For several years I've sung the praises of The British Library Crime Classics - reprints of old crime fiction that have been forgotten.
Now they have a new series that I'm very happy about........ The British Library Women's Writers series. This is the explanation............
" The Women Writers series is a curated collection of novels by female authors who enjoyed broad, popular appeal in their day. In a century during which the role of women in society changed radically,their fictional heroines highlight women's experience of life inside and outside the home through the decades in these rich, insightful and evocative stories".
Each book has details of what was happening in the world at the time the book was written, information about the author and an afterword about the book itself.
The first of the 7 books published so far is "O The Brave Music" by Dorothy Evelyn Smith originally published in 1943 and the first of 11 books she wrote over two decades.
In this story set just before the First World War Ruan Ashley looks back on her childhood. At the beginning of the book Ruan is 7 years old and lives with her Father - a strict Non-conformist minister, her beautiful but unhappy mother and her much prettier older sister Sylvia plus the baby Clem in the Manse in a town on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. There is so much tragedy in her young life and events take her from the manse to Cobbetts, her mothers ancestral home and then to a farm on the moors. All through the book there is recurring kindness of Rosie Day, a young women and chapel goer living with her factory owner father Joshua and then there is David - adopted by Joshua and aged 12 when the story starts. David who is special from their very first meeting .
Dorothy Evelyn Smith (1893 -1969) was herself the daughter of a Methodist minister who lived in Yorkshire, then in London and then after she married she lived in Essex where this book was written in 1943 "on the end of the kitchen table with bombs falling around the house"
I loved this story and coincidentally Dean Street Press have recently published in their Furrowed Middlebrow reprints, another of her books........ Miss Plum and Miss Penny which is on my wish list as the library don't have a copy. Waiting to be read from the library I have another British Library Women Writers reprints "Tea is so Intoxicating" by Mary Essex.