Rose Macaulay's 'householding' comedy Crewe Train (1926), doubtless appealed to middlebrow women readers in the interwar years who were concerned with the tension between domestic sophistication and ordinariness: a middlebrow preoccupation. Nicola Humble describes the feminine middlebrow novel as one 'that straddles the divide between the trashy romance or thriller on the one hand, and the philosophically or formally challenging novel on the other. Middlebrow women's fiction has been accused of being conservative with an emphasis on their relationship to domesticity, sexuality and marriage. Middlebrow domestic fiction sits alongside other aspects of middlebrow culture, such as manuals of domestic instruction which offered housekeeping tips that made the acquisition of sophistication possible. Critical writing about Rose Macaulay frequently points to her awareness of her period's shifts in gender politics. D A Boxwell observes in Non-Combatants and Others, and its exploration of how 'thoughts' can be used to make peace instead of war, in particular in the military use of maternal imagery.