Many of you already know about this “retrospective literary review” published by Shirley Neilson, who is also the force behind Greyladies Books. I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since I received my first issue, and hey, a year later isn’t really all that bad by my standards!
What exactly, you might ask, is a retrospective literary review? Well, in short, it’s a little slice of heaven, but if you require a more detailed definition, it’s a journal composed of reviews of novels, mysteries, and children’s books, as well as related features. But instead of focusing on newly-published titles and contemporary themes, as would most literary reviews, The Scribbler focuses on older titles—both those that are recognized as classics and those that many readers will likely never have come across. Most, but not all, of the authors featured are British women, which helps to explain why I've started carefully rationing my reading of each issue and dread the moment that I finish and the joy ends until the next issue.
In other words, it’s a bit like a blog, only far more organized and carefully considered (than this blog, at any rate!), and with the added pleasure of holding a real live book-like object in your hands while enjoying it. And a beautifully produced object, no less.
Each issue includes themed reviews, which thus far have included subjects like “Novels set in Girls’ Schools,” “The Older Woman,” “Shop Girls,” “The Lady Doctor,” and, in the newest issue (which I have not yet allowed myself to begin, for fear I’ll run out of pages before the holidays), “Christmas.” For each theme, there’s a wide variety of books for all tastes, reviewed by Shirley and her crack team of contributors, including names some of you will know, such as Rosemary Auchmuty, Hilary Clare, and Sue Sims. (By the way, be sure to read even the "Contributors" page, which can be entertaining in itself—I particularly enjoy, in issue no. 2, the mention of "pledging the books". But you'll have to read it to find out what it means!)
In addition to reviews, there are several recurring features, including author spotlights (in the second issue, a tantalizing passage from one of Mabel Esther Allan’s privately-published and impossible-to-find memoirs), “Books That Changed My Life” (my favorite is Shirley’s in the debut issue, on the unquestionably appropriate Shirley: Young Bookseller), a Food Page (meal-related excerpts from novels), and short stories by favorite authors such as D. E. Stevenson and Evelyn Smith. And after tantalizing us with references to all these books, The Scribbler features, in its last pages, a bibliography of all the books mentioned, to mercilessly add to our TBR lists and bookbuying splurges.
My own TBR list has grown by at least 25 titles as a result of The Scribbler, and that without having dipped into issue no. 4. Good heavens.