I’m glad to  have been able to fit in another review of an interesting mid-century novel, kindly sent to me by Dean Street Press from their Furrowed Middlebrow imprint for review. Scott reviewed it on the Furrowed Middlebrow blog back in 2016 and it’s part of the summer offering from Dean Street Press – you can read about them all here.

I actually received Barbara Noble’s “The House Opposite” along with Verily Anderson’s “Spam Tomorrow” (reviewed by me earlier in the month) and asked to swap it as I was worried that one might be too horribly detailed about the Blitz – if anyone has read it, can you let me know (dead or injured pets or massive horror detail are not for me usually or even more so right now). Anyway, this is a novel of peacetime, just post-war, and very interesting indeed.

Josephine Kamm – “Peace, Perfect Peace”

(17 June 2019)

A book with a slightly odd structure: it starts off being about Clare, middle-aged at 35 and suffering an unhappy affair with a married man while she tries to write a second novel, but when she goes to visit hr friend and ex-landlady Joanna by the sea, the author seems to get more interested in Joanna’s battle with her daughter-in-law, Frances, over the soul of Frances’ son, Giles. Although we return with Clare to depressing London and her gas ring and dusty room, and also witness her betrayal of Joanna (it’s on a small canvas but has some gasp-out-loud moments), it’s this relationship that’s explored in huge detail, as resentment builds in Frances, all the while trying to make a home out of a slightly bomb-damaged and pretty manky flat. Poor old Clare is given a rather hastily sketched-in plot resolution, although she’s used for the author’s main theme.

Frances’ daughter June is a caution, and brings levity and hilarity to the proceedings, and post-war winding-down office life is well-portrayed, too, and the gathering of itself of a seaside town, but the main value and I think the author’s real main interest lies in its minute detailing of the privations, annoyances and humiliations of post-war life, from visiting an empty road house for not much fun to forgetting there’s no blackout any more or going into a lottery for a Christmas turkey. Published in 1947, it’s a fresh record which serves as an invaluable documentation of that time in British history, as well as being a perfectly readable and enjoyable novel.

Well done, Furrowed Middlebrow and Dean Street Press: another triumph!