Book Nineteen: Secret Lives

Secret Lives, E.F. Benson

(Forgive the giant image, but because this book is so out of print, this is pretty much the only cover shot I could find of it.)

Oh goodness, I can't even tell you how wonderful this book is. C got this for me several years ago and has been nicely insisting that I read it, but it just stayed in my stack of to-reads and never really moved. I had a feeling I would love it, but honestly I just never really got around to it. But, oh, I am so glad that I did because I haven't read a book this sweet and funny in a long, long time. It centers around the residents of Durham Square in London in the 30s and their neighborly concerns and gossip. There is a delightful section about a divisive dogs-in-the-garden issue and much about British society and its ridiculousness. But the main plot is about a new tenant of Durham Square who is quite mysterious. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

In fact, I love this book so much and want others to be able to read it, that I just suggested it to NYRB Classics as a book to consider re-issuing. This no doubt qualifies as a lost classic and I hope they recognize that, too!


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