty III

I'm on page 206. At first I thought that Kitty seemed more or less free from the misogyny that permeates Sorrell and Son. In that book, the hero recoils in distate from the predatory women who want to exercise their wiles on him – throughout the book female sexuality is represented as loathesome (though the pretty […]

Kitty II

Well, I’m at page 100 now, and things are developing fast. The two young ones have got married, and he’s gone off to the trenches without telling his icy mother about the wedding. When he informs her by letter, she goes to see the bride. She’s predictably unimpressed, and now she’s going to cut off […]


I've had Warwick Deeping's Kitty (1927) on my shelves for a month or two, and have been reluctant to get into it. Deeping's Sorrell and Son is such a cloying book – emotionally powerful, cleverly written, but you feel you're being dragged to places you'd rather not go. If you don't know that book, it's […]

Berta Ruck and Virginia Woolf

One of the authors mentioned in Jane Potter's paper on Wednesday was a romantic novelist called Berta Ruck, author of Khaki and Kisses, etc. Wanting to find out a bit more about this author, I did some idle googling, and came across the following story: When writing Jacob's Room, Woolf used the name Bertha Ruck […]


At Brookes today, Jane Potter gave a paper called: ‘Hardly Worth Reading?’: the Great War Romance Novel.. “Hardly worth reading” was the snooty comment of one reviewer about the romantic fiction that Jane analyses in her Boys in Khaki: Girls in Print. Jane gave a good tough defence of her right to study the genre. […]