Swans on an Autumn River by Sylvia Townsend Warner

One of the reasons I never make ‘end of year’ lists of best books until the last possible moment (more or less – I don’t spend New Year’s Eve parties typing away) is because sometimes I read something brilliant in the last few days of the year. And picking up Swans on an Autumn River (1966) by Sylvia Townsend Warner, I’m glad I’ve waited. (It was published as A Stranger with a Bag in the UK, but I’ve gone with the title of the edition I have.)

This is my second collection of short stories by Warner, and it’s just as brilliant as the first one I read (The Museum of Cheats). The more I read by her, the more I think – with the possible exception of the brilliant Lolly Willowes – that short stories were truly her metier, rather than novels. She somehow puts humanity powerfully into these curious, wise, and very adeptly controlled short pieces.

Warner is exceptionally good at first lines. They aren’t the pithy, quotable sort that are laboriously placed as some sort of diving board, after which the tone of the story becomes much more natural – we all know that variety, and they are indeed fun to quote, but don’t always sit well with the rest of the narrative. Warner captures your attention, but there is no jolt as we move from the first sentence to the second. Here are a few of them:

We had divorced in amity; when we met again after the statutory six months we found each other such good company that we agreed to go on meeting from time to time. (‘A Jump Ahead’)

From that morning when he woke to the sound of the first autumnal gale lashing like a caged tiger against the house fronts and knew with physical infallibility that after all he was going to recover, Guy Stoat burned with impatience to get out of the County Hospital and go home. (‘The View of Rome’)

As he quitted the Aer Lingus plane from Liverpool and set foot for the first time in his life on Irish soil, he was already a disappointed man. (‘Swans on an Autumn River’)

My favourite story of the collection is the first one, ‘A Stranger with a Bag’. In it, a travelling salesman notices a rickety old house out of his train window for the first time, and – on an uncharacteristic impulse – decides to go and see it. Warner weaves together his imaginative journey with the one he actually takes, putting both into simple sentences, so the reader is (for a while) unsure whether things like ‘he walked towards the house’ are actually happening or not. The scene he finds is unexpected, to him and to the reader, and the title shows Warner’s tilts of perspective – as he realises that, to the household, he is just a stranger with a bag.

I like it so much because it mixes elements of fairy tale with the unshakably mundane. Warner is very good at scene-setting and buildings – she shows us the house from a distance and then close-up, knowing that a house is very different from these perspectives, and somehow conveying it in her writing.

Other topics she looks at are the visit of a young relative to his grandmother and great-aunt, and the clash of his recollections of them with the real experience; a new wife and an old wife collaborating unexpectedly; a disturbing picnic. Many more. In perhaps her most famous short story, ‘A Love Match’, a brother and sister quietly become a couple.

A few of the stories feel a little too dramatic at their climax – the title story, ‘Swans on an Autumn River’, perhaps falls into that category – but, at her finest, she is brilliant at undercutting a reader’s expectations and, in doing so, showing a truer, brighter light on human nature. And that doesn’t mean that she always sees the worst – she sees past either cynicism or pollyannaism into the heart of what makes people who they are.

Stuck in a Book’s Weekend Miscellany

I’m writing this a few days before the weekend, and I’m already feeling a little bit ropey… fingers crossed I don’t spend the actual weekend in bed, since I’m supposed to be visiting a friend of mine. Eek. But anyway, here’s a link, a blog post, and a book nonetheless…

1.) The link – is the most fascinating true story I’ve read in ages.

2.) The blog post – is Harriet’s review of Sylvia Townsend Warner’s brilliant collection of short stories, Swans on an Autumn River. I also loved this, but she writes about it way better.

3.) The book – I’ve still never read any Rose Tremain, though am intending to read The Gustav Sonata at some point (and have it waiting) – but I see her childhood memoir is coming out in April, and I feel sure some of you would want to know…

My Best Books of 2017

I always love sitting down at the end of the year and compiling my favourite reads of the past 12 months. Often I haven’t really noticed whether it’s been a good or bad year (reading-wise) until I do this – and I’d say 2017 has been steadily very good. Only one of the books I read is likely to find its way onto my all-time faves, but there were dozens that I’d have been very happy to see on an end of year list. And it’s been a very good year for mid-century books!

 

My usual rules for myself apply – only one book by each author can feature, and no re-reads. Each title links back to my review. Here they are, from #10 to #1…

 

Rachel and I read this for ‘Tea or Books?‘ back in February, comparing it another novel about the Thompson/Bywaters murder case (E.M. Delafield’s Messalina of the Suburbs). It’s probably the podcast ep I’m proudest of, as I think this comparison is fascinating – and FTJ’s exquisite novel won that podcast decision and tenth place on my list.

 

When I read Howards End is on the Landing, there was never any doubt that it would be my favourite book that year. I’ve eagerly awaited the sort-of-sequel ever since, and I did absolutely love it. The only reasons it isn’t higher are that I wanted more about books, and perhaps slightly fewer bizarre pronouncements from Hill. Still, nobody else could have written quite this book.

 

I’ve read any number of Taylor novels, and read this one for a conference on Undervalued British Women Writers 1930-1960. It’s more dramatic and dark than many of Taylor’s novels, but absorbingly brilliantly brilliant.

 

Look, I’m never going to get over how much I love the title of this book – which looks at the history of the ‘Shakespeare authorship question’ over the years. Shapiro saves his unanswerable reasons for being pro-Shakespeare until the final chapter; before this he is wise, amusing, and thorough.

 

This quirky, brilliant novel is a masterpiece of unusual structuring, and entirely beguiling. It was also given to me by a friend who died this year, which makes it (and her recommendation) all the more special.

 

I’ve yet to write a review of this one, but I’ve linked to the podcast episode where we compared it to Eden’s other novel, The Semi-Attached Couple. This is a very funny, very arch novel in the mould of Austen, elevating itself past imitation into something rather wonderful.

 

Also published as A Stranger With a Bag, I only reviewed this collection of short stories a week or so ago – I’m glad I waited to make my Best Books list, because these observant, calm, insightful stories are a thought-provoking delight.

 

I reviewed this over at Shiny New Books, and it’s a hilarious account of a year in the life of a Scottish bookseller. Bythell is quite cynical and snarky, but if your sense of humour overlaps with his then you’ll laugh and laugh – as well as getting a glimpse into the Promised Land.

 

This was a slow burn, and had to be read gradually, but it was one of the most rewarding reads I’ve had in a while. Timothy Casson is a writer who moves to a small village in wartime and wants boating rights on the river – of such small things are masterpieces made. Rachel and I will be discussing this one in the new year…

 

It truly has been the Year of Beverley. I’ve read quite a lot of books by him this year, but I had to pick the one which kicked off my Beverley love affair – I read Merry Hall for the 1951 Club, and never looked back. This (presumably heightened) account of buying a house and doing up the garden is hilarious, charming, and (praise be!) the beginning of a trilogy. Don’t wait as long as I did to read Beverley – if you haven’t yet, make 2018 the year you read him!

Tea or Books? #49: Death of the Author?, and The Woman in White vs Possession

Wilkie Collins, A.S. Byatt, and the death of the author (sort of) – episode 49 is quite the mixed bag.


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I found it quite hard to describe the first half of this episode – though hopefully it will become clear! – and probably the best thing to do is to tell you how Karen described it when she sent us the suggestion (thanks Karen!). Here goes: ‘is it legitimate to read a biography to shed light on an author’s work, possibly colouring/enhancing your interpretation, or should the novels be allowed to stand alone as works of art and appreciated for themselves, independent of their creator?’

In the second half, we compare The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and Possession by A.S. Byatt – Victorian vs neo-Victorian – and I Have Thoughts.

In the next episode, we’ll be doing a Q&A – any questions welcomed; pop them in the comments – and early next year we’ve each chosen a book we really think the other one will love. And we reveal them to each other at the end of this episode…

The books and authors we discussed in this episode are:

Swans on an Autumn River by Sylvia Townsend Warner (as published as Stranger With A Bag)
Katherine Mansfield
‘The Phoenix’ by Sylvia Townsend Warner
The Element of Lavishness by Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell
Victoria: a Life by A.N. Wilson
Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker by A.N. Wilson
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Virginia Woolf
Mrs Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light
Ivy Compton-Burnett
Agatha Christie
Forever England by Alison Light
Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster
Letters From Menabilly by Daphne du Maurier and Oriel Malet
William Shakespeare
Beryl Bainbridge
Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley
John Clare
Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh
Elena Ferrante
Dan Brown
A.A. Milne
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andulusia by Penelope Chetwode
John Betjeman
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
No Name by Wilkie Collins
The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
The Matisse Stories by A.S. Byatt
The Garrick Year by Margaret Drabble
The Millstone by Margaret Drabble
The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
The Boat by L.P. Hartley
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

All Book Reviews

3191 Blog – A Year of Mornings

Ackland, Valentine – For Sylvia
Adams, Poppy – The Behaviour of Moths
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi – Americanah
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi – The Thing Around Your Neck
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi – Purple Hibiscus
Aira, César – The Literary Conference
Ali, Sabahattin – Madonna in a Fur Coat
Alpha of the Plough – Leaves in the Wind
Anand, Mulk Raj – Untouchable
Anderson, Sarah – Halfway to Venus
Ardizzone, Edward – The Young Ardizzone
Arlen, Michael – The Green Hat
Arthur, Anthony – Literary Feuds
Ashworth, Jenn – A Kind of Intimacy
Ashworth, Jenn – Fell
Athill, Diana – Stet 
Athill, Diana – Somewhere Towards the End 
Athill, Diana – Midsummer Night at the Workhouse
Atwood, Margaret – The Penelopiad
Austen, Jane – Northanger Abbey
Ayckbourn, Alan – The Crafty Art of Playmaking
Ayckbourn, Alan – Relatively Speaking

Bailey, Jenna – Can Any Mother Help Me?
Bailey, Paul – At the Jerusalem
Bainbridge, Beryl – Injury Time
Bainbridge, Beryl – Sweet William
Bainbridge, Beryl – Something Happened Yesterday
Bainbridge, Beryl – The Bottle Factory Outing
Bainbridge, Beryl – Another Part of the Wood
Baines, Elizabeth – Balancing on the Edge of the World
de Balzac, Honore – Sarrasine
Baker, Dorothy – Young Man With a Horn
Baker, Dorothy – The Street
Baker, Frank – Before I Go Hence
Baker, Frank – Miss Hargreaves
Baker, Frank – Miss Hargreaves (second review)
Baker, Frank – Miss Hargreaves : the play
Baker, Frank – Stories of the Strange and Sinister
Baker, Frank – Mr. Allenby Loses The Way
Baker, Frank – I Follow But Myself
Baker, Frank – The Birds
Banks, Lynne Reid – The L-Shaped Room
Barbal, Maria – Stone in a Landslide
Barbery, Muriel – The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Barbery, Muriel – The Gourmet
Barford, Mirren and John Lewes – Joy Street: A Wartime Romance in Letters 1940-42
Barnes, Julian – The Sense of an Ending
Bates, H.E. – Fair Stood The Wind For France
Bauby, Jean-Dominique – The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly
Barnard, Robert – A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie
Bawden, Nina – A Woman of My Age
Beaton, Cecil – Ashcombe
Beauman, Ned – Boxer, Beetle
Beauman, Ned – The Teleportation Accident
Beauman, Ned – Glow
Beauman, Nicola – The Other Elizabeth Taylor
Bedford, Sybille – A Favourite of the Gods
Bedford, Sybille – Pleasures and Landscapes
Beerbohm, Max – More
Beerbohm, Max – Zuleika Dobson
Beha, Christopher – The Whole Five Feet
Behrman, S.N. – Duveen
Bell, Quentin – Bloomsbury
Benatar, Stephen – Wish Her Safe At Home
Benedictus, David – Return to the Hundred Acre Wood
Bennett, Alan – The Uncommon Reader
Bennett, Alan – The History Boys
Bennett, Arnold – The Old Wives’ Tale
Bennett, Arnold – Literary Taste
Bennett, Arnold – Our Women
Benson, E.F. – The Mapp & Lucia series
Benson, E.F. – Secret Lives
Benson, E.F. – Daisy’s Aunt
Benson, E.F. – The Osbornes
Benson, Stella – Living Alone
Benson, Stella – I Pose
Benson, Stella – This Is The End
Benson, Theodora – Muddling Through
Bentley, Nicolas – How Can You Bear To Be Human?
Betts, P.Y. – People Who Say Goodbye
Bielenberg, Christabel – The Past is Myself
Biggers, Earl Derr – Love Insurance
Bioy Casares, Adolfo – The Invention of Morel
Bioy Casares, Adolfo – Asleep in the Sun
Bioy Casares, Adolfo & Silvina Ocampo – Where There’s Love, There’s Hate
Birchall, Diana – Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma
Birchall, Diana – The Compleat Mrs. Elton
Blackburn, Julia – Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske
Blom, Philipp – The Simmons Papers
Bloom, Ursula – The ABC of Authorship
Blyton, Enid – The St. Clare’s series
Bodger, Joan – How The Heather Looks
Bombeck, Erma – At Wit’s End
Bonnet, Jacques – Phantoms on the Bookshelf
Border, Terry – Bent Objects
Bostridge, Mark (ed.) – Lives For Sale: Biographers’ Tales
Bowen, Elizabeth – The Last September
Bowen, Elizabeth – The House in Paris
Bowen, Elizabeth – To The North
Bowles, Jane – Two Serious Ladies
Bradbury, Ray – Dandelion Wine
Braine, John – Room at the Top
Brand, Millen – The Outward Room
Brandenburg, Molly – Everyday Cat Excuses
Bridge, Ann – Illyrian Spring
Briggs, Raymond – Ethel & Ernest
Brinton, Sybil G. – Old Friends and New Fancies
Brittney, Lynn – Christine Kringle
Brookner, Anita – Hotel du Lac
Brophy, Brigid – Hackenfeller’s Ape
Brosh, Allie – Hyperbole and a Half
Brotherton, Rob – Suspicious Minds
Brown, George Mackay – Andrina and other stories
Bryson, Bill – Shakespeare
Buck, Pearl S. – The Good Earth
Bude, John – Death on the Riviera
Burney, Frances – Evelina
Buzbee, Lewis – The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop
Byars, Betsy – The Midnight Fox

Cameron, Peter – Coral Glynn
Campbell, Jen – Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops 

Camus, Albert – The Outsider
Cannan, Joanna – Princes in the Land
Capek, Karel – Letters From England
Capote, Truman – In Cold Blood 
Carey, Edward – Alva & Irva
Carey, Edward – Observatory Mansions
Carhart, Thad – The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
Carlton, Harold – Marrying Out
Carr, J. L. – A Month In The Country
Carr, J.L. – A Day in Summer
Carroll, Lewis – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 
Carter, Angela – Wise Children 
Cartwright, Justin – This Secret Garden: Oxford Revisited
Cavanagh, Mary – The Crowded Bed
Cavanagh, Mary – A Seriously Useful Author’s Guide to Marketing and Publicising Books
Chandos, Dane – Abbie
Chatto, Beth and Christopher Lloyd – Dear Friend and Gardener
Chesterton, G.K. – The Man Who Was Thursday 
Cholmondeley, Mary – Red Pottage
Chopin, Kate – Portraits
Christie, Agatha – The Murder at the Vicarage
Christie, Agatha – The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Christie, Agatha – One, Two, Buckle My Shoe 
Christie, Agatha – Dumb Witness
Christie, Agatha – Five Little Pigs
Christie, Agatha – The Seven Dials Mystery
Christie, Agatha – Elephants Can Remember
Christie, Agatha – Curtain
Christie, Agatha – Mrs McGinty’s Dead
Christie, Agatha – Murder in the Mews
Christie, Agatha – Hallowe’en Party
Christie, Agatha – They Came to Baghdad
Clapp, Susannah – A Card From Angela Carter
Coetzee, J. M. – Foe
Colegate, Isabel – The Shooting Party
Coles, William – The Well-Tempered Clavier
Colette – The Other One
Collier, John – His Monkey Wife 
Colquhoun, Kate – Mr. Brigg’s Hat
Compton-Burnett, Ivy – A House and Its Head
Compton-Burnett, Ivy – Parents and Children
Compton-Burnett, Ivy – Manservant & Maidservant

Compton-Burnett, Ivy – Pastors and Masters
Compton-Burnett, Ivy – More Women Than Men
Compton-Burnett, Ivy – Elders and Betters
Compton-Burnett, Ivy – A Heritage and Its History
Compton-Burnett, Ivy – Darkness and Day
Comyns, Barbara – Sisters By A River
Comyns, Barbara – The House of Dolls
Comyns, Barbara – The Juniper Tree
Comyns, Barbara – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead
Comyns, Barbara – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (second review)
Comyns, Barbara – The Vet’s Daughter
Comyns, Barbara – The Skin Chairs
Comyns, Barbara – Mr. Fox
Connolly, Cyril – Enemies of Promise
Conrad, Joseph – Heart of Darkness
Constanduros, Denis – My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father
Cooper, Lettice – Black Bethlehem
Coward, Noel – Blithe Spirit
Crispin, Edmund – The Moving Toyshop
Crompton, Richmal – Frost at Morning
Crompton, Richmal – Matty and the Dearingroydes
Crompton, Richmal – Portrait of a Family
Crompton, Richmal – Still William
Crompton, Richmal – Journeying Wave
Crompton, Richmal – Mist and other ghost stories
Cunningham, Michael – The Hours
Cunningham, Michael – A Home at the End of the World
Cunningham, Michael – Land’s End
Cunningham, Michael – By Nightfall

Dahl, Roald – Matilda
Dangarembga, Tsitsi – Nervous Conditions
Daniels, Lucy – Summer at Hope Meadows
Darling, William – Private Papers of a Bankrupt Bookseller
Delafield, E.M. – The Provincial Lady
Delafield, E.M. – Straw Without Bricks: I Visit The Soviets
Delafield, E.M. – As Others Hear Us
Delafield, E.M. – Gay Life
Delafield, E.M. – Zella Sees Herself
Delafield, E.M. – Three Marriages 
Delafield, E.M. – The Suburban Young Man
Delafield, E.M. – Messalina of the Suburbs
Delafield, E.M. – The Pelicans
Delius, F.C. – Portrait of the Woman as a Young Mother
Dench, Judi – And Furthermore
Dennis, Patrick – Auntie Mame
Dennys, Joyce – Henrietta’s War
Dennys, Joyce – Repeated Doses
De Saint-Exupery, Antoine – Night Flight
Devine, Harriet – Being George Devine’s Daughter
Devonshire, Deborah (Deborah Mitford) – Counting My Chickens
Devonshire, Deborah – Home To Roost
Devonshire, Deborah – Wait for Me!
Dick, Kay – Ivy and Stevie
Dick, R.A. – The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Dickens, Charles – Great Expectations
Dickens, Monica – One Pair of Hands
Dickens, Monica – One Pair of Feet
Dickens, Monica – The Winds of Heaven
Dickens, Monica & Beverley Nichols – Yours Sincerely
Dirda, Michael – Browsings
Dockrill, Laura – Mistakes in the Background
Dominguez, Carlos Maria – The Paper House
Dorward, Peter – Nightingale
Dostoevsky, Fyodor – The Eternal Husband
Dostoevsky, Fyodor – The Double
Douglas, O. – Pink Sugar
Douglas-Fairhurst, Richard – The Story of Alice
Drabble, Margaret – The Garrick Year
du Maurier, Daphne – The Flight of the Falcon
du Maurier, Daphne – My Cousin Rachel
du Maurier, Daphne – Letters from Menabilly
du Maurier, Daphne – Frenchman’s Creek
du Maurier, Daphne – Frenchman’s Creek (OVW’s review)
du Maurier, Daphne – The House on the Strand
du Maurier, Daphne – Rebecca
Dunn, Mark – Ella Minnow Pea
Durrell, Gerald – My Family and Other Animals
Durrell, Gerald – Birds, Beasts, and Relatives

Edwards, Martin – The Golden Age of Murder
Elinger, John & Kathy Shock – That Sweet City: Visions of Oxford

Eliot, T.S. – The Family Reunion
Essex, Mary – The Amorous Bicycle
Essex, Mary – Six Fools and a Fairy
Evens, Brecht – The Wrong Place
Evens, Brecht – The Making Of
Evens, Brecht – Panther

Haddon, Mark – The Red House
Hamilton, Patrick – The Slaves of Solitude
Hanff, Helene – 84, Charing Cross Road
Hanff, Helene – Q’s Legacy
Hanff, Helene – Letter from New York
Hansford Johnson, Pamela – An Error of Judgement
Hansford Johnson, Pamela – I. Compton-Burnett
Hapwood, Dianne – Tea and Tranquillisers
Hardy, Thomas – Jude the Obscure
Hardy, Thomas – The Return of the Native
Harman, Claire – Jane’s Fame
Harman, Claire – Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography
Hart, Elizabeth Anna – The Runaway
Hart, Miranda – Is It Just Me?
Hartley, Jenny – Reading Groups
Hartley, L. P. – The Go-Between
Hartley, L. P. – Simonetta Perkins
Hartley, L.P. – The Boat
Hastings, Milo M. – The City of Endless Night
Hay, Mavis Doriel – Death on the Cherwell
Hayes, Bill – Insomniac City
Hill, Susan – The Battle for Gullywith
Hill, Susan – Howards End is on the Landing
Hill, Susan – Jacob’s Room is Full of Books
Hill, Susan – The Beacon
Hill, Susan – In the Springtime of the Year
Hill, Susan – A Kind Man
Hill, Susan – Black Sheep
Hill, Susan – The Bird of Night
Hillis, Marjorie – Live Alone and Like It
Hills, Ruth Mary – Scar Tissue
Hillyer, Richard – Country Boy
Hiraide, Takashi – The Guest Cat
Hocking, Mary – An Irrelevant Woman
Holroyd, Michael – On Wheels
Holtby, Winifred – Virginia Woolf
Hosseini, Khaled – The Kite Runner
Howe, Bea – A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee
Hrabal, Bohumil – Closely Observed Trains
Huggett, Richard – The Truth About ‘Pygmalion’
Humble, Nicola – The Feminine Middlebrow Novel
Hunt, Rebecca – Mr. Chartwell
Huxley, Aldous – Crome Yellow
Huxley, Aldous – The Genius and the Goddess

Isherwood, Christopher – Mr. Norris Changes Trains
Ishiguro, Kazuo – Never Let Me Go
Ivey, Eowyn – The Snow Child

Jackson, Shirley – The Haunting of Hill House
Jackson, Shirley – The Bird’s Nest
Jackson, Shirley – The Sundial
Jackson, Shirley – Hangsaman
Jackson, Shirley – The Road Through The Wall
Jackson, Shirley – We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Jackson, Shirley – Life Among the Savages
Jackson, Shirley – Raising Demons
Jackson, Shirley – The Lottery and other stories
Jackson, Shirley – Let Me Tell You
James, Clive – Latest Readings
James, Henry – The Turn of the Screw
Jamie, Kathleen – Findings
Jansson, Tove – A Winter Book
Jansson, Tove – Fair Play
Jansson, Tove – The Summer Book
Jansson, Tove – The True Deceiver
Jansson, Tove – Travelling Light
Jansson, Tove – Art in Nature
Jansson, Tove – The Listener
Jansson, Tove – Letters From Klara
Jansson, Tove – Moominpappa at Sea
Jean, Raymond – Reader For Hire
Jenkins, Herbert – Patricia Brent, Spinster
Jenkins, Herbert – The Return of Alfred
Jenkins, Michael – A House in Flanders
Jerome, Jerome K. – The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow
Jerome, Jerome K. – Three Men in a Boat
Jerome, Jerome K. – Three Men on the Bummel
Jesse, F Tennyson – A Pin To See The Peepshow
Johnston, Jennifer – The Gingerbread Woman
Jordan, Elizabeth – As Cooks Go
Jordan, Robert – The Eye of the World

Kalanithi, Paul – When Breath Becomes Air
Kaling, Mindy – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Kaling, Mindy – Why Not Me?
Kafka, Franz – Metamorphosis
Kaufman, Andrew – The Tiny Wife
Kaufman, Andrew – All My Friends Are Superheroes
Kaye-Smith, Sheila – All The Books of My Life
Kaye-Smith, Sheila and G.B. Stern – Talking of Jane Austen
Kaye-Smith, Sheila and G.B. Stern – More Talk of Jane Austen
Keane, Molly – Young Entry
Keller, Helen – The World I Live In
Kendal, Felicity – White Cargo
Kennedy, A.L. – On Writing 
Kennedy, Margaret – Jane Austen 
Kennedy, Margaret – Together and Apart
Kennedy, Margaret – The Outlaws on Parnassus
Kennedy, Margaret – Lucy Carmichael
Kennedy, Richard – A Boy at the Hogarth Press
Kerr, Jean – Please Don’t Eat The Daisies
Kingsolver, Barbara – The Poisonwood Bible
Klosterman, Chuck – But What If We’re Wrong?
Knights, Sarah – Bloomsbury’s Outsider
Koppel, Lily – The Red Leather Diary
Kosztolányi, Dezső – Skylark
Kundera, Milan – Immortality
Kundera, Milan – Identity
Kundera, Milan – The Joke

Mackail, Denis – Chelbury Abbey
Mackail, Denis – Ian and Felicity
Mackenzie, Compton – Poor Relations
Maclaren-Ross, Julian – Of Love and Hunger
Magorian, Michelle – Goodnight Mister Tom
Manguel, Alberto – Stevenson Under The Palm Trees
Manguel, Alberto – The Library at Night 
Manguel, Alberto – A Reader on Reading 
Mankowitz, Wolf – A Kid For Two Farthings
Manning, Olivia – School For Love
Manning, Rosemary – The Chinese Garden
Mansfield, Katherine – Selected Stories
Mansfield, Katherine – In a German Pension 
Mansfield, Katherine – Something Childish and other stories
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia – Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Marquis, Don – The Best of Archy and Mehitabel
Marsh, Ngaio – Opening Night
Martinetti, Anne et al – Agatha: the real life of Agatha Christie
Maugham, W. Somerset – Up At The Villa 
Maxtone Graham, Ysenda – Mr. Tibbits’s Catholic School
Sinclair, May – Mr Waddington of Wyck
Sjon – The Blue Fox
Skinner, Cornelia Otis – Popcorn
Skinner, Cornelia Otis – Nuts in May
Smith, Dodie – I Capture the Castle
Smith, Dodie – The Town in Bloom
Smith, Dodie – Look Back With Love 
Smith, Dodie – Look Back With Mixed Feelings
Smith, Dodie – Dear Octopus  
Smith, Dorothy Evelyn – Miss Plum and Miss Penny
Smith, Emma – The Great Western Beach
Smith, Emma – Maidens’ Trip
Snow, C.P. – The Masters
Solomon, Laura – Alternative Medicine
Solomons, Natasha – Mr. Rosenblum’s List
Southey, Donald – I, Messiah
Spain, Nancy – Cinderella Goes to the Morgue
Spalding, Frances – Insights: The Bloomsbury Group
Spark, Muriel – The Driver’s Seat
Spark, Muriel – Loitering With Intent
Spark, Muriel – Memento Mori
Spark, Muriel – The Abbess of Crewe
Spark, Muriel – The Takeover 
Spark, Muriel – The Ballad of Peckham Rye
Spark, Muriel – The Only Problem 
Spark, Muriel – Reality and Dreams
Spark, Muriel – Territorial Rights
Spark, Muriel – Symposium
Spark, Muriel – Curriculum Vitae
Sprigge, Elizabeth – The Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett
Spurling, Hilary – La Grande Thérèse 
Stacey, Tom – The Man Who Knew Everything
Stein, Gertrude – Blood on the Dining-Room Floor
Steinbeck, John – The Pearl
Stephenson, Simon – Let Not The Waves of the Sea
Stern, G.B. – Ten Days of Christmas
Stern, G.B. – Dolphin Cottage
Stevens, Michael – V. Sackville-West
Stevenson, D.E. – Miss Buncle’s Book
Stevenson, D.E. – Mrs. Tim of the Regiment
Stockett, Kathryn – The Help
Stonier, G.W. – Shaving Through the Blitz
Stopes, Marie – Married Love
Strachan, Mari – The Earth Hums in B Flat
Strachey, Julia – Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
Strachey, Julia – Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (readalong)
Streatfeild, Noel – Saplings
Streatfeild, Noel – Tea By The Nursery Fire
Struther, Jan – Mrs. Miniver
Struther, Jan – Try Anything Twice
Summerscale, Kate – The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
Sutcliff, Rosemary – Blue Remembered Hills
Swift, Graham – Mothering Sunday
Szymborska, Wislawa – People on a Bridge

Taylor, Elizabeth – Angel
Taylor, Elizabeth – Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
Taylor, Elizabeth – A Game of Hide and Seek
Taylor, Elizabeth – At Mrs. Lippincote’s
Taylor, Elizabeth – A View of the Harbour
Taylor, Elizabeth – The Soul of Kindness
Taylor, Elizabeth – A Wreath of Roses
Taylor, Elizabeth – The Wedding Group
Thomas, Edward – Oxford
Thomas, Helen – As It Was and World Without End
Thomasson, Anna – A Curious Friendship
Thorton, Rosy – Hearts and Minds
Thwaite, Ann – A.A. Milne: His Life
Thwaite, Ann – Running in the Corridors
Todd, Barbara Euphan – Miss Ranskill Comes Home
Todd, Janet – Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle
Tomalin, Claire – Katherine Mansfield : A Secret Life
Tomalin, Claire – A Life of My Own
Toole, John Kennedy – A Confederacy of Dunces
Townsend, Sue – Adrian Mole series 
Townsend, Sue – The Queen and I
Trapido, Barbara – Brother of the More Famous Jack
Trefusis, Violet – Echo
Trevelyan, G.E. – Appius and Virginia
Trillin, Calvin – Tepper Isn’t Going Out
Trillin, Calvin – Deadline Poet 
Trillin, Calvin – About Alice 
Trillin, Calvin – Floater
Trillin, Calvin – Remembering Denny
Trollope, Anthony – The Warden
Truss, Lynne – Making the Cat Laugh
Tsiolkas, Christos – The Slap
Tutton, Diana – Guard Your Daughters

Vanbrugh, Irene – To Tell My Story
Vandenbroucke, Brecht – White Cube
Vercors – Sylva
Vickers, Salley – Miss Garnet’s Angel
Vincent, Lady Kitty – Gin & Ginger
Visman, Janni – Yellow
Visman, Janni – Sex Education
von Arnim, Elizabeth – The Enchanted April
von Arnim, Elizabeth – The Caravaners
von Arnim, Elizabeth – Christopher & Columbus
von Arnim, Elizabeth – Father
von Arnim, Elizabeth – Introduction to Sally
von Arnim, Elizabeth – Mr. Skeffington
von Arnim, Elizabeth – Elizabeth and Her German Garden
von Arnim, Elizabeth – In the Mountains
Voysey, Sheridan – Resurrection Year

Wallace, Danny – Yes Man
Walpole, Hugh – The Castle of Otranto
Ward, A.C. – A Literary Journey Through Wartime Britain
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – Lolly Willowes
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – Summer Will Show  
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – Time Importuned 
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – Opus 7
Warner, Sylvia Townsend and William Maxwell – The Element of Lavishness
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – Jane Austen
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – With The Hunted 
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – The Corner That Held Them
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – The True Heart
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – The Museum of Cheats
Warner, Sylvia Townsend – Swans on an Autumn River
Waterfield, Giles – The Long Afternoon
Waters, Sarah – The Little Stranger
Waters, Sarah – The Night Watch
Waters, Sarah – The Paying Guests
Waugh, Evelyn – Put Out More Flags
Waugh, Evelyn – The Loved One
Waugh, Evelyn – Scoop
Webb, Mary – Gone To Earth 
Webster, Jean – Daddy Long-legs
Welty, Eudora – The Optimist’s Daughter
Welty, Eudora – Delta Wedding
West, Elizabeth – Hovel in the Hills
West, Nathanael – Miss Lonelyhearts
Westcott, Glenway – The Pilgrim Hawk
Westin, Boel – Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words
Wharton, Edith – The Age of Innocence
Whipple, Dorothy – Someone at a Distance
Whipple, Dorothy – The Closed Door and other stories
Whipple, Dorothy – Every Good Deed
Whipple, Dorothy – The Priory
Whipple, Dorothy – Random Commentary
Whipple, Dorothy – High Wages
White, Ethel Lina – The Wheel Spins
White, T.H. – Mistress Masham’s Repose
Whitechurch, V.L. – Canon in Residence
Whitechurch, V.L. – First and Last
Wigfall, Clare – The Loudest Sound and Nothing
Wilde, Oscar – The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar – The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilder, Laura Ingalls – The First Four Years (guest review)
Wilson, Ethel – Hetty Dorval
Winman, Sarah – When God Was A Rabbit 
Wiseman, Robert – Quirkology
Wodehouse, P.G. – Indiscretions of Archie
Wodehouse, P.G. – Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen
Wodehouse, P.G. – Right Ho, Jeeves
Wolff, Tobias – In the Garden of the North American Martyrs
Wolff-Mönckeberg, Mathilde – On The Other Side
Wong, Claire – The Runaway
Woolf, Leonard & Trekkie Ritchie Parsons – Love Letters
Woolf, Virginia – Flush
Woolf, Virginia – To The Lighthouse
Woolf, Virginia – Orlando
Woolf, Virginia – The London Scene
Woolf, Virginia – A Room of One’s Own 
Woolf, Virginia – Jacob’s Room
Woolf, Virginia – Essays on the Self
Woolf, Virginia – Roger Fry: a Biography
Wren, Jenny – Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Girl
Wyndham, Francis – The Other Garden 

Yates, Richard – Revolutionary Road
Young, Angela – Speaking of Love
Young, E.H. – Miss Mole
Young, E.H. – William
Young, E.H. – The Misses Mallett
Young, E.H. – Chatterton Square

Zaid, Gabriel – So Many Books
Zoob, Caroline – Virginia Woolf’s Garden
Zusak, Markus – The Book Thief
Zweig, Stefan – Confusion
Zweig, Stefan – Burning Secret