Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The squire (Bagnold) 246

I was surprised to find that Enid Bagnold had written novels for adults, as I know her as the author of the children's story National Velvet. So I was interested to come across The Squire as part of VVV. According to the blurb at the front of the book she was forced to publish her earliest novels (she wrote four, and this is the second) under a pseudonym as her father was somewhat embarassed to have a writer daughter.

Unfortunately I didn't really enjoy this book as much as National Velvet. It tells the story of The squire, a woman in late pregnancy, awaiting the arrival of her 5th child. I was confused from the start because I always thought Squires were male! Her husband has gone away on a business trip to Bombay and will arrive back after the birth of the baby, and the book is essentially a languid exposition on motherhood and pregnancy.

It was written in the 1920s and published in 1930, and I can imagine that it must have seemed slightly shocking to have such discussions of childbirth, breastfeeding and childcare in a novel, and can understand why Bagnold's father insisted on the pen name.

There are two more books by Bagnold published as Virago Modern Classics so I shall have to see if I have better luck with those.

Just published the once by Virago, a lovely green edition (see above) which I own.


  1. I bought this as part of the infamous age concern haul, and have to admit that your review has confirmed my suspicions of how I'll feel about it.

    Another question entirely - but can you tell me where I can find a definative list of Virago modern classics?

  2. I thought this was amazing when I read it - I loved the heady, intoxicating feeling it gave of being closeted away during that special time of childbirth and the immediate days afterwards.

    I read it when my sister was heavily pregnant with her second child and gave it to her to read but as she said - the idea of being shut away for a week with her baby would be lovely but highly unrealistic in this day and age!!

  3. Hayley - what Rachel says suggests that you may still like it! I have emailed you re your other question...

    Rachel - maybe I was a bit too influenced by the fact that I never want children?!

  4. The LibraryThing Virago group have a list of VMCs that they have compiled (it's definitive).

    An exposition on motherhood and pregnancy sounds like something that would interest me despite being childless by choice.

    I hadn't realised she had written National Velvet; I too loved that book as a child.

  5. I have The Happy Foreigner by her, as usual I haven't read it yet but it does sound rather good.