The Years Of My Life ~ 1950

04241FD6-393A-4ED1-A603-FCCF60EA9B7DAt the back end of last year I set myself the task of reading three books from each of the years in which I have been alive: a contemporary novel, a piece of crime fiction and a children’s book. I got as far as 1949, the year of my birth, before the whole issue of moving reared its head and so the project stalled.  I’m hoping that I will now be able to get back to it and at least complete 1950 before this year is over.

As far as possible my aim was to chose novels that I hadn’t read before, although as I remember commenting at the time, having spent several decades teaching children’s literature it wasn’t going to be easy where that particular category was concerned.  That’s certainly proved to be true for 1950 and to start with I thought I might opt for a re-read of Enid Blyton’s In The Fifth at Malory Towers, one of a series of books which were extremely influential where I was concerned because they taught me that girls could aspire to do more in life than work in a shop or a factory, the careers that most of the women I knew followed.  The fact that all the girls I was reading about obviously came from very different backgrounds to mine never even crossed my mind.  If they could aspire to be teachers, writers, musicians, then so could I.  I’d pretty much decided to track down a copy of Blyton’s book when I suddenly noticed that the first of Lorna Hill’s ballet series, A Dream of Sadlers Wells, was published that year.  Now I never wanted to be a ballerina, I never wanted to be a dancer of any sort, but I did enjoy those books. So, a secondhand copy is winging its way to me even as I write and I am fairly certain that that is where I shall begin my exploration of the 1950s.

Where the other two books are concerned, I have been able to select new reads.  I thought I would stumble over the crime novel but then discovered that one of Josephine Tey’s Alan Grant series, To Love and Be Wise came out in 1950. I’ve read the better known  books in the sequence but not this one and have been able to track down a library copy so that is my detective fix sorted.

As for the contemporary novel there was really no competition.  I’ve recognised for a long time that a disgraceful gap in my reading has been my ignorance of the works of Barbara Pym.  I keep saying that I’ll do something about it and then never get round to making the effort.  Some Tame Gazelle is a 1950 publication and so reading that will kill the proverbial two birds with one book.  That’s on order from the library as well.

I don’t aim to read more than one of these a month and I know that as soon as the Lorna Hill arrives I shall foresake all others and devour it straight away, so that is the review you can expect first.  In the meantime, what do you think of my choices?  Do you approve or are there other books that you think I should have chosen instead?

24 thoughts on “The Years Of My Life ~ 1950

  1. Jennifer September 5, 2018 / 6:35 am

    What a great idea! I am going to think about attempting this myself.


    • Café Society September 5, 2018 / 8:44 am

      Let me know how that goes, Jennifer. It would be fascinating to compare choices.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer September 6, 2018 / 2:29 am

        I’ll put it on hold until November as I’ve too much on between now and then. I certainly will let you know if I proceed so that we can compare choices.


  2. JacquiWine September 5, 2018 / 7:20 am

    I loved Some Tame Gazelle – Barbara Pym at her most observant and charming. I really hope you enjoy it too!


    • Café Society September 5, 2018 / 8:46 am

      I feel very guilty about Pym, Jacqui because so many of my blogging friends clearly rate her very highly and one of my best book group friends would site her as her favourite author and yet I’ve never done anything about it. Time to rectify matters.


      • JacquiWine September 5, 2018 / 8:55 am

        It’s a great one to start with, I think – and it will certainly give you a feel for her style. Enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A Life in Books September 5, 2018 / 7:25 am

    I also have very fond memories of the Malory Towers series but it’s possible that you’re better off reading the Hill and keeping yours that way.


    • Café Society September 5, 2018 / 8:47 am

      You’re probably right, Susan, although I did enjoy her Rockingdown Mystery when I read it for 1949, and in its way that was just as influential.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Liz September 5, 2018 / 8:32 am

    This is a great project! I have only recently discovered Josephine Tey via The Daughter of Time, which I really enjoyed, so will definitely look out more of her stuff. I am also someone who has never read Barbara Pym and will need to rectify that some time! As for Malory Towers, I’m now right back in my youthful bedroom avidly devouring the next in the series. I wonder how well they would stand up now. And would they have the same appeal for my 12 year old niece in today’s times? Must find out…!! 😀


    • Café Society September 5, 2018 / 8:51 am

      I think most people come to Tey through The Daughter of Time, Liz. I know I did. And if I’m honest, I haven’t enjoyed any of her other books quite as much; maybe this will be the one to change that. There have been more recent adventures of Malory Towers published by modern author; I haven’t read any of them. I would say that the original books would be too young for current twelve year olds; they are a lot more sophisticated in their tastes and life experiences than we were.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz September 5, 2018 / 2:54 pm

        That’s a great point and a good steer, thanks. It is hard enough to get my niece to read anything at all, so important to get any pitches rights! At least there is plenty of choice for young readers around these days, which is great. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. FictionFan September 5, 2018 / 9:35 am

    I had to go look at Wikipedia of course – can never resist a book list. What a great year 1950 was for fiction of all sorts! Must have been post-war euphoria or something. The Martian Chronicles and I, Robot in sci-fi – both well-deserved classics. A Murder is Announced and Strangers on a Train in crime. Daphne du Maurier, AJ Cronin, Ernest Hemingway… you were spoilt for choice! Hope you enjoy the ones you’ve chosen.


    • Café Society September 5, 2018 / 9:40 am

      I did think about Strangers on a Train because I haven’t read it, although I have seen the film. But the Tey was completely unknown to me, so on balance I decided to opt for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Laila@BigReadingLife September 5, 2018 / 5:57 pm

    The Barbara Pym is great – she’s one of my very favorites and I was just telling my husband a few days ago that I’m in the mood to read more of her books. I’ve got three of hers on my Classics Club list. I hope you enjoy Some Tame Gazelle.


  7. kaggsysbookishramblings September 5, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    Good choices! Pym and Tey are great authors. Though I would probably have gone for the Blyton!


    • Café Society September 5, 2018 / 6:54 pm

      Well really, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t read the Blyton as well 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. helen September 6, 2018 / 11:35 am

    This is a lovely project and I think you’ve picked some good books! I like Pym very much though I haven’t read that one, and I’m always meaning to read some more Tey… I LOVED the Lorna Hill books as a child and am intrigued to know what you make of Dream since I’ve never reread any of them.

    I was also a big fan of the Malory Towers books, how I longed for my school to have a sea swimming-pool (heh, I THINK I’ve got that right?). She’s a great writer for children but I have to say as an adult reading The Faraway Tree books to my daughter I have found her work to be a bit painful, perhaps some of her other books have aged better.


    • Café Society September 11, 2018 / 8:05 am

      Yes, you’re quite right, Helen, the pool was a sea water one. Having been used to the same sort of thing when I was a child, I’m not so keen on the idea. The one I swam in was often very murky (and possibly very mucky as well).


  9. Julia's books September 6, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    That’s some challenge! A good one though – best of luck with it.


  10. heavenali September 6, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    What a brilliant idea. I am doing A Century of Books this year which is one book for each year of a century – though not in chronological order. Some Tame Gazelle is wonderful so well observed, it is Pym at her best. Hope you love it.


    • Café Society September 11, 2018 / 8:06 am

      I thought you were a Pym aficionado, Ali. I must introduce you to my friend Susan, who lives quite close to you and is another great fan.


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