The 1940s were good years for novels with strong protagonists and great storytelling. The decade began with these 10 topping the sales charts:
1. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
2. Kitty Foyle by Christopher Morley
3. Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther
4. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
5. The Nazarene by Sholem Asch
6. Stars on the Sea by F. van Wyck
7. Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts
8. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
9. Night in Bombay by Louis Bromfield
10. The Family by Nina Fedorova
The Steinbeck and Hemingway novels are still widely read.
As popular as these novels were, they are getting difficult to find. Originals printed on cheap, war-time paper are brown and crumbling. Let’s hope they come back as as e-books or reprints.
At least half the novels on the list were made into films that didn’t do justice to their print origins. The film version of Mrs. Miniver bears almost no resemblance to the book.