10% Report: 100 Years of Books

100 Years of Books

I ditched my 100 Years of Books project when I made a new design for my reading life towards the end of last year.

I didn’t miss it at first, but in time I did, especially when other people – SimonAnnabel – I’m looking at you! – started lovely new projects!

I’ve learned that I need a project, but I also need plenty of space to read other things.

And so I’m picking up the threads again.

 100 different books by 100 different authors – 1850 to 1949!

But I’ve taken away the deadline. It’ll be done when It’s done.

If it can be done.

I’m not going to read books that I don’t want to read just to fill in missing years so I might never finish. But I think I can, if I do a little re-shuffling of books and authors along the way, so that the authors with many books can fit around the authors with not so many.

I’m going to carry on with my 10% reports every 10 books, and because I’ve read a few books from missing years since I ditched the list I’m able to say – here’s my third 10% report!

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1865 – Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

I am so pleased to say that I have finally discovered why so many readers love Anthony Trollope. In fact, if it isn’t wrong to say so after reading just the one book, I am now one of them. I’d picked up one or two books over the years and they hadn’t quite worked. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them but I didn’t love them, they weren’t the right books; I had to find the right place to start, the right book at the right time at the right time, and this book was that book.

1867 – Cometh Up as a Flower by Rhoda Broughton

The story is simple, but it is made special by the way it is told. Nell’s voice was underpinned by excellent writing, and Rhoda Broughton’s understanding of character and her command of the story stopped this from becoming a sensation novel. It’s a very human story of love, passion, betrayal, loss …

1891 – Mona and True Love’s Reward by Mrs Georgie Sheldon

At first I thought that Mona might be a little too nice, a little too good to be interesting, but she grew into a very fine heroine. She continued to be good, but she was ready to stand up for herself, she learned to be practical and capable, and she coped well with some very tricky situations.

1903 – The Girl Behind the Keys by Tom Gallon

She was hired, she was given an advance on the salary that was far more than she had expected, and she learned that the work would be not very demanding at all. It seemed almost too good to be true. It was, and it didn’t take Miss Thorn very long at all to work out that the Secretarial Supply Syndicate was a front for a gang of criminals; con men who were ready to use any means necessary to extract money from their victims.

1910 – The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson

I had to love Laura. Her letter’s home were a riot. I loved that she delighted the invitations to tea that the other girls dreaded, because it gave her a chance to examine new bookshelves, and that made the fear of being called on to recite or perform fade into insignificance. I loved her joy when an older girl look her under her wing; and her outrage when she found that she had a young man.

1920 – The Adventurous Lady by J C Snaith

I was intrigued to see J C Snaith described as a ‘teller of enthralling tales.’ I had never heard of the author, and when I went to look for him I found that he was very obscure, but I found a book titled ‘The Adventurous Lady’ that promised so many things I love – a train, a governess, a country house, a play – and so I had to start reading.

1927 – Red Sky at Morning by Margaret Kennedy

William and Emily Crowne were the loveliest of children. They were attractive, they were imaginative, and they played so happily together, caught up in their own world and oblivious to the world around them. They didn’t see how jealous the Frobisher children, Trevor and Charlotte, were. They didn’t know that their father’s notoriety would follow them into their adult lives.

1928 – Grey Mask by Patricia Wenworth

Something else I particularly liked was the way Patricia Wentworth threaded serious questions – about Margaret’s life as a single woman and the choices that she made, about Margot’s vulnerability and the position she had been left in, and most of all about the consequences of not knowing our own history – through an classic golden age style mystery. The story is bold, but its author clearly understands where subtlety is required.

1935 – Four Gardens by Margery Sharp

Caroline  – the heroine of ‘Four Gardens’ – would be of the same generation as my grandmother. My mother’s mother that is; my father’s mother was a good deal younger. They were born when Queen Victoria was on the throne, near the end of her reign but not so near the end that they didn’t remember her. Their values were formed by that age, and by the Edwardian era that followed, and after that they lived through Great War and the repercussions that reverberated through the twenties, the thirties ….

1945 – Haxby’s Circus by Katharine Susannah Prichard

I read that Katharine Susannah Prichard travelled with a circus when she was researching this novel, and I think it shows. The pictures she paints of the people and their world are wonderful.

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The full list of what I’ve read is here and my first two 10% reports are here and here.

I’m well on my way to my next 10% already, but I have lots more years to fill and so recommendations – especially for the earliest years – would be very welcome.

 

Mona and True Love’s Reward by Mrs Georgie Sheldon

‘Mona’ and ‘True Love’s Reward’ are presented to the world as two separate books – the latter being the sequel to the former – but, because they tell one story, divided into two part of equal length at a place that really doesn’t feel like an ending before a new beginning, I am going to treat them as one.

Both books were published in 1891, and they were the work of a very, very popular author. They aren’t great works, but they are very engaging and very readable. They do what they do very well.

There’s mystery, there’s intrigue, there’s romance ….

MonaMona was raised by her uncle, but he fell in and died before he could sign a will and before he could finish telling Mona the story of he mother – who had died – her father – who had left – and the secret that he was holding until she grew up.

She was heartbroken, but when her uncle’s estranged wife had her turned out without a penny she drew herself up, with pride and with spirit, and set out to use her skill with her needle to support herself.

A position as a seamstress fell into her lap, but Mona realised that it might not be the blessing that it seemed to be. Because she believed that her employer was her father’s second wife. She knew that the lady would wish her ill – would quite probably do her harm – if she discovered who she was, but she also realised that her new job might offer her an opportunity – maybe the only opportunity – to uncover the secret that her uncle had been holding.

Mona was disappointed that her young man, the son of a wealthy jeweller, hasn’t been in touch with her since her uncle died. She didn’t know that he and his father had been stung by some clever and audacious thieves, and that he really had no way of getting in touch with anybody. And once things were sorted out she was living a different life in a different place under a different name, so it wouldn’t be at all easy for him to find her.

Would Mona uncover the truth about her family …. ?

What would the diamond thieves do next …. ?

Would her employer find out the truth about Mona …. ?

Would the young lovers be reunited …. ?

The story is very well plotted, with lots of twists and turns. At times it was predictable, and I caught echoes of other stories, but it was always engaging and there were more than enough tines when I was puzzled and intrigued.

True Love's Reward At first I thought that Mona might be a little too nice, a little too good to be interesting, but she grew into a very fine heroine. She continued to be good, but she was ready to stand up for herself, she learned to be practical and capable, and she coped well with some very tricky situations.

Her young man became a wonderful foil.

And the jewel thieves continued to prey on high society – thay provided great entertainment, and a lovely contrast to Mona’s story.

Everything worked out as it should in the end. This is that sort of story. It’s very black and white.

There were some small flaws in the logic, but as a whole the story worked.

It was wonderfully diverting at a time when I wanted something not too demanding to read.