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Brit Lit by WomenClassic 20th-Century Novels

Book Collection

The hilarious, the devastating, the trivial, and the profound all collide in these visionary works from six of the greatest British women novelists of the 20th century. Aroon St. Charles—the delusional narrator of Molly Keane’s Good Behaviour—understands nothing and yet reveals everything. Hilary Mantel wrote that she wished she had written this tragicomedy of defective self-reflection. Open Caroline Blackwood’s Corrigan and be baffled by a thrilling psychological investigation into what could be the manipulation of an old woman, or something else altogether. In Francis Wyndham’s words, this is a novel “like a box of chocolates with amphetamine centers.” From the weird world of Barbara Comyns comes The Juniper Tree, a harsh fable about motherhood and an inversion of the Brothers Grimm tale of the same name.

In Elizabeth Taylor’s A Game of Hide and Seek, the suburban backwaters shimmer dangerously with the potential of forsaken love from long past. Harriet and Vesey are caught in the trap of their own desires, which threaten to fracture their adult lives. For something nuttier, look to Leonara Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet. Perfect for fans of Pynchon and Bolaño, this hallucinatory novel romps through Mexico, the apocalypse, and a quest for the Holy Grail. Save Sylvia Townsend Warner’s The Corner That Held Them for last—and savor it. Quiet things thrum with profound meaning in this spare historical novel set in a Benedictine Convent at the time of the Black Death. This perfect novel is a poignant picture of a world run by women and a timely reflection on the humanity found only in community.