Most studies of the interwar years have focused on literary elites, rendering the era and its literature in almost exclusively male terms. Alison Light argues that we cannot make sense of the English character in the period, or understand the changes within literary culture, unless we recognize the extent to which the female population represented the nation between the wars.
From the traumatic aftermath of the First World War, "Forever England" traces the making of a conservative national temperament which could be defensive and protective, yet modernizing in outlook. In a series of literary analyses, Light defines this new version of "Englishness"; in particular, she looks at new kinds of readership and fiction, at the historical and emotional significance of the "whodunit," the burgeoning of historical romance, and the creation of a middlebrow culture.
As a feminist inquiry, "Forever England" argues for a social and political history that connects the interior structures of private life with their more public and national forms. It also makes the controversial proposal that feminism should come to terms with conservative, as well as radical, desires and their place in women's lives.
Scholarly and passionate, "Forever England" will appeal to those interested in the boundaries between literature and history and their different forms of story-telling, as well as the changing shapes of national and sexual identities.
." . . scrupulously researched, and fluently and lovingly written. It is original and imaginative, and will come to occupy a seminal place in cultural history."
-Angela McRobbie, "New Statesman and Society
"[T]his beautifully written book brilliantly demonstrates that a "woman-centered" perspective on the world does not guarantee that it will be radical."
-Elizabeth Wilson, "The Guardian
"As light remarks in her introduction, feminist criticism has tended to dismiss the inter-war years as a kind of benighted age when women stoo still or even fell back, socially and politically, a dead period between the first and second waves of feminism. "Forever England gives us reasons to reevaluate the lives and the acheivements of women during this era and thereby opens up a fascinating and rewarding new area for feminist researchm in the United States as well as in Great Britain."
-"Women's Review of Books