Page 68 - PB Cat 1999-2021
P. 68

RC Sherriff’s Journey’s End (1929) is one of the great stage plays and this novel shares its emphasis on real people leading real lives; but the atmosphere could not be more different, describing as it does the kind of mundane normality the WW1 soldiers longed for.
The Fortnight in September RC SHERRIFF
‘The story,’ Sherriff wrote, ‘was a simple one about a small suburban family on their annual fortnight’s holiday at Bognor Regis, from their last evening at home until the day they packed their bags for their return; how the father found hope for the future in his brief freedom from his humdrum work; how the children found romance and adventure; how the mother, scared of the sea, tried to make the others think she was enjoying it.’
The Fortnight in September, a bestseller in 1931, was a brave book to write because it was not ‘about’ anything except the ‘drama of the undramatic’. And yet the greatness of the novel is that, as the Spectator wrote at the time, ‘there is more simple human goodness and understanding in this book than in anything I have read for years.’
Endpapers taken from ‘Dahlias’, a 1931 design for a dress silk by Madeleine Lawrence. The family in the novel would have grown dahlias, which flower in September, in their Dulwich garden; they would be the one thing they missed while
they were away.
‘Along the Shore’ 1910 by Joseph Southall © The artist’s estate / Gallery Oldham
 NO 67
 336pp PERSEPHONE BOOKS ISBN 9781903155578

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