10% Report: Reading the 20th Century – The End – or maybe not …..

I can’t quite believe it but my Century of Books is done.

100 books! 100 authors! 100 posts!

I’m am so glad I’ve done it. There are times when I thought the search for books for particular years was going to drive me mad, but it hasn’t – quite – and I have made so many wonderful discoveries along the way.

You can see my complete list here.

I’m a little light-headed now, as I get used to the gap where the project used to be. It was a push to finish by the end of the year, but I have, and now I can read whatever I want!!

And now, for the sake of completeness, if there were one hundred books there should be ten 10% reports. So here is the tenth one

1913 – The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

“Now I find myself wanting to do what Alice did at the end of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I want to throw you in the air and say, “You’re just a fictional character!” But I can’t. Because you are so utterly real; not a heroine, not a villainess, but a vivid, three-dimensional human being, with strengths and weaknesses.”

 1932 – Conversation Piece by Molly Keane

“He is enchanted by the house, and by the cousins, and he describes them simply and beautifully. I really did feel that he was telling his story, speaking or writing, and he brought a house, a family, and a way of living to life on the page.”

 1933 – High Rising by Angela Thirkell

“It’s a simple story, but it plays out beautifully, because it is adorned with so many lovely dialogues, so many interesting incidents; and because everything works beautifully with the characters and their situations.”

 1940 – Rochester’s Wife by D E Stevenson

“There are some lovely scenes along the way. It became clear that Mardie cared for Kit as much as he cared for her. Jem – who had a wonderful talent for imitating the people around him – was always a joy. And there was a wonderful trip to Scotland. The story was readable, and was always going to keep reading to find out what happened.”

1943 – The Landslide by Stephen Gilbert

“Wolfe sets out, with his grandfather, to look at the changes that the landslide has wrought. What they find is extraordinary, not rocks and rubble, but lush new growth, trees and plants; it is as if the landslide has uncovered another world ….”

1945 – When All is Done by Alison Uttley

“Charity loves her home, she has become part of its fabric, and she finds great joy in being its custodian and the matriarch of her family for the rest of her days; and as she grows up Virginia discovers the same joy. In her home, in the world around her, in the changing seasons, in the way that lives are lived, have been lived, for generations. Life pulls Virginia away from the farm, but it always brings her back. She will, like Charity, be its custodian, and her life and the life of the house will be knotted together.”

1948 – Maidens’ Trip by Emma Smith

“It is a wonderful adventure for three young women  – Nanette, Emma and Charity – all from conventional, middle-class backgrounds, who have completed basic training and have been dropped into the very different world of the boating fraternity.”

 1965 – Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

“It begins with their arrival in Cornwall, and it was clear from the start that Susan Cooper knew and understood Cornwall. She caught it perfectly, and that reassured me that I was in the safest of hands.”

 1973 – The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge

“The story is set in Liverpool in 1944,  a time when the city was worn down by the war and all that it meant, and when the end wasn’t quite in sight. And it tells of  two middle-aged women and their seventeen year-old niece. They brought her up, because their brother couldn’t manage after his wife died.  They are ordinary, unremarkable, working class women, but, seemingly effortlessly, Beryl Bainbridge makes their story fascinating, and suggests that something is going to happen.”

 1977 – The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden

“The book is utterly beautiful. Its pages are facsimiles of Edith’s original, and it holds so much and is so lovely that it would be easy to spend so many hours in its company. But I read one month every month, following Edith’s year is real time, wishing that I could have walked alongside her, or maybe that I could have been one of her students. “

There might be another century; it might be the same or it might be different; it might start now or it might start later.

I’m still mulling over ideas, and I’ll write about them – and about what I’ve learned from this century – in a day or two.

18 responses

  1. Congratulations! What an awesome achievment! So many of your books have made me read works and authors I had never ventured for before nor would have until you wrote about them! Thank You! I am actually considering following your lead and do a century of books myself….as always….thank you for inspiring!

  2. Congratulations, again! I can’t wait to read your thoughts on what you learned from doing your Century. For me, 2013 felt so aimless without the structure of ACOB and I can’t wait to start my second Century on January 1st. It is such a fun reading project!

  3. You are going to go on and read the rest of the Susan Copper quintet aren’t you? In fact if I were you I would drop whatever you’re doing and go and pick it up right this minute.

  4. Pingback: Ring in the New….. | Mockingbirds, Looking Glasses and Prejudices.....

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