This update is already giving me a headache. It's comprised of 15 more authors of (mainly) general fiction—all of whom wrote at least one book that seems like something I just have to track down and actually read. Which means that my already rather intimidating "to read" list just got a lot longer. Ah, the tribulations of an obsessive compulsive blogger!
PAMELA ARUNDALE—who from what I can tell is on the rather short list of writers from my blog's years who are happily still living—seems to have published only one novel, but it sounds irresistible. About Bread and Olives the Spectator wrote:
Set in a Cyprus hard to recognise, it is an entertaining concoction of episodes at the village of Pefka, whose inhabitants form as varied a set of rogues and practical jokers as the indomitably cheerful Mrs. Morrow could ever have longed to meet. … A breath of South Wind sometimes steals over the island and there are moments, far apart though they may be, when Mrs. Morrow recalls Rose Macaulay's 'Aunt Dot.'
The plot sounds entertaining enough, but throw in a comparison to Rose Macaulay's amazing The Towers of Trebizond, one of my all-time favorite novels, and you know I'm hooked.
EILEEN BIGLAND wrote several intriguing books about her experiences travelling in Russia, beginning with Laughing Odyssey (1937), which the New York Times called "delightful," but her fiction is also intriguing. Of the semi-autobiographical Gingerbread House (1934) Contemporary Authors said: "It tells of Sandra Pym, a young dreamer of mixed heritage who grows up running herd on her family full of eccentrics." If you've exhausted the supply of eccentric family novels discussed by Nicola Humble, here's one to check out!
|Illustration from Agnes Castle's|
If Youth But Knew
It's difficult to find out much about SYBIL BOLITHO, whose early novel A Fiddle for Eighteenpence (1927) is about two girls travelling in France and whose My Shadow as I Pass (1934) is a sentimental tribute to her late husband. But her collaboration with her next husband, Mrs. Rudd Writes Home (1936), about an eccentric theatre company staging The Pilgrim's Progress in Verona, could be of interest?
|Illustration from Florence Kilpatrick's Our Elizabeth|
AGNES CASTLE might have been an influence on Georgette Heyer, and the light, humorous, romantic novels of FLORENCE KILPATRICK, DOROTHY LAMBERT, and CONSTANCE ISABEL SMITH could admittedly go either way. Humorous romance is much more difficult to pull off than it looks, I think, but who knows? One of these might be another Elizabeth Cadell or Margery Sharp.
On the more serious side, ANNE CRONE, KATHARINE MORRIS, and ESMÉ WYNNE-TYSON are among those many authors who received critical acclaim in their day (Lord Dunsany called Anne Crone's Bridie Steen "one of the great novels of our time"!), but all have been more or less buried in the sands of time. I'd love to find the time to dust them off a bit…
|Bridget Chetwynd, from Getty Images|
BRIDGET CHETWYND wrote in several genres, and they all intrigue me. Sleeping and Waking (1944), about women's lives in World War II, sounds like my cup of tea, while Future Imperfect (1946) is an early science-fiction tale about a world run by women. She later wrote two detective novels, Death Has Ten Thousand Doors (1951) and Rubies, Emeralds and Diamonds (1952), which seem like must-reads. Both feature Petunia Best, a former WAAF, and former British Intelligence officer Max Frend, who run their own detective agency.
HETTY SPIERS began as a costume designer for theatre and for early British silent films, but progressed to screenwriting and then, with her husband Herbert Langford Reed, to writing three novels. The last of these, The Mantle of Methuselah (1939), sounds absolutely seductive. The Catholic Herald said of it:
A devoted middle aged couple happened upon an Elixir of Life. The husband takes it and becomes on the spot an exuberant and high-spirited youth. Complications follow, and they are described with a sort of fluent humour that suits the theme, Pamela loves her husband and finds no comfort In the elusive and exasperating boy who has taken his place. Her desperate attempt to reunite herself with her husband brings about a crisis.
PADDY SYLVANUS is another author who could perhaps be very good or, well, not. But the short descriptions I've found from various sources about her novels do pique my interest. Ten to One in Sweden (1929) is apparently a diary-novel describing the author's own time as a governess in Sweden. Too Saucy with the Gods (1931) is: "A novel of young English people before the World War, revolving around the romance of a madcap heroine with her cousin, who is in the diplomatic service." And Thunder in the Offing (1946), is about a West Country village “in which the inhabitants lead their own secret lives. A place where love, hate, and superstition mingle to strange effect.” Hmmmm.
And JOYCE COBB, who wrote only one novel praised for its "delicate grace and understanding and humor," and UPTON GRAY, who wrote three forgotten novels of country life, are perhaps long shots, but you just never know where you might come across a really worthwhile favorite—it happened (for me) with Celia Buckmaster, so perhaps it could happen again with Cobb or Gray?
The short bios for all 15 authors are below, and all have already been added to the main list. Hope you find something intriguing!