My Picks of 1953 Novels Celebrate Heroism of Unheroic Men

Beyond This Place Whopping big books with important messages dominate the 1953 bestseller list. Not one of those hefty novels is one  I’d dig out to read a second time.

The novels with the most entertainment per pound are among the thinnest of the 1953 novels: Beyond This Place by A. J. Cronin and Time and Time Again by James Hilton.

Cronin and Hilton were prolific writers who knew how to write novels that translated well into films. Hilton even worked as a Hollywood screenwriter. Their names were, if not household words, instantly recognizable to the reading public on both sides of the Atlantic for a large portion of the twentieth century.

dust jacket of Time and Time AgainIn their 1953 bestsellers, Cronin and Hilton tell stories of men remarkable for their ordinariness. Cronin’s protagonist is career foreign service officer nearing retirement age; Hilton’s is a young collegian planning a teaching career.

Each of these unlikely heroes would laugh at the idea of doing anything heroic. They go on playing the bit role life assigned them until they each tumble into a situation they cannot in good conscience ignore.

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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