I straight up forgot to post yesterday which fits right in with this week. Funnily enough, I was going to post about “good enough” parenting. You know the kind – the parenting you get by with on days when “excellent” is not in the cards. Mine involves kindness and TV. It’s been a “good enough” kind of week. Oh well. Maybe another day.

Today I thought I’d post about my favorite type of fiction and give some suggestions.

20th century literature

A few years ago I noticed a trend in the type of novels I actually could read all the way through. It wasn’t the subject matter or the country (for the most part) or the gender of the author or the style of the book. You know what the common denominator was? They were all published in the early 20th century, and by early I mean the first half, but especially the teens to thirties. Truthfully, most of the books were by Brits too, but there are some notable exceptions. It became a strong enough trend that I now know to look for books published back then that may not have survived to become part of the literature canon, but are certainly gems and just the sort of books I will love. They are books with a proper mix of bite and romance – less effusive than their romantic forebears and not so cynical as the mid-century novels.

So without further ado, here’s a round-up of some favorite Early 20th Century Novelists.

  1. L.M. Montgomery, the beloved author of Anne of Green Gables. Maud, as she was known in real life, is my favorite author of all time. My favorite book is actually not Annebut Emily of New Moon (and sequels) although the Anne books are definite favorites too. The reason I love Emily so much is that, well, she is me. I am her. When I read that book the first time it was like reading an autobiography of my spirit even though the facts of our lives were so different. I have read pretty much all of Maud’s fiction and they are all well worth your time.
  2. Elizabeth Von Arnim, a pseudonym for Mary Annette Beauchamp the Gräfin (Countess) von Arnim-Schlagenthin and other names and titles. The first book of hers that I read was The Enchanted April which I read because I adored the movie. I’ve also read The Pastor’s Wife and Love and thoroughly enjoyed both.  One I have not read for some inexplicable reason is Elizabeth’s German Garden which I’ve longed to read ever since reading that L.M. Montgomery enjoyed it.
  3. John Galsworthy, who was also a playwright, wrote The Forsyte Saga. I loved the miniseries so decided to check out the books. As is often true, they were even better than the movie. Of course I still re-watch the series over and over too. The Forsyte Saga is actually three novels and two short stories. There are several sequels and I looked for copies for years. I finally found some in Lahaina, Maui on my honeymoon and don’t you know I bought them then and there.
  4. E. M. Delafield is the clever pen name for a woman whose real maiden name was de la Pasture. Her novels are hilarious. Seriously, seriously funny.  The first is Diary of a Provincial Lady and continues with various iterations. I’ve read the first sequel as well, The Provincial Lady in LondonThe novels are written journal style and her stream of consciousness about being a wife and mother is priceless and transcends time and place.
  5. Barbara Pym’s novels are probably the latest to be included in this list, but I think they fit. I’ve read a lot of her novels and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. My favorites are probably Excellent Women and Some Tame GazelleShe manages to look deep into the mundane details of daily spinster life and finds richness and humor there.
  6. Ernest Hemingway is sort of a duh. But I really do like his novels. They bite more than most of these, but they’re bracing like a stiff sea breeze. I thought A Farewell to Arms was a heartbreakingly lovely work of art.
  7. Grace Livingston Hill is the last and it’s hilarious to bump her up against Ernest Hemingway. Her books are formulaic and cliche, but I really do love them despite all that. She gets preachy about all sorts of things and sometimes I read over stuff, but I love the descriptions of life in that time period. I read a certain section of A Daily Rate whenever I need to get some serious housecleaning motivation. Funny, but true.

So there you go, the eclectic list that somehow makes me happy.

Do you find yourself gravitating to diverse books? Is there a thread tying them together? Do you like Early 20th Century Novels too? 

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