You may have noticed I posted only seven novels in this series on 1938 bestsellers. The 1938 bestseller list contains three novels that had also been on the 1937 list
Of the 1938 entries, none are really great literature — Howard Spring’s My Son, My Son comes closest — but there are several great yarns.
The 1938 bestseller list contains two fine coming-of-age novels, neither of which is about sex.
The Mortal Storm by Phyllis Bottome sets a coming of age story in Nazi Germany in a household half Nazi, half Jewish. The protagonist is a young, female medical student, oblivious to politics until it affects her personally.
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is a better book than the movie version might lead you to believe. It is about a young boy, an only child, who yearns for love and finds it in his family.
Also new in 1938 and still worth reading today is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a fine mystery in the Gothic-romance style, and Action at Aquila by Hervey Allen, a historical romance that defies the cliches of most Civil War novels.
You can’t go wrong with any of those stories.
The first half of All This and Heaven Too, Rachel Field’s biographical novel of her great aunt whose murder trial scandalized Europe in the mid-1800s, is great reading, but the story fizzles in the second half.
Of the novels that carried over from1937, I can recommend only one: The Rains Came by Louis Bromfield. Both The Citadel by A. J. Cronin and Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts are badly flawed, though in different ways.
I hope you’ve found something intriguing from among 1938’s vintage novels.