Ourselves to Know is my top choice of the 1960 bestsellers. John O’Hara navigates the slender path between trashy pulp and literary dullness with n’er a slip. As the characters come to know themselves, readers experience some personal revelations as well.
Far less complex, but satisfying in their own way, are The Constant Image by Marcia Davenport and The Lovely Ambition by Mary Ellen Chase.
The Constant Image explores the role of cultural views of sex in marriage through the lens of an affair between an American woman and Italian man.
The Lovely Ambition is a warm, homey story of a English clergyman and his family who settle in Maine and open their home to residents of the state asylum.
Equally heartwarming is the more male-oriented Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevile Shute in which a warmhearted mechanic travels around the world to recover diamonds intended for his orphaned niece’s care.
If you haven’t read some of these novels, please see if your local library has one or more of them. There are still a few chilly late winter days ahead when you’ll be glad to stay in with a good book.
Coming soon: bestsellers from 1950.