My TBR by the decades – The 1940s

It will be interesting to see how many of these touch on the war. I’m guessing it won’t be The Ox-Bow Incident.

[For those who don’t know, I am participating in A Century of Books this year which requires me to read one book from each year from 1919 through 2018.]


Mr Skeffington – Elizabeth von Arnim
Final Edition – E.F. Benson
The Ox-Bow Incident – Walter van Tilburg Clark
Steffan Green – Richmal Crompton
A Stricken Field – Martha
The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene
Bethel Merriday – Sinclair Lewis
The Living Mountain – Nan Shepherd
Landfall – Nevil Shute
George Passant/Strangers and Brothers – C.P. Snow

Well, it won’t be the von Arnim. I’ve already given that one away. I think I’m done with her. I’ve read half of The Power and the Glory but it has been so long since I put it down that I would have to start from the beginning. It obviously wasn’t gripping me in the way his novels have. 


The Land of Spices – Kate O’Brien
Mrs Tim – D.E. Stevenson
Over to Candleford – Flora Thompson

It really is time I discovered Mrs Tim. I’ve read so many other Stevenson’s but this classic has so far escaped my attention.


Enduring Riches – Margaret Flint
Farmer Takes a Wife – John Gould
The Company She Keeps – Mary McCarthy
A Time to Be Born – Dawn Powell
One Small Candle – Cecil Roberts
Marling Hall – Angela Thirkell

I can’t believe I loved Victoria 4:30 by Cecil Roberts so much and I haven’t yet read this other Roberts. Then again I love Mary McCarthy and I might need her as a foil to all the British authors.


Two Serious Ladies – Jane Bowles
Also the Hills – Frances Parkinson Keyes
Celia’s House – D.E. Stevenson
Candleford Green – Flora Thompson

The Jane Bowles is apparently avant-garde. I am not sure how I will feel about that, but this might be a good time to try.


Liana – Martha Gellhorn
Green Dolphin Street – Elizabeth Goudge
Rest and Be Thankful – Helen MacInnes
The Friendly Young Ladies – Mary Renault
The Signpost – E. Arnot Robertson
Chedworth – R.C. Sherriff
Listening Valley – D.E. Stevenson
Growing Up – Angela Thirkell

At some point this year I will read one of the many Helen MacInnes’ that I have. She can kind of scratch my Ambler itch.


The Green Years – A.J. Cronin
Thursday Afternoons – Monica Dickens
Prospero’s Cell – Lawrence Durrell
Loving – Henry Green
The House in Clewe Street – Mary Lavin
The Journey Home – Zelda Popkin
Miss Bunting – Angela Thirkell
Apartment in Athens – Glenway Wescott

I’ve read a lot of Monica Dickens lately so that one might stay on the shelf for now. I’m kind of in the mood for Durrell right now. He isn’t quite as sunny as his brother Gerald, but writes about sunny Corfu and Egypt. I didn’t really enjoy Glenway Wescott’s The Pilgrim Hawk but the title of this one has me thinking of Rachel Cusk’s Outline. I know that is a weak link, but might be enough for me to give it a whirl.


Jill – Philip Larkin
To Bed with Grand Music – Marghanita Laski
Then and Now – W. Somerset Maugham
Doreen – Barbara Noble
That Lady – Kate O’Brien
Bright Day – J.B. Priestly
The Bridge of Years – May Sarton
Britannia Mews – Margery Sharp
Bell Timson – Marguerite Steen

Philip Larkin is the poet and friend of Barbara Pym who helped revive interest in her work which then in turn led to her publishing more novels. He also wrote a couple of novels, both of which I own and neither of which I have read. It’s definitely time to see what the man was about.


Albert Sears – Millen Brand
The Path to the Spiders’ Nest – Italo Calvino
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – M. Barnard Eldershaw
A Girl in Winter – Philip Larkin
One Fine Day – Mollie Panter-Downes
The Evenings – Gerard Reve
Letty Fox: Her Luck – Christina Stead
Stillmeadow Seasons – Gladys Taber
A View from the Harbour – Elizabeth Taylor
Friday at Noon – Benedict Thielen
Peace Breaks Out – Angela Thirkell
The Old Bank House – Angela Thirkell

If I had to choose at this moment I would pick One Fine Day


The Casino – Margaret Bonham
Narcissa – Richmal Crompton
Joy and Josephine – Monica Dickens
Catalina – W. Somerset Maugham
That Winter – Merle Miller
Long After Summer – Robert Nathan
The Locusts Have No King – Dawn  Powell
The Foolish Gentlewoman – Margery Sharp
Another Year – R.C. Sherriff
Tomorrow Will Be Better – Betty Smith
Love Among the Ruins – Angela Thirkell
Private Enterprise – Angela Thirkell

I may need a little Betty Smith to put it all into perspective. Then there is Merle Miller, an author I never would have heard about if not for Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust. I think I have read three of his and not been disappointed. They are medium hard to find at used bookstores so that always makes for  a happy moment to find one in the wild.


Strong Citadel – Katherine Newlin Burt
The Matchmaker – Stella Gibbons
The God Seeker – Sinclair Lewis
Prairie Avenue – Arthur Meeker
Tea with Mr Rochester – Frances Towers

I really disliked Cold Comfort Farm, but the Vintage edition of The Matchmaker was pretty enticing. I bought Prairie Avenue because it had an interesting old dust jacket. But I think the action takes place about 50 years prior so it may not be the best representation of 1949.

For the whole list:

TBR Chron

12 thoughts on “My TBR by the decades – The 1940s

  1. Laura C January 17, 2018 / 11:41 am

    A lot of fine books! Thirkell is a favorite of mine, the Larkrise/Candleford books are very good, and One Fine Day one of my favorite all-time reads. Happy reading!


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:04 pm

      It really should be One Fine Day for 1947 shouldn’t it? Everyone I know loves that book.


  2. Jennifer January 17, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    I still remember a number of the scenes in Green Dolphin Street, so for me that’s definitely a memorable book. But I also recall it taking me quite a while to read, so maybe on the long side.


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:05 pm

      That is good to know. I think that purchase was based on the fact that it was a vintage edition with a dust jacket more than for any reading reason.


  3. Karen K. January 18, 2018 / 2:55 am

    The Casino is very good, also Tea With Mr. Rochester. I don’t read short stories that often but the Persphone collections are always really good.


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:06 pm

      Oh, is one of those a short story collection? Then I need to move it off this list.


  4. Liz Dexter January 18, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Mrs Tim is great and I read The House on Clewes Street for that year. But I’m confused as I’ve read To Bed with Grand Music yet have an as-yet-unread Gibbons in for that year at the moment (I list books I have and links to the ones I’ve reviewed).



    1943 D.E. Stevenson – The Two Mrs Abbotts

    1944 Cornelia Otis Skinner – Our Hearts Were Young and Gay

    1945 Mary Lavin – The House in Clewe Street

    1946 Stella Gibbons – Westwood

    1947 Mollie Panter-Downes – One Fine Day

    1948 Ruth Park – The Harp in the South

    1949 Dorothy Whipple – Because of the Lockwoods


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:09 pm

      I keep getting confused with Mrs Tim. Wasn’t it more than one novel? And I don’t know if this is all of them or just one of them. I’m pretty sure the one I have starts the same way that the Bloomsbury edition of Mrs Tim and the Regiment starts.

      I’m tempted by your Cornelia Otis Skinner. Hasn’t Simon T written about her in the recent past?

      The Two Mrs Abbotts pales in comparison to Miss Buncle’s Book, but still a fun Stevenson.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz Dexter January 29, 2018 / 5:21 am

        Yes, I got the idea of the Skinner from Simon and borrowed Heaven-ali’s copy! Mrs Tim of the regiment is the first one, I think …


  5. Simon T January 19, 2018 / 4:51 am

    One Fine Day is just glorious. And Two Serious Ladies is wonderful, though I don’t think of it as particularly avant-garde – it reminded me a lot of Muriel Spark.


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:10 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that Two Serious Ladies isn’t very avant-garde. You know I don’t do well with that…but I do very well with Muriel Spark.


  6. Susan in TX February 21, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    I loved Mrs.Tim of the Regiment. One Fine Day, not so much. I know Simon T loves it, but I need a little bit more plot with my character development than it gave me.


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