Archives for 1930s novels

Book review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Why have I never heard of this book before? First published in 1938, Miss Pettigrew’s day starts when her employment agency sends her to the wrong address. What follows is twenty-four hours of epiphanies in which she learns about life, courtesy of a nightclub singer. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson was a revelation and has quickly claimed its place as one of my favourite novels. Miss Pettigrew is a governess, not a very good one, and finds herself forced to take jobs as a housemaid or looking after children she would rather not know. Then one day an error leads her to the apartment of Delysia LaFosse, a nightclub singer with a complicated love life. She tries to tell Miss LaFosse she has come about the job, but Miss LaFosse does not listen. As the story progresses, no children appear, but by now Miss Pettigrew is proving adept at solving Delysia’s small difficulties. On the surface, this is a frothy story of gowns, flirting, lipstick, negligées and men, suitable and unsuitable. Beneath the surface, it is a novel about throwing away the bounds of class and venturing into the unknown. It is about taking a deep
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Curtain Call

The 1930s come alive in this novel by journalist Anthony Quinn, I stepped into his world and felt as if I was there. An effortless read, I was plunged into the worlds of Stephen Wyley, artist; Nina Land, actress; the gloriously-named Madeline Farewell, hostess; Jimmy Erskine, theatre critic; and Tom Tunner, Erskine’s assistant. The setting is a time of looming war, royal crisis, blackshirts and strict homosexuality laws. It is not an easy novel to categorize: there are murders, but it is not a detective novel; we see the world of art and theatre and prostitution, but it is not a novel about art etc. Packed with period detail, with not one detail too many, this is written with a light hand and a clever plot. It starts with a romantic assignation and chance encounter in a hotel with a murderer, known in the newspapers as the Tiepin Killer. This meeting of only seconds, brings together the key characters and kickstarts the murder plotline. Curtain Call is the predecessor, not prequel, to Quinn’s latest novel Freya. I loved Freya, read my review of here. If you like ‘Curtain Call’, try these other 1930s novels:- ‘The Light Years’ by Elizabeth Jane
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Categories: Book Love.