Written with precise clarity, this British novel from 1931 tells the story of a working class family's seaside holiday. Though the plot seems low stakes by 21st century standards, its tender attention to the ups and downs of everyday life make it that rare unicorn of reads-a well written feel good book.— From Sam's Picks
This charming, timeless classic about a family of five setting out on their annual seaside vacation is “the most uplifting, life-affirming novel I can think of...the beautiful dignity to be found in everyday living has rarely been captured more delicately” (Kazuo Ishiguro).
Meet the Stevens family, as they prepare to embark on their yearly holiday to the coast of England. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens first made the trip to Bognor Regis on their honeymoon, and the tradition has continued ever since. They stay in the same guest house and follow the same carefully honed schedule—now accompanied by their three children, twenty-year-old Mary, seventeen-year-old Dick, and little brother Ernie.
Arriving in Bognor they head to Seaview, the guesthouse where they stay every year. It’s a bit shabbier than it once was—the landlord has died and his wife is struggling as the number of guests dwindles every year. But the family finds bliss in booking a slightly bigger cabana, with a balcony, and in their rediscovery of the familiar places they visit every year.
Mr. Stevens goes on his annual walk across the downs, reflecting on his life, his worries and disappointments, and returns refreshed. Mrs. Stevens treasures an hour spent sitting alone with her medicinal glass of port. Mary has her first small taste of romance. And Dick pulls himself out of the malaise he’s sunk into since graduation, resolving to work towards a new career. The Stevenses savor every moment of their holiday, aware that things may not be the same next year.
Delightfully nostalgic and soothing, The Fortnight in September is an extraordinary novel about ordinary people enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
About the Author
R.C. Sherriff was born in 1896. He worked in an insurance office until he joined the East Surrey regiment early in World War I. In 1917, he was severely wounded at Ypres. Journey’s End, based on his letters home from the trenches, was an enormous success and became a classic. In the 1930s, Sherriff went to Hollywood to write the script for The Invisible Man, and subsequently worked on the script for Mrs. Miniver, Goodbye Mr. Chips, and many other successful films. He wrote several novels, including The Fortnight in September, Greengates, and The Hopkins Manuscript before his death in 1975.
"A treasure. . . The Fortnight in September is an absorbing reflection on time and especially how it changes shape in periods like a vacation—or even a pandemic—that aren't bounded by normal routines. . . . the small pleasures of everyday life—like honey, a hot bath and a clear blue early autumn sky—are seen for the gifts they are." —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
"An absolute delight from start to finish. Sherriff’s tender observations of the family dynamics, and the simple joy each of them takes in the highlight of their year, prove him to be an unrivaled master of the quotidian. . . . The novel exerts a spell, one that leaves us hanging on these characters’ every word." —The Paris Review
"A captivating read. . . . quietness is part of the novel's immense charm." —Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A delight. . . . I found myself charmed by this immersion into another life, full of astute observations indicating that maybe things haven’t changed all that much in 90 years. . . . Sherriff’s uncanny way of finding universality in an unremarkable moment is deeply touching." —Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
“Sharply written and a real joy to read.” —Red Carpet Crash
"Extraordinary. . . . The pages are full of anticipation. . . . [T]here’s a sense that time is ticking on these vacations. It must be savored, and so, too, should this very special book." —Booklist Reviews (starred)
"Makes you want to hold on to and notice more fully the people you journey the earth with. What struck me most was the essential goodness of each character. . . . I didn’t want it to end, and when I finished it, I experienced the loss of a good vacation being over." —Ethan Joella, author of A Little Hope