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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming, gentle novel, 15 April 2007
By 
A. Hope "bookcrossing ali" (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
This is a delightful novel first published in 1931 - about the Stevens annual fortnights holiday in Bognor. Mr Stevens is a middle aged clerk - his wife a quiet gentle woman who secretly finds this holiday a bit of a strain. Their children, Dick and Mary who are now grown up, and out to work themselves, and Ernie their youngest still a school boy. This is a novel about ordinary people who live small lives, and the things which loom large and have unimaginable importance within that life - such as Mrs Stevens medicinal bottle of port she buys each year on the holiday, and the wearing of comfortable holiday clothes and canvas shoes. This is a charming novel, quite melancholic in some ways - although never sad.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small masterpiece, 6 Sep 2008
This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
I picked up this book with shabby covers in a second hand shop for about 50p, attracted by the title and had no idea what it would be about. It was a surprise to find it was one of the books I have read in a long time.
The family's holiday and all their feelings and thoughts - the excitement of the night before, the journey, arrival, the way time flies yet seems to pass so slowly, is one that is probably shared by most holiday makers, regardless that this book was written over 70 years ago. In that sense it is timeless, because as we see each family members' reflections, I often felt they were voicing my own thoughts and feelings. The Spectator, which reviewed it when it was first published, put it better than I could myself - 'there is more simple understanding and human kindess in this book than anything I have read in years'.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple pleasures, 21 Nov 2009
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
All I can say is that this book was a delight from start to finish; as you read it, you feel almost as if you were living that Fortnight in September in Bognor Regis, the first week moving slowly as all good holidays do ( it takes 100 pages just to make the train journey) and then the days ticking by relentlessly faster until it is time to go home.
The Stevens family are ordinary people, living small lives, making the most of small pleasures like a flagon of ginger beer and hard-won achievements (being able to afford a better class of beach hut, a third-rate private school for their sons). They look forward to their holiday all year and enjoy it all the more for that (how puzzled they would be by the instant gratification of credit cards). Their ambitions are so unassuming that we ache for Mr Stevens when he is passed over for promotion at work, and realises that he will never be more than a clerk in a humdrum job. (What fear there was in those days of losing a job or getting a 'black mark' against one's name.) We ache for 17-year-old Dick, who feels trapped in the 'job for life' that his father has arranged for him. This is a book full of kindness and family loyalty ... Mr Stevens winces when his wife drops an aitch, and wonders wistfully why she has never been more socially adept ... but he loves her and accepts her for herself. The family have returned to the same lodgings every year since the parents' honeymoon; too shabby be comfortable now but they couldn't let down the landlady now she is struggling.
Sherriff once said, 'In a writer the two things that matter above everything else are that he should be keenly, hungrily interested in his fellows, and that he should have the common experience of his time.' It was still possible to have a seaside holiday like this in the 1960s when I was a child (though the book was first published in 1931) and how many half-forgotten memories this evoked for me. Do read it ... look at all those five star reviews, we all feel the better for our fortnight away!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A literary gem, 5 Jun 2009
By 
Mrs. V. Bradley "bookaholic" (Kidderminster, Worcs., England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
What a wonderful book. A very simple concept - a story of an ordinary family taking their annual two week holiday in Bognor, a place they have visited many times before, staying in the same boarding house which has grown a little shabbier with each passing year. Everything is organised by father beforehand - even down to the time it will take to get to the station from home. Not much of a story one might think, but it is beautifully written and the minituae described so well that it makes compelling reading. It is the kind of story to lose oneself in and at the end to feel better for having read it. It is a little dated, of course, having been written in 1931, but I loved it nonetheless.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle delight of a book, 28 Sep 2009
By 
bookelephant (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
Don't be put off by the apparent slightness or the unglamorous nature of the storyline - I simply cannot imagine this book being anything other than loved. The tale of a nice, normal family going on their usual summer holiday in shabby rooms at an unfashionable resort, it is also an object lesson in the profundity of small pleasures - and indeed in the art of creating a happy family. From their appreciation of the joys of the routine of getting ready to go on holiday, which can be made part of the holiday itself, through the ritual adoption of the holiday clothes, the decision on which beach hut to take and the ekeing out of the jar of ginger beer over the fortnight the Stevens family thoroughly understand the happiness to be obtained in recognising each tiny pleasure, and building it into the greater whole. An object lesson in our credit crunched times of how a much better time may be had in a small quiet way, than by grab and spend!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful, 5 Mar 2010
This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book. Such a joy to read. I loved the descriptions of the preparation and building excitement and concerns about the holiday. Nothing very significant happens on the holiday but I felt as though I grew to know this kind and thoughtful family very well. Their thoughts and views about every day things are very similar to those we may have today. There is an underlying sadness to the enjoyment of their holiday and I found myself wanting to continue the story once they returned home. Would the son find a more fulfilling job? Would they all go back to the same B&B next year? What changes would the family face over the coming year? Simply wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively brilliant, 28 April 2012
By 
Donald Hughes (Ruislip) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
This is a gentle story about a family's holiday in Bognor, observing in minute detail their everyday happenings. Hardly sounds a promising basis for a novel, does it........ and yet, this book is exquisitely written, beautifully observed and is touching throughout.
Each of the four older family members is brought face-to-face with recollections of (and reappraisals of) their lives: how the parents met and felt; the father's dashed hopes and missed opportunities; the mother's shyness and resignation to a humdrum life-even on holiday; the son's realisation that he had to break away from the dead-end job initiated by his father; and the daughter's first romantic experiences. All unwinding against the backdrop of "Seaview" and its landlady in distress.
The book conveys a sense of great intimacy, and, strangely, from time to time, I found myself reminded of the Updike Rabbit Angstrom quartet, written a generation later and set 3000 miles away!
I read this book in the Persephone re-print, the quality of which added to my enjoyment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant but gently humorous study of a seaside holiday, 21 Aug 2010
By 
Sarah A. Brown (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
This is a gentle, sympathetic and thoughtful account of a family holiday in Bognor Regis in the 1920s. I liked the nice, wry observations and interesting insights into the day to day realities of life at the time - train travel, seaside boarding houses, money. Budgeting looms large in the novel, and there are many anxious calculations to be made - to splash out on a beach hut or enjoy more trips and other treats? Sherriff - and the characters, particularly the father - is very conscious of the poignant pleasures of a holiday, the ever changing balance between time spent and time still to come, and the way in which this rhythm, with its mixture of hope and disappointment, can be mapped onto the rhythm of life as a whole. (It's probably best appreciated by those past their first youth for this reason.) But with the novel - as with life - you can forget about the bigger questions most of the time if you want to and enjoy the nostalgic period detail, the gentle social comedy, the affectionate characterisation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Precious Piece of Social History, 7 Aug 2010
By 
Isola (Wiltshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
A Fortnight in September is about an uncomplicated family; mother, father and three children, doing normal things. This remarkable novel charts a day to day account of their annual holiday to a B & B in Bognor, from the last evening at home until the day they pack their bags for their return; a poignant tale of simple pleasures and aspirations.

Despite the modest subject matter, R.C. Sherriff's (1931) story is a precious piece of social history and a neglected literary gem. As the British seaside changed little between the 1930s and 1950s, until the introduction of Holiday Camps and Packaged trips abroad, I was whole-heartedly able to relate to this story. I loved the surveillance of a bygone era, the indulgent nostalgia, the 'down to earth' style of writing and understated language that perfectly matched the unassuming family within the pages. Oh how I miss the Stevensons already!

If this novel began as a study in contemporary ordinariness, it has now become a cherished period piece. And if you appreciate the unique observations, quality and style of Margaret Forster or Alan Bennett (minus doom & gloom) you'll thoroughly enjoy 'A Fortnight in September'
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5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring author, 4 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Fortnight in September (Paperback)
Beautiful book received in great condition. I Love R.C sherriff's writing style. More people should read his work! Esp "no leading lady". One of my personal favourites! What an incredible, fascinating and inspiring man!
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The Fortnight in September
The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff (Paperback - 22 Sep 2006)
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