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Spell the Month in Books: September 2023  link up

piles of unread books

Spell the Month in Books is a linkup hosted by Jana from Reviews From the Stacks which challenges us to spell the current month with the first letter of book titles, e(xcluding articles such as ‘the’ and ‘a’). If that wasn’t challenging enough, Jana ups the stakes by choosing a theme for each month — this month it is books from your TBR.

I thought I’d try to spell September using only TBR books that are part of my Classics club list but sadly I couldn’t come up with multipel books all beginning with the letter E. So I’ve taken the simpler random path.

Stranger Within The Gates by Bertha Thomas

Welsh author Bertha Thomas wrote most of the tales that comprise this collection around the beginning of the twentieth century. They were re published by Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press in 2008.

This is a collection of witty, sharply observed short stories written at a time of great social change, when the fundamental rights of women were being questioned. Bertha Thomas deftly sketches her characters with a keen eye for satirical detail. Her stories are by turns Gothic, romantic, funny and fantastic but always engagingly written.

Honno Welsh Women’s Press

The Earth (La Terre) by Emile Zola 

I have way to go in my reading of Zola’s Rougon-Macquart before I get to The Earth/La Terre, the novel that he regarded as his greatest. A tale of the disintegration of a family of agricultural workers, its earthiness was used as evidence in a trial for obscenity against Zola’s British publishers.

Peking Picnic by Ann Bridges

I have a vague recollection that I bought this book in a library sale, not knowing anything about the author.

Peking Picnic is set in the 1920s where the British diplomatic community live in a bubble that protects them from the reality of the outside world. The bubble is burst however when some members of the group undertake a three-day expedition to visit a great temple, bringing them close to violence and danger. The trip will turn out to be a journey of self discovery and personal growth that they never imagined when they set off, 

Tender Is The Night by F Scott Fitzgerald 

One day someone in the British television world will make a decent book-related programme. The 2021 series Write Around the World with Richard E Grant was a good effort though very short lived with only three episodes and no sign of the promised follow up. Still, he did persuade me to buy Tender is The Night.

Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick’s harrowing demise


Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton 

Set in the US fictional town of Starkfield, Massachusetts, Wharton’s novel tells the story of Ethan Frome, married to a sickly wife but in love with the woman who is her cousin and also her companion. Goodreads describes this book as one of the finest and most intense narratives in American literature. Praise that I surely can’t ignore??

The Man Who Knew Too Much by C K Chesterton

The eight adventures in this classic British mystery trace the activities of Horne Fisher, the man who knew too much, and his trusted friend Harold March. Although Horne’s keen mind and powerful deductive gifts make him a natural sleuth, his inquiries have a way of developing moral complications. Notable for their wit and sense of wonder, these tales offer an evocative portrait of upper-crust society in pre–World War I England.


I’m hoping this will be more interesting and coherent than my experience of reading G K Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday which was so dull and confusing I abandoned it half way through.

Belinda by Maria Edgeworth

The lively comedy of this novel in which a young woman comes of age amid the distractions and temptations of London high society belies the challenges it poses to the conventions of courtship, the dependence of women, and the limitations of domesticity. Contending with the perils and the varied cast of characters of the marriage market, Belinda strides resolutely toward independence.


I added this to my Classics Club list because it included an unusual inter-racial element though I then learned this was watered down in later editions. I’m not a great lover of comedy in fiction, especially when it’s of the early nineteenth century variety, so I’m not entirely sure it will be to my taste.

The Edwardians – Vita Sackville West 

I bought this book having loved Sackville-West’s later novel All Passion Spent when I read it a few years ago. The Edwardians, one of her most esteemed novels is a critique of the Edwardian aristocratic society which focuses on a young man who is a duke and heir to a vast country estate. He feels a deep sense of tradition though he loathes the social circus he is a part of as a result of his position and inheritance.

Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell

I’m slowly making my way through Gaskell’s novels and this has been on my TBR for several years now, patiently waiting its turn.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Ruth ithe first mainstream novel to make a fallen woman its eponymous heroine. It is a remarkable story of love, of the sanctuary and tyranny of the family, and of the consequences of lies and deception, one that lays bare Victorian hypocrisy and sexual
double-standards. Shocking to contemporary readers, its radical utopian vision of a pure woman faithfully presented predates Hardy’s Tess by nearly forty years. 


If you fancy having a go at Spell the Month, you’ll find all the info you need on the website of the host, Reviews From the Stacks. The theme for October will be books containing a number or colour. Hm, that sounds tough

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