Middlebrow Syllabus Reading Challenge

I been thinking for some time that I’d like to do a reading challenge in 2023. The problem was trying to settle on what to do…until I found the ultimate challenge on the Furrowed Middlebrow blog.

British fiction written in the first half of the 20th century is what I gravitate towards. And in addition to the mysteries, I love reading simple, humorous, sometimes poignant stories of everyday people. And that’s why I making Scott’s “Middlebrow Syllabus” my challenge.

Starting on November 1, 2022, I will begin making my way through a list of 100 books (as compiled by Scott Thompson) by British female writers from the early to mid-20th century. I plan to be done by November 30, 2023. If I’m not, that’s ok, it will just extend the pleasure.

There won’t be any particular order to reading them, I’m just going to make my way through the list as I find copies. Since I hope to review the books as I go, it also means an expansion of the blog. There will of course always be GAD books to review (especially since I just scored six E. C. R. Lorac’s that I’ve not seen republished!).

I’ve copied Scott’s list below and will update each with a link to the respective review as I go. And of course, I want to say “Thank You” to Scott for doing all of the work for my ultimate enjoyment!

1) MARGHANITA LASKI, The Village (1952)

2) SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER, Lolly Willowes (1926)

3) BARBARA PYM, Excellent Women (1952)

4) E. M. DELAFIELD, Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930)

5) F. M. MAYOR, The Rector’s Daughter (1924)

6) ELIZABETH TAYLOR, A Game of Hide and Seek (1951)

7) D. E. STEVENSON, Miss Buncle’s Book (1934)

8) ELIZABETH BOWEN, The Heat of the Day (1948)

9) E. H. YOUNG, Miss Mole (1930)

10) DODIE SMITH, I Capture the Castle (1948)

11) DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night (1935)

12) MARGARET KENNEDY, The Feast (1950)

13) PAMELA FRANKAU, A Wreath for the Enemy (1954)

14) RUMER GODDEN, China Court (1960)

15) MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES, One Fine Day (1947)

16) JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes (1946)

17) LETTICE COOPER, The New House (1936)

18) NANCY MITFORD, The Pursuit of Love (1945)

19) ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, The Enchanted April (1922)

20) WINIFRED WATSON, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938)

21) ANNA BUCHAN (as O. Douglas), The Proper Place (1926)

22) AGATHA CHRISTIE, The Hollow (1946)

23) EVADNE PRICE (as Helen Zenna Smith), Not So Quiet… (1930, aka Stepdaughters of War)

24) JAN STRUTHER, Mrs Miniver (1939)

25) ELIZABETH ELIOT, Alice (1950)

26) ENID BAGNOLD, The Squire (1938)

27) ANGELA THIRKELL, Cheerfulness Breaks In (1940)

28) MARY CHOLMONDELEY, Red Pottage (1899)

29) STELLA GIBBONS, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)

30) WINIFRED HOLTBY, South Riding (1936)

31) DOROTHY WHIPPLE, Someone at a Distance (1953)

32) ROSE MACAULAY, The Towers of Trebizond (1956)

33) IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, A House and Its Head (1935)

34) NOEL STREATFEILD, The Winter Is Past (1940)

35) ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May (1933)

36) BARBARA COMYNS, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (1955)

37) CICELY HAMILTON, William—An Englishman (1919)

38) VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, All Passion Spent (1931)

39) RUBY FERGUSON, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary (1937)

40) MARGERY SHARP, The Nutmeg Tree (1937)

41) DIANA TUTTON, Guard Your Daughters (1953)

42) A. M. CHAMPNEYS, Miss Tiverton Goes Out (1925)

43) NGAIO MARSH, Surfeit of Lampreys (1940, aka Death of a Peer)

44) ROSAMOND LEHMANN, Invitation to the Waltz (1932)

45) EDITH NESBIT, The Lark (1922)

46) KATE O’BRIEN, The Land of Spices (1941)

47) SYBILLE BEDFORD, A Favourite of the Gods (1963)

48) NORAH LOFTS, The Town House (1959)

49) WINIFRED PECK, Bewildering Cares (1940)

50) MARGERY ALLINGHAM, The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)

51) MARY RENAULT, The Friendly Young Ladies (1943)

52) DAPHNE DU MAURIER, Rebecca (1938)

53) EDITH OLIVIER, The Love-Child (1927)

54) MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

55) BRYHER, Beowulf (1956)

56) JANE & MARY FINDLATER, Crossriggs (1908)

57) REBECCA WEST, The Return of the Soldier (1918)

58) DORA SAINT (as Miss Read), Thrush Green (1959)

59) JOSEPHINE ELDER, The Encircled Heart (1951)

60) SHEILA KAYE-SMITH, Joanna Godden (1921)

61) F. TENNYSON JESSE, The Lacquer Lady (1929)

62) OLIVIA MANNING, The Great Fortune (1960)

63) SUSAN TWEEDSMUIR, Cousin Harriet (1957)

64) JEAN RHYS, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

65) RICHMAL CROMPTON, Family Roundabout (1948)

66) DAISY ASHFORD, The Young Visiters (1919)

67) ANN BRIDGE, Peking Picnic (1932)

68) ADA LEVERSON, Love’s Shadow (1908)

69) GEORGETTE HEYER, The Grand Sophy (1950)

70) RACHEL FERGUSON, Evenfield (1942)

71) STELLA BENSON, Living Alone (1919)

72) ROSE ALLATINI (as A. T. Fitzroy), Despised and Rejected (1918)

73) AMBER REEVES, A Lady and Her Husband (1914)

74) JANE DUNCAN, My Friend Muriel (1959)

75) MARY BELL, Summer’s Day (1951)

76) NAOMI MITCHISON, The Bull Calves (1947)

77) GLADYS MITCHELL, When Last I Died (1941)

78) SUSAN ERTZ, Madame Claire (1923)

79) JOANNA CANNAN, Princes in the Land (1938)

80) G. B. STERN, The Matriarch (1924, aka Tents of Israel)

81) DOROTHY EVELYN SMITH, Miss Plum and Miss Penny (1959)

82) BETTY MILLER, On the Side of the Angels (1945)

83) MONICA DICKENS, Mariana (1940)

84) LEONORA CARRINGTON, The Hearing Trumpet (1974)

85) STORM JAMESON, Company Parade (1934)

86) ELIZABETH CADELL, The Lark Shall Sing (1955)

87) E. ARNOT ROBERTSON, Ordinary Families (1933)

88) HELEN ASHTON, Bricks and Mortar (1932)

89) ELIZABETH GOUDGE, The Bird in the Tree (1940)

90) RADCLYFFE HALL, The Well of Loneliness (1928)

91) ELIZABETH JENKINS, The Tortoise and the Hare (1954)

92) NORAH HOULT, There Were No Windows (1944)

93) MARY STEWART, Nine Coaches Waiting (1958)

94) MOLLY KEANE (as M. J. Farrell), Full House (1935)

95) MARY WEBB, Precious Bane (1924)

96) CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women (1917)

97) VIOLET TREFUSIS, Hunt the Slipper (1937)

98) RUTH ADAM, I’m Not Complaining (1938)

99) CELIA BUCKMASTER, Village Story (1951)

100) ELINOR MORDAUNT, The Family (1915)


13 thoughts on “Middlebrow Syllabus Reading Challenge

    1. Thanks! I’m so looking forward to starting. It’s probably going to take much longer than the year I’ve given myself…just finding some of the books will be difficult.


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