Book to the Future: 1920s
Pick up your South West Reading Passport 2016: Book to the Future from your local library, read through the decades and win prizes from now until March 2017. Find out more on our Book to the Future blog post.
There are more suggestions in your passport, as well as on the South West Reading Passport website, but we’ve gathered a selection of books to get you started, either set in, or published in, the 1920s. You can also download a reading list here: 1920s Reading List
Jeffrey Archer Only Time Will Tell. This book takes a cast of memorable characters from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take his place at Oxford, or join the fight against Hitler’s Germany.
E F Benson Mapp and Lucia Subtly brilliant comedy of social rivalry between the wars. Emmeline Lucas (known universally to her friends as Lucia) is an arch-snob of the highest order. In Miss Elizabeth Mapp of Mallards Lucia meets her match. Ostensibly the most civil and genteel of society ladies, there is no plan too devious, no plot too cunning, no depths to which they would not sink, in order to win the battle for social supremacy.
Bill Bryson One Summer: America 1927. Bill Bryson, one of our greatest and most beloved nonfiction writers, transports readers on a journey back to one amazing season in American life.
The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet.
Agatha Christie The Mysterious Affair at Styles The first Hercule Poirot mystery. 1920. Captain Arthur Hastings is invited to the rolling country estate of Styles to recuperate from injuries sustained at the Front. It is the last place he expects to encounter murder. Fortunately he knows a former detective, a Belgian refugee, who has grown bored of retirement …
Sebastian Faulks Jeeves and the Wedding Bells. Bertie Wooster is staying at the stately home of Sir Henry Hackwood in Dorset. He is more than familiar with the country-house set-up: he is a veteran of the cocktail hour and, thanks to Jeeves, his gentleman’s personal gentleman, is never less than immaculately dressed. On this occasion, however, it is Jeeves who is to be seen in the drawing room while Bertie finds himself below stairs – which he doesn’t care for at all. His predicament is, of course, all in the name of love…
E M Forster A Passage to India. Dr Aziz is a young Muslim physician in the British Indian town of Chandrapore. One evening he comes across an English woman, Mrs Moore, in the courtyard of a local mosque; she and her younger travelling companion Adela are disappointed by claustrophobic British colonial culture and wish to see something of the ‘real’ India. But when Aziz kindly offers to take them on a tour of the Marabar caves with his close friend Cyril Fielding, the trip results in a shocking accusation that throws Chandrapore into a fever of racial tension.
Robert Graves Goodbye to all that. In 1929 Robert Graves went to live abroad permanently, vowing ‘never to make England my home again’. This is his superb account of his life up until that ‘bitter leave-taking’: from his childhood and desperately unhappy school days at Charterhouse, to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War that was to haunt him throughout his life.
Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms. This is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Written in 1929 when Hemingway was just 30.
Paula McLain Circling the Sun. As a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother, the dream quickly turned sour, and she returned home; Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm, then incarcerating her in the classroom.
Adele Parks Spare Brides. 1920s Not all the men came back from WW1. This is the story of 4 friends. Ava relishes the freedom of being single. Sarah fears no one can replace her hero husband. Beatrice finds it hard to shine, next to her dazzling friends. Lydia is married, rich, and privileged: so isn’t she one of the lucky ones? Then a chance encounter changes everything.
Dorothy l Sayers Gaudy Night. The dons of Harriet Vane’s alma mater, the all-female Shrewsbury College Oxford, have invited her back to attend the much anticipated annual ‘Gaudy’ celebrations. However, the mood turns sour when someone begins a series of malicious pranks including poison-pen messages, obscene graffiti, the destruction of a set of proofs and crafting vile effigies. Desperate to avoid a possible murder in college, Harriet eventually asks her old friend Wimsey to investigate.
M L Stedman The Light Between Oceans. A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision. One that haunts them for the rest of their lives.
Evelyn Waugh Decline and Fall. Sent down from Oxford in outrageous circumstances, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly surprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at Llanabba Castle. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, rascals and fools, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk).