The Pretty Lady by Arnold Bennett
The Pretty Lady by Arnold Bennett.
With an introduction by John Shapcott, then Chairman of The Arnold Bennett Society, now Keele University.
There is no finer novel of civilian life during The Great War than Arnold Bennett's The Pretty Lady. Written during the conflict itself, it has the narrative trus of great storytelling together with the sensationalism of popular journalism.
The book became a best seller in 1918, dispite calls for it to be banned for undermining public morality with its portrayal of a French prostitute operating at the heart of the establishment. More disturbing to the modern ready than the sexual revelations, are Bennett's accounts of bombing raids over London and the threats of mutilation faced by female munitions workers in Glasgow.
The introduction makes the case for the novel as a masterpiece of symbolic realism, unlocking hidden social, polical and psycological realities. From the shady sexual exchanges of the music-hall to the hypocrises of high-society, Bennett exposes the hidden civilian truths behind the line of battle.
Cover picture: The Stairs by Sir J.J. Shannon RA , The Bradford Art Gallery.
Published by Churnet Valley Books.