Book Reviews

South Riding by Winifred Holtby (1936)

South Riding was the last published novel of Winifred Holtby (1898 – 1935), released the year after her untimely death at the age of thirty-six. It remains her best-known work and has been adapted several times for various media.

Winifred Holtby was an accomplished British author, journalist, and activist. According to this site’s biography of Holtby:

She also had a successful career in journalism and wrote the first critical study of Virginia Woolf in English. During her lifetime, her fame derived from her work for prominent newspapers and magazines, including the feminist publication Time and Tide. She wrote about democracy and social welfare, feminism and pacifism, education and responsibility, racism and injustice. Read More→

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Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

British author Barbara Pym (1913 – 1980) was often compared to Jane Austen for her comedies of manner; she was called Britain’s “new Jane Austen.Excellent Women was her second novel, published in England in 1952.

Barbara Pym’s novels explore manners and morals in village life with subtle, understated wit and keen insight into human nature that transcends their local flavor. The nine novels published in her lifetime are considered the Pym canon; there were four others published posthumously. Read More→

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The River by Rumer Godden 1946)

The River by Rumer Godden, a 1946 novel, is a coming-of-age tale based on the author’s experiences growing up in the colonized Bengal region of India, now part of Bangladesh.

Like so many of Godden’s novels, this one has a cinematic flavor, and indeed, is one of the nine books by this prolific author to be adapted to film. In the late 1940s, Godden collaborated on the script for the film version of The River. It was directed by Jean Renoir and released in 1951. Read More→

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My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara (1941)

My Friend Flicka, the 1941 novel by Mary O’Hara, is this author’s most enduring work. The ranch living and rugged Wyoming landscape of her personal experience inspired the novel.

A classic that’s for “children of all ages,” My Friend Flicka is the story of Ken McLaughlin, a rancher’s son, and his untamed horse.

Ken’s father, a practical Scotsman, had no patience for his son’s dreaminess, so out of place in the harsh realities of the family’s horse-breeding farm. Ken becomes smitten with a wild colt, who he names Flicka, meaning “little filly.” Read More→

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The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden (1958)

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden is a 1958 coming-of-age novel, crackling with suspense, and portraying love and deceit in the Champagne country in France.

“On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages…” is a  memorable line from this engaging novel based on an incident in Godden’s youth.

Taking place in the shabby hotel of Les Oeillets, once gloriously elegant, the four children of the Grey family find themselves alone with the shady eccentrics who run the hotel. Like many of Godden’s novels, The Greengage Summer was adapted into a 1961 British film starring Kenneth More, Jane Asher, and Susannah York. Read More→

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