The lovely Simon at Stuckinabook and Karen at Kaggsysbookishramblings have been hosting the 1938 Club this week, and I’m sneaking in just under the wire to report my read for it. The idea was to read a book published in the year in question – I was hoping to do it, especially because it was a new book for my Century of Reading, (edited to add: oh, no it wasn’t: I had already done 1938, but never mind!) but I found that I had NOTHING in my TBR or, in fact, my book collection (I am supposed to have Noel Streatfeild’s “The Circus is Coming” but I can’t find it). So, I’d resigned myself to not joining in, and then I spotted Simon’s review of “The Journeying Wave” by Richmal Crompton and realised I could pick up a Kindle copy, handily republished by Bello Books, and read one after all. Hooray!
Richman Crompton – “The Journeying Wave”
(14 April 2016 – ebook)
A charming novel of an extended family in the midlands, full of mothers and daughters, who all disappoint each other in some way, from social climber Doreen and her stolid offsprint Bridget to cold, snooty Elaine and her haphazard mum Aggie, as well as pairs of sisters and sets of siblings. The cool and cultured Viola, who has married beneath her, lives a dull life in the Midlands town in an ugly house with solid second husband Humphrey, who runs a shop but has no taste. He’s found out for the one interesting thing he’s ever done – making a mistake over a very common young woman – and their marriage appears to be over, just like that.
As the news travels through the family, it brings with it a shock wave, the Journeying Wave of the title, which has an effect on almost everyone, from timid and put-upon twin Hester, who has a mild escape, to lumpen Bridget and her brittle cousin Elaine throwing caution and their better judgement to the wind, to careful Monica and mercurial Hilary, Viola’s son from her first marriage, realising their true feelings. Amusingly, Humphrey opines near the end of the book that all of this happening, while being nothing to do with him, has successfully hidden his own little scandal, whereas actually no one will be the same again, however temporary their adventures.
The family relationships are so well drawn; there is some criticism but it’s warmer than the Elizabeth Taylor it could be compared with, if less funny than, for example, Margery Sharp would make it. It sits very well in that milieu, though – the middlebrow domestic novel of the mid-20th century, with things left covert rather than overt and all the strands nicely and satisfyingly tied up at the end.
This book would suit … Anyone who likes the Sharp, Taylor, Hocking, Whipple family novel.
I’m sooooo far behind with my reviews, so expect a few over the next few days. Lots of lovely reading, though – hooray!