10% Report: Reading the 20th Century

The end of my 20th Century Reading Project is definitely in sight now!

This is my eighth update, so I’ve read and written about eighty books, and I’ve read a few more that I have still to write about.

My previous reports are here and the full list is here.

I’ve reached the point when I can say I’m glad I’m doing this- I’ve discovered and rediscovered some great books and authors – but I’ll be relieved when it’s over. I’m ready for a change, and for not being tied to a project.

This ten in a bit of a mixed bunch – I particularly loved my books for 1942, 1971, 1972 and 1991,  I liked most of the others, but there were a couple of disappointments. Looking forward though, I’ve dealt with some tricky years, I’ve saved some lovely authors for the final stages, and so it’s onwards and upwards.

But, for tonight, here are those last ten books:

1907 – Through the Magic Door by Arthur Conan Doyle

“I care not how humble your bookshelf may be, nor how lowly the room which it adorns. Close the door of that room behind you, shut off with it all the cares of the outer world, plunge back into the soothing company of the great dead, and then you are through the magic portal into that fair land whither worry and vexation can follow you no more.”

1921 – The Windy Hill by Cornelia Meigs

The children continued to visit The Beeman, to hear his wonderful tales of local history, and to ask his advice. They found out what was going on, and then they found out why, but they had no idea what they could do. But then fate gave a helping hand, and everything fell into place.

1923 – The End of the House of Alard by Sheila Kaye-Smith

Above all this is a story of characters and relationships. Each and every character is beautifully drawn, complex and fully realised; the multitude of different relationships between them are caught perfectly too. They all lived and breathed, but it was in the dialogues that they were most alive. I remember Jenny, stridently making her case for doing just what she wanted to do; Gervase and George talking about faith; Mary quietly explaining why she couldn’t bear to go on with her husband ….

1942 – Treveryan by Angela Du Maurier

An elegant manor house, set on the wild Cornish coast; a house that captures the hearts and souls of those who live their. A story of love, secrets, and their consequences, with wonderful gothic overtones. It might be Manderlay but it isn’t, this is Treveryan. The creation not of Daphne Du Maurier, but of her elder sister, Angela. Two sisters, and two very different writers; but, of course writers with the same background, and with many of the same influences.

1968 – Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh

The prospect of traveling by boat through the countryside that Constable painted was irresistible. She didn’t know that her cabin had been reserved by a man who has been murdered,  believe by a master criminal the police call ‘The Jampot.’ But she found out, and that made her regard her fellow passengers with a degree of suspicion.

1971 – Penmarric by Susan Howatch

The story is told in six volumes, by five different narrators: Mark Castellack, his wife, one of his illegitimate sons, and two of his legitimate sons who would, in their turn, be master of Penmarric. Sixty years pass – from the later years of Queen Victoria’s reign to the end of World War II full of every kind of family drama you could imagine. In the wrong hands it would be a mess, but Susan Howatch made it work.

1972 – Limmerston Hall  by Hester W Chapman

Anne Milsom was leaving her home, and travelling to Pond House in Gloucester, to bring up her orphaned niece and nephew. She knew little of Neville Quarrendon, the guardian appointed by their father’s will, save that he was a distant relation, that he was a widower, and that he was an artist. Her friends were concerned that she would be living so far away, and in the household of a man they knew so little about, but nothing they could  deter Anne from going to her sister’s children.

1974 – The Face of Trespass by Ruth Rendell

The story – like many of Ruth Rendell’s stand-alone novels – focuses on the life of one lonely and isolated soul. Gray had written a highly successful first novel, but a bad case of writers block and a failed romance had brought him low. He was living alone, in a small cottage on the edge of Epping Forest, house-sitting for a friend who was away travelling. He had become a hermit, and his standards were slipping.

1980 – The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel

Somewhere around thirty-five thousand years ago, Ayla, a five-year old Cro- Magnum girl, found herself completely alone when her family, and all of her people, were killed. She wandered, lost and alone, until she was discovered by a group who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear. They were a different race –  Neanderthals – and only one of their number, Iza, a medicine woman saw the child, who looked so very, very different from her people, as a fellow creature to be helped and nurtured.

1991 – The Unforgiving by Charlotte Cory

It begins with three little girls who have lost their mother, sitting upstairs, looking down over the bannister. Because downstairs, their father, the famous and distinguished architect Mr Edward Glass is being manoevered into matrimony by the scheming widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Cathcart. Her strategy is successful, and the arrangement was successful, though it would not prove to a conventional marriage.

4 responses

  1. I could never stick to a challenge like this, but I do like the way that it introduces you to new authors from years gone by. Well done – Hope you manage to finish it!

  2. I keep reading posts by people who are Reading the 20th Century, but I am full of admiration for them – but I lack the discipline and the staying power to stick with a challenge like tat, although it would be interesting, and out of curiosity I may just take a look at the books I’ve read this year, and see where they would slot in to the century.

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