“The 10 Best Neglected Literary Classics,” from the Guardian

Source: Rachel Cooke, “The 10 best Neglected literary classics – in pictures,” http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2011/feb/27/ten-best-neglected-literary-classics, The Observer, Sunday 27 February 2011

The always-watchful Robert Nedelkoff passed along this link from last month. Noting the BBC’s dramatisation of Winifred Holtby’s long-neglected novel, South Riding, Rachel Cooke proposes ten more titles worth rediscovering. Fortunately for interested readers, all are in print–at least in the U.K.–thanks to Virago Press, Persephone Books, Capuchin Classics, NYRB Classics, and others.

Here is the full list of titles:

• The Real Charlotte, by Somerville and Ross (1894)

• The Vet’s Daughter, by Barbara Comyns (1959)

“The Vet’s Daughter tells the story of 17-year-old Alice, who lives with her savage veterinary father (a “terrible genie” in a waxed moustache and yellow gloves) in a horrible south London suburb. When she escapes his tyranny – she moves to the country, where she discovers a peculiar talent – Alice’s life seems to be improving. But it can’t last. A return to Daddy and his new wife and things grow nastier than ever. Nightmarish.”

• The Rector’s Daughter, by F. M. Mayor (1924)

• School for Love, by Olivia Manning (1951)

“School for Love tells the story of Felix Latimer, a young orphan who is marooned in wartime Jerusalem, alongside other flotsam and jetsam, in lodgings belonging to the repulsive Miss Bohun. A tremendous book about the way in which war makes adults of children – and avarice monsters of us all.”

• The Wife: A Novel, Meg Wolitzer (2003)

• A Way of Life, Like Any Other, Darcy O’Brien (1977)

“A Way of Life, Like Any Other is a coming-of-age story like no other. Set in 50s Hollywood, the novel is narrated by a teenager called Salty, whose father once starred in westerns and whose mother was a goddess of the silver screen. In the old days, they enjoyed the high life, but now their careers have crashed, their marriage is broken, and the only way is down.”

• The Odd Women, George Gissing (1893)

• The Blank Wall,Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (1947)

“The Blank Wall has been filmed twice – as The Reckless Moment in 1949, and as The Deep End in 2001 – and its author was admired by Raymond Chandler. But does it hold up today? Oh, yes. Lucia Holley is a suburban housewife coping alone while her husband serves in the Pacific. Then, one morning, she finds the body of her teenage daughter’s dubious lover and, desperate to protect her family, rapidly becomes implicated in his murder. Will she keep her cool? Atmospheric and difficult to put down, Sanxay Holding is as clinical and as clever as Patricia Highsmith.”

• Ann Veronica, by H. G. Wells (1909)

• [The Victorian Chaise-longue, Marghanita Laski (1953)

“Melanie Langdon, spoilt and sickly and recovering from TB, lies down on her antique chaise-longue one afternoon in 1953 and wakes up trapped inside the body of a young Victorian woman called Milly. Is she dreaming? No. Melanie really is marooned in a claustrophobic world that stinks of stale clothes, rancid butter and hypocrisy (judging by the whispers of the servants, Milly has been involved in some kind of scandal). More terrifyingly, the body Melanie inhabits is far frailer than her own. A book that will cure you for ever of your secret longing to live in Barsetshire.”

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