Great rereading found among 1942 bestsellers

The 1942 bestseller list introduced me to several novels I quickly added to my list of novels to read again—probably several times.

The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck and Dragon Seed by Pearl S. Buck are novels about life in occupied territory. Steinbeck sets his novel in a European town where an invading army learns that occupation is far more difficult than invasion.

Buck tells a story of Japanese-occupied China. An illiterate farmer Ling Tan and his family organize the local resistance. As they succeed in harassing the occupying enemy, Ling Tan worries about whether their facility for killing won’t ultimately destroy them.

Marguerite Steen’s The Sun Is My Undoing has a third perspective on the relationship between the conquerer and the conquered. Her whopping, great novel looks at the financial rise and personal disintegration of a British slave trader in the late 1700s.

Henry Bellamann’s King’s Row is a striking contrast to those three novels about sweeping events in history. History detours around King’s Row. All that happens in that sleepy little country town is that one man is quietly noble.

If at least one of these four novels doesn’t give you goosebumps, you should turn in your library card: your obituary will be in Friday’s paper.

© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni

My top pics from the 1941 bestseller list

The 1941 bestseller list  contains two  fine novels:  For Whom the Bell Tolls (a hold-over from 1940’s bestseller list) and The Sun is My Undoing.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a classic by an acknowledged master of fiction, Ernest Hemingway. It is the superior book in terms of its literary quality. However, it’s subject—an insider view of an insurgency—seems positively wimpy compared The Sun is My Undoing by an untouted novelist, Marguerite SteenSteen writes about the  slave trade from the perspective of a slave trader

The rest of the 1941 line consists of relatively undistinguished novels of which James Hilton’s Random Harvest is best known and H. M. Purlham, Esquire by John P. Marquand is the best written.

Linda Gorton Aragoni