Friday, 11 October 2019

In Praise of Reprints

When I first started blogging I had quite a lot of bookish blogs on my reading list. Some featured the type of serious books that I was never likely to read but one blog I've been pleased to follow ever since is Furrowed Middlebrow. 

Scott's interest in British women's fiction from 1910- 1960 coincided with so many books I'd read or shelved when I worked in libraries in the 1970's, many were so familiar but he often reviewed books impossible to find so it was very exciting when he linked up with Dean St Press to re-print books from that period, books long forgotten and long out of print.

I added several to wish lists and have been lucky to receive a few, buy one or two and borrow a couple more from the library. There are 38 FM books now with 8 more due in  January.

Company in the Evening by Ursula Orange was one I was given, read  and enjoyed back in 2017



Vicky is a young happily divorced single mother with a good job but when war breaks out and her brother is killed she agrees to have her pregnant sister-in-law come to live with her. Rene had been living with Vicky's mother who thinks it would be good for Vicky to have "company in the evening".
The book is written in the first person and Vicky thinks "Of all the unhappiness my divorce has brought upon me, loneliness has never been in the least a part. Lack of company in the evening is to me an absolute luxury".
Unfortunately Rene and Blakey (the elderly housekeeper) don't see eye to eye on anything and once the baby arrives there is a lot of friction in the house. Add in an unexpected meeting with her ex-husband, a difficult client at work and an illness for her little daughter and this makes a brilliant story.

At the end of the post I wrote about this book I said I would add Tom Tiddlers Ground by the same author to my wish list , but it wasn't ever bought so I was Very Excited when I spotted the book in a box at a car boot sale a few weeks ago.

I've now read it and enjoyed just as much as I did Company.... The gorgeous cover - from a painting by Eric Ravillious is a treat even before opening the book to read.


Tom Tiddlers Ground is about two women, friends at school but Very different and is set in the first year of WWII.
 Caroline Cameron - charming and superficial, evacuates herself and two year old daughter from London in the early days of the war to stay with an old school friend Constance Smith - completely opposite of Caroline in every way.
Caroline has been happily married to John for 8 years but recently has begun contemplating an affair with a handsome actor. Constance is married to Alfred, not happily  but she would be the last to admit it.
Other people in  the story are another evacuee and her sickly child, also billeted with Constance (who luckily owns a large house once belonging to her parents) Constance's elder brother George. A young  girl....Lavinia who Alfred is teaching to drive she imagines herself in love with Alfred. Lavinias Father  - Sir Robert, once Alfred's employer and Alfred's half sister Mary.

 This is a witty look at troubles and changes with evacuees and disastrous marriages and how people forced together can bring out the best in each other.


Dean Street Press are not the only company reprinting books that I enjoy. I've often mentioned Persephone Books. Publishing just 5 books each year, mainly by women writers and usually on the more serious side although they have overlapped with Dean St Press by publishing some D.E Stevenson.
Little Toller Books that I mentioned HERE who re-publish non-fiction country books. A company called Agora Books who publish all sorts but have brought back all the crime books by George Bellairs written in the 40's, 50's and 60's and of course The British Library Crime Classics who've rescued loads of books from obscurity.

It seems there is no chance of my ever running out of interesting books to read........old or new.


Back Tomorrow
Sue

19 comments:

  1. I don't know Ursula Orange at all, must check her out. But I DO know about Ravilious, he has local connections in Dorset. And my SIL gave me a calendar with an ER painting for each month. Now we're approaching the end of the year, I'm thinking of creative ways to recycle it!

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    1. No, I hadn't come across the name in the time I worked in the library, so her books had disappeared not long after they were published.
      The calendar must be really lovely

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  2. Really fancy Tom Tiddler's Ground so will look out for that. I can relate to lack of company being a luxury, but only because I know I can change my mind! It must be awful to be genuinely lonely. xx

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    1. Both books are really good, sadly forgotten about for 70 years

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  3. I have not come across Ursula Orange before either - love the name and the book cover. I will look out for them at the library.

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  4. Further research shows that of the three library services for which I have tickets (Bournemouth, Dorset and Norfolk) the first two have nothing - but Norfolk stocks ALL of Ursulas books. Roll on half term!

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    1. Well done Norfolk libraries. I may have to join next time I'm in Diss so I can borrow 'Begin Again'. Col used to have a Norfolk card because the main Norwich library had more RAF and WWII type books that he liked to read and we would go to Harleston (where there is also a big charity book shop) to pick them up

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  5. That Tom Tiddler's cover is indeed wonderful.

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    1. Just been looking at other Ravillious images - brilliant.

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    2. Persephone Books (as mentioned above) reprinted 'Long Live Great Bardfield' which is the autobiography of Tirzah Garwood, a very talented wood engraver. She married Eric Ravililous and they set up a group of artists in Great Bradfield in Essex. - Interesting times.

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    3. "Two Women in a Garden" - that is Tirzah Garwood on the right shelling peas, and on the left Charlotte Bawden. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirzah_Garwood#/media/File:Two_Women_in_a_Garden_(Ravilious).jpg

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  6. So pleased that you're a fan of Ursula, Sue! Thank you for all your kind words and your support!

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    1. I just love to share good books and have enjoyed lots of your reprints. Looking forward to getting some more for Christmas and then the January batch

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  7. I wonder if you have come across any books by Josephine Tey. This is a pseudonym - her name was Elizabeth Macintosh and she is a relative of mine, my mother's second cousin. She was an author and playwright who wrote in the 40's and 50's. I have read several of her crime mysteries and own a copy of "Daughter of Time". Her most famous novel was "A Shilling For Candles" which she wrote in 1937. Worth a read!

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    1. We read The Franchise Affair at school (in 1968) and I've enjoyed her book ever since. I think my favourite is Brat Farrar

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    2. I've read several back in the 70's and they were really popular when I first worked in the library. They've been reprinted many times and I actually picked up most of them to re-read from a car-boot sale about 4 years ago - haven't got round to them yet.

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  8. I have to admit that most of the books I read are by women authors. The covers of those books do look wonderful!

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  9. Love the covers on those books.

    God bless.

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