Time for another round of Bookshelf Traveling in Insane Times which was created by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness and is currently hosted by Katrina at Pining for the West. The idea is to share one of your neglected bookshelves or perhaps a new pile of books.
This shelf starts out with a WWI theme, beginning with a few Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear (I like this series but stopped reading after they all started to seem the same). Then my Vera Brittain (1893-1970) books! Ever since I saw the PBS miniseries based on Testament of Youth I have been fascinated by her and her books. I remember when it was on TV there was an interview with her daughter Shirley Williams, a prominent member of Parliament and later cabinet member. My mother was paying more attention to British politics than I and had hoped Williams would become the first woman Prime Minister instead of Margaret Thatcher. Some of you may have seen the 2014 movie of Testament of Youth. I liked it but wondered whether people unfamiliar with her story really understood.
Next to Vera’s books, there is a collection of the letters written by her and the four men she cared about: her brother, her fiancé, and their two friends (try to read this without Kleenex); and a biography. Next is They Fought in the Fields about the Women’s Land Army, which should obviously be with WWII books; Dangerous by Degrees, about Brittain, her friend Winifred Holtby, Dorothy Sayers and others at Somerville College; Willingly to School, a history of women’s education. Then there is a book that needs to be higher on my TBR list, Into the Breach, American Women Overseas in World War I by Dorothy and Carl J. Schneider. Some 25,000 American women crossed the Atlantic to serve overseas from 1914-18. I have long been fascinated by women’s war service, both in real life and in fiction.
Alma Mater by Helen Horowitz is about the early American women’s colleges and my copy was autographed by the author when I heard her speak at the Radcliffe Institute in 2012. There are a few random books on this shelf: A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell, a historical novel set in WWII Italy; A Short History of English Literature (this is a folio edition that belonged to my grandmother); Broome Stages by Clemence Dane, which my mother loves so I must try it again sometime; Sixpence House, set in Hay-on-Wye, where I pilgrimaged the day before Diana, Princess of Wales died, and a biography of Evelyn Waugh.
At the other end of the shelf are several books by Kate Fenton but not, ironically, the book I liked so much that I hunted down all her others, Lions and Liquorice (if you borrowed it, confess!). It is my favorite of the many retellings of Pride and Prejudice. I rescued the book from a pile of discards in the hallway during my time as a romance editor at Penguin and I read it at one sitting that night, thought it was very clever, wanted to acquire it but my dreadful boss was very negative, saying it was too English (as if). Of course, the wannabe Jane Austens turned into a very popular and profitable subgenre. It was eventually retitled Vanity and Vexation and published by St. Martin’s. Oooh, I see Fenton has a brand new book called The Time of Her Life, so I will need to make room on this shelf. . .
This little sticker is from an event in 2016 honoring women who worked at the Charlestown Navy Yard during World War II.