#100WomenNovelists of the 20th Century

On May 11th 2017 I posted my first blog with the above title. The idea was that over the following year, on the run up to my 50th birthday, I would read a hundred books and review them here. The only prerequisites were that they had to be novels written by women during the 20th Century. As well as revisiting some of my favourite novels, the plan was also to read and write about novelists who have perhaps been overlooked or neglected.

Two and a half years later (aged 51 and a 1/2), I have only reached number 37. Not because I haven’t enjoyed this project – it’s been a privilege to read some of these largely forgotten writers. But because a couple of months after starting this journey, I was offered work. Actual paid work. And being a full-time writer, I accepted.

Launch night with Huxbear Vineyard

The commission was from Allen and Unwin to write a novel about gin, under the pseudonym Lizzie Lovell. The Juniper Gin Joint was followed a year later by a commission to write another novel, this time about wine. (You might see a theme emerging here.) During that year I had a relaunch of my debut novel The Generation Game by Legend Press. And a couple of months after the publication of The West Country Winery, my fourth Sophie Duffy novel was released – Betsy and Lilibet, a story of two women born on the same day (you can probably guess who one of them is).

In other words, I got a bit busy and the reading lapsed. But now I am determined to crack on with it and so during the next few days, number 38 should magically appear.

In the meantime, here’s a recap (in chronological order of posts):

1. The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon (1983)

2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

3. The Diary of a Provincial Lady by EM Delafield (1930)

4. The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge (1974)

5. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (1985)

6. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

7. Anita and Me by Meera Syal (1996)

8. The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen (1948)

9. Octavia by Jilly Cooper (1977)

10. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)

11. The Dress Circle by Laurie Graham (1998)

12. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961)

13. Sula by Toni Morrison (1974)

14. The Garrick Year by Margaret Drabble (1964)

15. The Wild Girl by Michele Roberts (1984)

16. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart (1945)

17. Mr Wroe’s Virgins by Jane Rogers (1991)

18. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (1945)

19. The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate (1980)

20. Real People by Alison Lurie (1969)

21. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1952)

22. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (1972)

23. Larry’s Party by Carol Shields (1997)

24. The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie (1962)

25. Back Trouble by Clare Chambers (1994)

26. The Secret Diary of Adrain Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend (1982)

27. Summer by Edith Wharton (1917)

28. Heartburn by Nora Ephron (1983)

29. The Queen of the Tambourine by Jane Gardam (1991)

30. Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther (1939)

31. The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins (1954)

32. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (1971)

33. The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley (1984)

34. Mariana by Monica Dickens (1940)

35. The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway (1989)

36. The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1956)

37. After Leaving Mr Mackenzie by Jean Rhys (1930)

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