Mabel Pritchard’s collection of light fiction

In a box in my mother's attic there is a collection of books that belonged to my great grandmother. Both my mother and my sister had read most of them at various times, but I never had. Until recently.

I was looking for some information about nurses during the Great War, when my sister mentioned that one of these books concerned nurses and had been published in 1917. I borrowed it, and subsequently decided to read some of the others. It was a romance, and I’m not a fan of any romantic fiction not written by Georgette Heyer. There are around twenty of these novels, many of them falling to pieces they have been read so often, and held together by sellotape in varying degrees of decay. They appear to have been published between 1908 and probably the late twenties (not all of them are dated). They are mostly cheap editions and the publishers have listed other new novels out that season at the back. These lists make almost as fascinating reading as the contents of the novels themselves, especially where tantalising hints about the plots are given.

Most of these books have been out of print for years and can be very hard to find.

My interest in them is for the glimpses they give of a very different society, and as a writer concerned with presenting an accurate impression of life at the time I write about, the assumptions made can be very telling.


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