If You Like

Season Three of Downton Abbey started last night here in the States– or Series Three, if we’re going to be British about it– moving from World War I into the postwar period.

If you like books set in England during the early part of the interwar period, you’ll probably like….

The Ashford Affair! A significant part of the book takes place in London in that 1920 stretch as the characters attempt to deal with the tremendous change the war has brought;

— Simone St. James, The Haunting of Maddy Clare, a beautifully written ghost story set in the aftermath of World War I;

— Charles Todd, A Test of Wills, the first Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery, set in the immediate aftermath of World War I;

— Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs and its sequels, mysteries set in that post-war period;

— Rhy Bowen’s Royal Spyness books, starting with Her Royal Spyness, mysteries in which the amateur sleuth is a distant heir to the throne.

For those who like a bit of nonfiction:

— Robert Graves (yes, the same Robert Graves who wrote I, Claudius!), Good-Bye to All That, a moving memoir of both his war years and the dislocation of attempting to settle back into civilian life after;

— Robert Graves, The Long Week-End: A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939, less personal, but still deeply intriguing, Graves’s attempt to makes sense of the interwar years;

— Juliet Nicolson, The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age, an in depth look at English society in the immediate aftermath of the war;

— Anne de Courcy, The Viceroy’s Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters, a book that spans a much longer time period, but the period of the girls’ debuts dovetails with that immediate post-war period.

I’ve made a deliberate choice to leave out all the Mitford and Waugh novels and Bright Young Things books (The Brideshead Generation, Bright Young People, Hons and Rebels) since those don’t really pick up until several years later. That’s a topic for another post….

What early interwar books would you recommend?


  1. Nessa on January 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    One of my favorites is R.F. Delderfield’s “To Serve Them All My Days”.

  2. Am7 on January 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    The Royal Spyness series makes no sense here!
    It takes place in the 1930’s all of it. If you include the Royal Spyness you should Mitford and the rest!

  3. Alice on January 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller. Also the sequel The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton. Both are set in the aftermath of WWI. Also, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.

    • Liz on January 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Absolutely love the mysteries by Elizabeth Speller! Laurence is such a great character, both fully likeable and flawed. Hoping another one comes out soon.

  4. Pat on January 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Dolores Gordon-Smith writes mysteries with Jack Haldean, set right after the Great War. Also, Rennie Airth’s book, River of Darkness, follows John Madden of Scotland Yard after the war; 2 more books takes him to WW2. Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver stories take place postwar into the 1920’s. Barbara Cleverly has 2 series: Joe Sandilands and Laetitia Talbot. I recommend both of them. That pre- and post-Great War era is one of the most interesting to me, so I tend to gravitate to mysteries set then. Oh, and Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series too; the stories are set during the war and Bess is a nurse.

  5. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon on January 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries are wonderful and set in the 1920’s in London and various country houses.

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