Archive for the ‘B.J. Chute’ Category

This is a much harder post to write than the Worst Books Round-Up, because 2014 was full of excellent reading, and keeping it down to a mere ten choices is extremely hard to do.

Most (all?) are “vintage”, because I was mainly reading books published between 1900 to 1999 as part of a Century of Books project.

Here are the top tennish, loosely organized countdown style from the merely excellent to the very best.

Enjoy.

Books Which Pleased Me Greatly in 2014:

#10

greenwillow hc no dj b j chute 001

Greenwillow 

by B.J. Chute ~ 1956.

A charming rural romance about a young man under a curse, the village maid who loves him, and the two preachers who share the church and differing views on the Devil and Eternal Damnation in the idyllic village of Greenwillow, time and country unknown.

#9

the blank wall elisabeth sanxay holding

The Blank Wall 

by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding ~ 1947

A cleanly written noir novel centered on a devoted mother’s protection of her teenage daughter from a blackmailer after an inconvenient man turns up very dead.

#8

inside daisy clover gavin lambert 1963

Inside Daisy Clover 

by Gavin Lambert ~ 1963

Fictional tale told via the diary of thirteen year old Daisy Clover as she is discovered by a manipulative film magnate and turned into a Hollywood star.

#7

because of the lockwoods dorothy whipple 001

Because of the Lockwoods 

by Dorothy Whipple ~ 1949

The tale of two families and their unequal relationship, due in large part to a secret wrong perpetrated by the father of one family upon the widowed mother of the other. My very first Whipple, but definitely not my last.

#6

love elizabeth von arnim 1925 001

Love 

by Elizabeth von Arnim ~ 1925

Women, aging, and societal unfairness. One of von Arnim’s more serious novels, and deeply poignant.

#5

goodbye to all that robert graves 1929 001

Goodbye to All That 

by Robert Graves ~ 1929

Poet and writer Robert Graves’ outspoken memoir of his school days, time in the Great War trenches, and attempt at post-war normalcy. Opinionated and cranky and exceedingly good.

#4

beyond the blue horizon alexander frater 001chasing the monsoon alexander frater 001 (2)

Beyond the Blue Horizon (1986) and Chasing the Monsoon (1990)

by Alexander Frater

A 1980s air-travel epic, and an examination of the meteorological phenomenon of the Indian summer monsoon. I read both of these while road-tripping, and they were mesmerizing. Just the thing to fall into at the end of a long day: journeyings much more exotic than one’s own, written up with polish and grace. Excellent travel writer whom I was unaware of prior to my on-a-hunch acquisition of Beyond the Blue Horizon; I will be looking for more by him in future.

#3

the houses in between reprint society howard spring 1951 001

The Houses in Between 

by Howard Spring ~ 1951

Fictional autobiography of a 99-year-old woman, 1848-1948. Melodramatic, funny, poignant.

#2

Dodie Smith in 1921, aged 25.

Dodie Smith in 1921, aged 25.

The Dodie Smith Memoirs:

Look Back with Love ~ 1974

Look Back with Mixed Feelings ~ 1978

Look Back with Astonishment ~ 1979

Look Back with Gratitude  ~ 1985

The novelist and playwright turns her attention to herself, and finds much to say about her personal life and times. Dodie Smith’s magnum opus, and, in my opinion, after spending much of the year tracking down and reading her more obscure novels after being bowled over by the wonderful I Capture the Castle some years ago, the best thing she ever wrote. A huge undertaking, reading these, and worth every effort it took to track these mostly out-of-print autobiographies down. 

#1

the sun in scorpio margery sharp 001

The Sun in Scorpio 

by Margery Sharp ~ 1965

Portrait of a girl growing into womanhood and on into middle age, from the beginning of the Great War to the end of World War II. Starting off  on a Mediterranean island near Malta, and progressing quickly to mist-huddled England, Cathy never loses her desire for the warmth of the sun. An unusual book, gloriously cynical and beautifully styled.

Honourable Mentions

In no particular order – just too good to leave off the list. The first three are not yet reviewed – keep an eye out for posts on these in 2015

*****

  • Spring Always Comes by Elizabeth Cambridge ~ 1938 ~ A low-key, thoughtful novel examining the characters of a vicar’s family – mother, father, four children – and the nature of personal fulfillment and one’s larger responsibility to the society one lives in. Started out slowly but drew me in completely. Gorgeous novel.
  • Try Anything Twice by Jan Struther ~ 1938 ~ A collection of essays on a multitude of topics by the author of Mrs Miniver.
  • Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw ~ 1969 ~ A gorgeous bildungsroman concerning the daughter of celebrities who is given a chance to temporarily reinvent herself as a nobody.
  • The Visiting Moon by Celia Furse ~ 1956 ~ Fictionalized memoir of a Victorian childhood Christmas.
  •  by Norah Lofts ~ 1972 ~ Inspired by the real life murder accusation against teenage Constance Kent, this noir suspense novel is chillingly mesmerizing. Did Charlotte kill her young stepbrother? And if not, who did?
  • Pomp and Circumstance by Noel Coward ~ 1960 ~ Too silly for belief, but absolutely charming. A sun-drenched fictional island prepares for a Royal Visit.
  • Beowulf  by Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman) ~ 1948 ~ A London teashop in the Blitz is at the heart of this linked series of vignettes and character portraits.

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