1954 did not produce a bumper crop of bestselling novels. Even Taylor Caldwell, Frances Parkinson Keyes, and Daphne du Maurier — authors whom I usually count on to provide entertainment and a bit more besides — disappointed me.
John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday and Hamilton Basso’s The View from Pompey’s Head are the best of the lot and neither of them is a novel I want to have close at hand for convenient rereading. Sweet Thursday is a bit too light, Pompey’s Head a bit too studied.
The best of the novels of 1954 is the one that didn’t make the bestseller list that year: Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It’s a keeper.