AV/AA in Brief


I truly enjoyed taking a break from galleys in August to focus on reading Persephones and Viragos. I didn’t read as many as I planned to, but I think five is a respectable number (I’m including Anderby Wold, which I previously posted about). Instead of trying catch up with individual posts about the remaining four novels I’m briefly capturing each one here:

The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes – This is a remarkable suspense novel published in 1963 that deals with the still sadly relevant issue of how the police treat black suspects and how the fear of false arrest and mistreatment psychologically impacts those suspects. Reading it was so tense and disconcerting – it’s perfectly paced to create a maximum feeling of complete anxiety. The novel is set in Phoenix (where I live) and it was fascinating to read about the city in the early sixties. There aren’t many novels set in Arizona so I found it particularly absorbing. This book was recently featured on the Persephone Forum.

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita LaskiLittle Boy Lost is another really great psychologically tense novel about an English man who reluctantly tries to locate his missing child in France after the end of WWII. It’s an effort not to skip forward to see how this turns out and when the end does come it is utterly haunting.

Saplings by Noel Streatfeild Saplings is set during WWII and tells the story of how the war affects four young children, all siblings, as the vicissitudes of fortune through the years change their circumstances and very personalities. It’s quite affecting and terribly sad and I found myself worrying and wondering about them long after I’d finished the novel.

Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns – After reading the gut wrenching Persephones it was refreshing to read this funny, messy and kooky novel set among a group of artists in London during the thirties. Not that bad things don’t happen here – they do, and some really pretty things awful too, but Comyns has a way of making dire poverty, marital troubles, a horrific childbirth experience, depression, death and displacement seem like a grand adventure.

What a wonderful month of reading I had!

19 thoughts on “AV/AA in Brief

  1. What a lovely range of titles. I have a particular attachment to Little Boy Lost, because when she saw my copy she said she remembered her other reading it, and because it was the last book she and I both read and loved. And I really must read Saplings, the one of your quartet that I have yet to read.


    1. Little Boy Lost is such a wonderful book and to have a special attachment must make it all the more memorable. Saplings is a brilliant book and my heart just broke for the child characters.


    1. It is really deserving of five stars! A stunner. The next time I have a bit of money to put toward a Persephone order I’m definitely going to order The Village.


  2. You really have had an excellent month of reading! I remember that feeling of wanting to peek at the end of Little Boy Lost but didn’t. Elizabeth Bowen wrote that the last line in that book is the greatest in twentieth-century literature, and I can certainly see why.
    I love the cover on your copy of Our Spoons….mine is quite juvenile but let’s face it…without any cover, it’s an amazing read.


    1. I can see why Elizabeth Bowen thought that, too. It’s so emotional and made my heart lurch. It certainly is the most memorable ending to a book I’ve read in a while.
      I do love this cover of Our Spoons – the colors are amazing!


  3. I am pleased to hear you had a wonderful month of reading. I am interested in reading Little Boy Lost as a few years ago I read The Victorian Chaise-longue. It was creepy and gothic, and I would like to read more!


  4. It does sound like you had a good month! I have Little Boy Lost on my shelves – hopefully it’s not as unsettling as The Victorian Chaise-Longue. But now I’m more interested in The Expendable Man. I’ve never heard of the author or the book, sadly.


    1. Little Boy Lost is unsettling, but I think in a different way from The Victorian Chaise-Longue.
      I think you would like The Expendable Man – it’s a great combination of a vintage thriller/mystery and social commentary. I even have my dad interested in reading it!


  5. Yay for Little Boy Lost! I did skip ahead and read the ending, and I admit that I was a teeny bit disappointed that the author felt the need to spell it out for the reader in the end. I’d have loved to stay with the ambiguity of not knowing the truth about the kid.


  6. That’s a lovely idea, just those publishers for a month! And five books when they’re all good reads is a very good number. The Comyns is great; it’s the first I read and has me wanting to read more.


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