I was nudged into (re)reading these books by various mentions of them elsewhere. I began with Kitty Barne’s She shall have Music, first published in 1938 and illustrated by Ruth Jervis. I’d read it as a child and this is what I remembered: a girl wants to play the piano but can only practise on an old piano in a church hall; a woman called Rosalba offers to give her proper lessons; she’s entered for a music festival and the judge awards her no marks because of the terrible style she’s copied from Rosalba.

I loved it when I borrowed it from the library all those years ago but time has not been kind to this book. From the start, it seemed so like a Noel Streatfeild story (they were related by marriage and discussed their work). Much as I love Ballet Shoes and always will, I’m not an admirer of Streatfeild’s style. The Forrests are a typical ‘poor’ family. Mother has to bring up four children alone (no mention of Pa). They sell their home in Ireland with its contents and move to a rented house in Bristol. Naturally, faithful Biddy leaves her beloved Ireland to come with them and do all the work. It’s a mystery what mother does, apart from a little mending. What she does not do is notice that her youngest daughter, Karen, is extremely musical. It’s left to Biddy and the charwoman at the parish hall to arrange for her to practise what she learns once a week with nice Aunt Anne. They can afford the rent of a large house in the country for the summer holidays but not piano lessons for a gifted child. Karen’s future is entirely arranged for her by the kindness of strangers and her own determination. I find it hard to believe any mother could be so apparently indifferent to what her child gets up to. Even her brother and sisters are more supportive. There is some good stuff about music in the book, but not enough.
more )


I’m sure many people who visit here are already familiar with the Greyladies imprint. Titles printed so far include adult novels by authors better known for their children’s books, like Josephine Elder and Lorna Hill, novels Noel Streatfeild published as Susan Scarlett and previously unpublished work by D E Stevenson. I needn’t go on as you can see the books for yourself on the website. There are brief reviews of some I’ve read here.

Now Shirley Neilson has a new venture: ‘A Retrospective Literary Review’, known as The Scribbler. I thought I’d buy the first issue before deciding whether or not to take out a subscription and I may be hooked. People still lamenting the demise of Folly magazine will find much to please them here, including articles by some familiar contributors. This first issue includes a short story by D E Stevenson, reviews of novels set in girls’ schools, crime and scandal in girls’ schools and a Literary Trail of the Scottish Borders which will have you searching your shelves for the books mentioned, so that you can read them again. All this and charming period illustrations, too.

If you share my interest in children’s and middlebrow books, The Scribbler could be for you.


Chris in Command, Irene Mossop (1930)
Hazel, Head Girl, Nancy Breary (1952)
Margery Merton’s Girlhood, Alice Corkran (1888)
The Exciting Journey, Norman Dale (1947)
Boys of the Valley School, R A H Goodyear (1925)

I’ve read several old children’s books this month, so here’s a little chat about them.

When I read Lois in Charge followed by Chris in Command and Hazel, Head Girl, I was going to say, ‘What a bossy lot!’ It turned out though that Hazel wasn’t bossy at all: in fact, not bossy enough. I must here fess up and say that I don’t much care for Nancy Breary, or find her books hilariously funny. She’s one of several authors about whom I disagree with Sims & Clare, much as I admire their book, kept permanently by my desk. In Hazel, Head Girl, Breary makes use of the well worn plotline of two schools merging, with resultant feuds and jealousies. Mill House and Dewpoint combine to form Hessington. The girls are determined to hate each other and stick to the habits (and uniform) of their old schools. Hazel, from Dewpoint, has been appointed head girl before term starts. Some people think this is because she’s a heroine. (She took over the controls of a plane after the pilot had a heart attack and landed it safely!) Unfortunately for her, Vice Captain Lydia (from Mill House), is determined to oust her and become head girl herself. Hazel doesn’t take a firm enough line over this rebellion and nasty Lydia nearly gets her way. The juniors are fiercely partisan and a bunch of silly little idiots. As so often in school stories, the girls seem to run everything, with teachers and lessons completely ignored. Hazel bravely struggles on, trying to persuade the girls to give their loyalty to their new school and become Hessington girls.
the rest )
I commented this morning on Furrowed Middlebrow’s blog about how much I like Winifred Darch’s books, which Scott has been reading. So here, for no reason at all except that I like the covers, are some pics.


more )


It’s ages since I read anything by the prolific Bessie Marchant, famed for giving her heroines a hard time in exotic locations. In this book, Lois lives on a coffee plantation in Brazil. From the start it’s difficult to work out all the complications of her family with its half sisters and a stepbrother who really isn’t. A friend tells Lois that she’s never known such a muddled up family. I eventually worked it out like this. Mrs Scarsdale had a son, Jim, and another child who died at the same time as his father. She then married Mr Murray and they had three beautiful daughters. When she died, leaving her girls very well off, Mr Murray married the governess and Lois is their daughter. It’s heavily pointed out several times that Jim is ‘no kin at all’ to Lois, and you can guess why.

Unlike her sisters, Lois is not beautiful (they call her Cinderella) and she knows she’s not very clever, either. She is however very practical and quite a feminist because she wants to work (this book dates from 1919). She’s annoyed by Jim’s critical attitude to her working on the ranch and seeming to want women to be merely ornamental. ‘She tried to imagine a world peopled only by ornamental women, but failed so utterly that she had to fall back on the other side of the picture, and imagine for herself what the world would be like if every girl and woman lived up to the capacity within her, and tried to do her very best in the situation in which she had been placed. But the situation was too Utopian even for the fertile fancy of Lois;’

All is not well amongst the coffee growers because of the evil Black Hand Gang, which blackmails ranch owners into handing over considerable sums of dosh and killing them if they don’t oblige. Jim has his own ranch up river from the Murray’s and suddenly disappears. Lois, who has helped her father for so long that she knows a lot about plantation work, steps into the breach and starts to tackle the manager, whose cruelty to the workers appals her. She finds that Jim has had a warning letter from the gang, which explains his disappearance. She is convinced he is alive but fails to see what is blindingly obvious to the reader but which I won’t reveal. If you can look beyond some of the racial attitudes and snobbery in this book, it’s rather a good read about the triumph of hard work and common sense over idleness and frivolity.
Hah, the posts everyone likes because it means looking at other people’s stuff. It was very busy down there this morning; also very cold. No fantastic bargains but I did get more than usual.

040415markettoiletries

Sanctuary Body Lotion (which I love) and an M&S gift set, £1.50
more )
markethellebore

It was absolutely freezing at the market this morning, but see what I bought.
I love the outward facing flower which means you don’t have to turn it up to see its loveliness. It's far too cold to go out and plant it now, so it's living in the porch for the moment.

markethellebore2
also )
Yesterday evening I watched the third programme in the series Ian Hislop’s Olden Days.. His theme was that the more industrialised Britain became, the more people looked back nostalgically to a largely imagined and romanticised rural past. This is a subject often dealt with before, notably by Roy Strong (link to my review). I’m writing about the programme now because of its interest to readers of Girlsown books.

The end of the nineteenth century saw the foundation of the great conservation societies, like The National Trust, which still exist today. One of these was The English Folk Dance and Song Society, founded By Cecil Sharp. There was some wonderful archive film of Sharp himself dancing with others. Seeing the young women in their tunics, waving handkerchiefs, one knew at last exactly what Elsie J Oxenham’s Abbey Girls looked like when they were dancing (in The Abbey Girls Go Back to School, for instance). Hislop then moved on to the story of Daisy Daking (article by Hilary Clare), known to EJO’s readers as The Pixie. During the First World War she went to France to teach folk dancing to the troops. When I first read about this (in The New Abbey Girls?) I was very sceptical about what good it could possibly have done but I was quite wrong. It seems that shell shocked and depressed soldiers really did enjoy folk dancing and were very grateful to Daisy for her classes.

This was a very literary programme, moving next to Tolkien, with The Shire as an idealised England based on the countryside Tolkien knew as a boy, which had disappeared for good. We got Philip Larkin as well. I particularly liked Hislop’s conclusion that the countryside was a sort of ‘green portal leading to…a better world'. And as he pointed out, two hundred years from now, people may look back on our own times as ‘the olden days’. I’ve hardly touched on all the ideas in this programme, which is well worth catching on the iPlayer if you missed it.

piperettingham

Ettingham Park by John Piper, 1979. In the University of Warwick art collection.
matthewman

Quite a few years ago, I picked up a copy of Phyllis Matthewman’s Timber Girl at a car boot sale. I had no idea it was a scarce book, I was just attracted to it by the subject matter and the New Forest setting. It’s about the Lumber Jills, as the women in the Timber Corps were called. They’re much less well known today than the Land Girls. I found that Matthewman had also written a Land Girl book, Jill on the Land, and have been searching for a reasonably priced copy ever since. One came up on ebay recently but went for much more than I was prepared to pay, so I was pleased when Abe offered me quite a cheap one.

Phyllis Matthewman (1896–1979) wrote school stories and romances. She was a close friend of Elinor Brent-Dyer. The two war-focused books mentioned above are a mixture of propaganda and romance; they aim to show what the women’s work was like and to emphasise its importance, then throw in a love story for light relief. In each case the girls take an immediate dislike to a man they meet early in the book, so if you know your Pride and Prejudice you guess straight away which way things will head.

landgirlposter

Are these girls’ books or adult romances? At the back of Jill (1942) there are advertisements for two of Matthewman’s school stories and for one of Patience Gilmour’s Swans books about Rangers. Jill is a shorter book and the love story is dealt with more perfunctorily than in Timber Girl (1944). I think Timber Girl is the better of the two. There’s a much better sense of place; the New Forest is well described, whereas Jill’s farm could have been almost anywhere. It’s interesting that Jan, the Timber Girl, feels that the Forest has remained unchanged for centuries, as much of it is still just as Matthewman describes it. The work is explained in more detail (it’s almost too instructional in places) and the love story takes up far more of the book. So I think this one was intended for older girls.

I did enjoy reading both books (re-reading in the case of Timber Girl), but there are certain tics in Matthewman’s writing which can irritate. I lost count of the number of times the girls are described as looking ‘trim’ in their uniforms. Another annoyance is the bizarre universal accent she applies to any country person. She herself lived in Surrey, yet she has the Surrey farming folk in Jill speaking a strange version of Mummerset. The New Forest people speak in the same way and it doesn’t sound very Hampshire to me. Nevertheless the books do shed an interesting light on the wartime experiences of young women who gave up the comforts of home in order to do strenuous and sometimes dangerous work. In Timber Girl in particular, there’s a strong emphasis on the way educated girls like Jan get on very well with girls ‘from all walks of life’ i.e. from inferior backgrounds. There’s even a suggestion that the war is in some ways a good thing, because it will shake everything up and lead to a better world in which class differences will be less important. I find these books well worth reading.
Other wartime farming books for girls reviewed here.

All Change )
bluestockings

When I read Clare Balding’s My Animals and Other Family, one thing really shocked me. Her mother was not allowed to go to Cambridge because Clare’s grandmother said she wouldn’t have any ‘bluestockings in the family’. It was the 1960s!. Just goes to show we shouldn’t assume that education for women has been one long march of progress. Reading Jane Robinson’s book, I was impressed by the amount of social mobility in the early days. A surprising number of girls from very poor backgrounds did make it to university, often pushed there by teachers who helped them get grants and scholarships and even took on their parents. Things are not yet perfect on that score. I found an article in The Girl’s Own Annual for 1905 saying that ‘in twenty years’ time’ people would be laughing at the idea that women should not have an Oxford education. If only!
more )
071013girlsown1

Clover Cottage, Frances Cowen, 1958
Young Solario, Marjorie Siddall, 1951
Windmill Hill, Wyn Brocklebank, 1962
The House by the Sea, Hilda Boden, 1962

I have a weakness for children’s books in the second (or even third) rank, often ‘Reward’ books, the kind which were given out as prizes. After immersing myself in new autumn books for a while, I went back in time and read some cosy Girlsown-style books. I have several books by Frances Cowen and I think most people will know The Secret of Grange Farm and The Secret of the Loch. I’ve always thought her a good writer. I looked her up to check the publishing dates of Clover Cottage and found that the British Library lists fifty four books by her, only a few of them for children. Clover Cottage is a happy family tale. Father is often away at sea, Mother lives in a basement flat with elder daughter Margaret (the heroine), a set of twins and a baby. It’s hard work, money is short and when schools break up for the summer, there’s not much chance of a holiday away from the town. Then a solicitor’s letter arrives, telling Mother she’s inherited a cottage in the country. The cottage is in a poor state of repair but Margaret falls in love with it and is convinced they can improve it and live there. The family go to stay on a nearby farm and the rest of the book is about the restoration of the cottage, with a couple of mysteries and a late spanner in the works to spice it up. This book is for you if, like me, you enjoy stories about houses and housekeeping.
more )
The Vicar’s Wife, Katherine Swarz
The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert
Bellman and Black, Diane Setterfield
The Day of Small Things, O Douglas. AGAIN!
Frost Hollow Hall, Emma Carroll
Squire’s Fairing, Elspeth Briggs
An Officer and a Spy, Robert Harris
Clover Cottage, Frances Cowen
Up, Back, and Away, K. Velk
Young Solario, Marjorie Siddall
Windmill Hill, Wyn Brocklebank
The House by the Sea, Hilda Boden

Post coming up on the Girlsown books.
flyingpicannual
From The Giant Modern Annual for Girls, Sunshine Press c.1937.

Have you read any Worrals books? Or the flying adventures written by Dorothy Carter? Until the end of the Second World War, the daring young aviatrix was a standard heroine in girls’ stories. There’s even a school story in which a girl lands a plane on the playing field. If anyone can jog my memory as to which book it is, I’ll be very grateful. In the fifties and sixties girls stopped being pilots and became air hostesses instead, as in the Shirley Flight series. Now Elizabeth Wein has written two YA books about the women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, the ATA.

I started with Rose Under Fire (just out in the UK and not yet in America), because it came from NetGalley. It’s listed as ‘a companion novel’ to Code Name Verity so I downloaded that, too (it’s very cheap for the Kindle). I’d recommend anyone else to read the pair in the right order. Rose Under Fire is set in 1944, after D-Day and the liberation of Paris. Rose Justice is eighteen and from Pennsylvania. She’s been flying since she was twelve and is well able to ferry Tempests and Spitfires around as required. She knows reams of poetry off by heart, especially the poems of Edna St.Vincent Millay, and writes poetry herself. This is quite important to the plot. Her outfit is based on the Hamble (near Southampton; see also Nevil Shute’s Requiem for a Wren). She's close to Maddie, who has lost her best friend ‘killed in action’. The understatement of this, and Maddie’s bravery, only become clear when you’ve read the first book.

So, Rose. She has an uncle who is very influential in high places. Through him she gets a more interesting job than transport and is thrilled to ‘buzz the Eiffel Tower’. Then, on a more routine mission, she gets caught by two German planes and is forced to land. She ends up in Ravensbruck. Back home, she is presumed dead and her boyfriend marries someone else. As Rose realises, the more inevitable the German defeat, the more desperate the Nazis become and the more likely they are to kill all prisoners. The horrors of camp life are made clear but also the loyalty and friendship in the little ‘families’ forced together. To be honest, I found some of this rather boarding school, with the prisoners as schoolgirls outwitting the guards/staff. I also got a little tired of Rose’s poetry, although I loved her Girl Scout songs! The spell in the camp is a useful device for showing the sufferings of the occupied countries, as Rose lives with girls of several nationalities. Their suffering and bravery are made clear. We learn all this because Rose writes the story after the events, in a room in the Paris Ritz. The poor girl is a physical and mental wreck. Can she recover? Will she testify to the horrors she’s seen? The slogan of the women in the camp is ‘Tell the world!’ And Rose does.

roseunderfire

Code Name Verity )
heroineshorseback

Could there be a more enticing book cover than one showing shelves full of books? (I’d lose those Puffin picture books floating around at the top.) Studying the picture closely, as I have done, I’ve been surprised to find just how many of these books I’ve read and even owned at some time. For an un-horsy person I’ve certainly read a lot of pony books, so I’ve been keenly anticipating this book’s publication. I wasn’t disappointed.

Jane Badger is a pony book expert and dealer. Her website (see link on left) is a wonderful resource, with information on just about all the pony books ever written. She hasn’t set out to write academically on the subject; nevertheless the book is rigorously organised, based on wide knowledge and research, and includes some trenchant criticism. First she gives an overview of the history of the pony book, from the early, pony biography (e.g. Black Beauty), to instructional works, through the adventure stories of the pony book heyday from the thirties to the sixties, to modern series like The Saddle Club and the regrettable ‘pink and sparkly’ image given to the pony books of today.

A few authors get chapters to themselves, for example the Pullein-Thompson sisters, Ruby Ferguson and Monica Edwards. Much as I love Monica Edwards, I do think it’s cheating a little to include every book she wrote. If Edwards, why not Stephen Mogridge (a lesser writer, admittedly), whose New Forest series’ characters have many of their adventures while riding? K M Peyton is praised to the skies. I’m prepared to accept the opinion of almost everyone else that her books are wonderful but, sadly, she’s one of my blind spots; I just don’t like her books. The publishers, Girls Gone By, have been lavish with reproductions of book covers and text illustrations and there’s a chapter on the artists. I was pleased to see my own favourite, Anne Bullen, so esteemed. Her pictures of Tamzin and Cascade are so familiar to me they leap off the page. Pony magazines and annuals are also discussed; I can’t think of a topic Jane hasn’t covered. Heroines on Horseback, subtitled The Pony Book in Children’s Fiction, is as enjoyable to read as a good pony story and would appeal to anyone interested in children’s books. I heartily recommend it.
my pony books )
girlnovellogo

Along with my Persephone books haul at the boot sale on Sunday, I bought Wendy and Jinx and the Missing Detective by Valerie Hastings (1957). Wendy and Jinx featured for years in a strip in Girl comic; perpetual fourth formers at Manor School, always spending more time solving mysteries than doing lessons. I used to love them when I was about nine; I think it was the uniforms :-) This book is one of several Girl Novels published by the Hulton Press. The other Girl characters who made it between hard covers were Belle of the Ballet and Susan of St. Bride’s.*

wendyjinxfrontis

Jinx is captain of the form and a natural leader. Wendy is planning a career on the stage. They are best friends but get on well with nearly everyone at school, although there’s rivalry between houses. There are two threads to this novel. One concerns the fourth’s horror when they find that their house mistress Miss Brumble is writing what they consider a truly awful play about fairies, which they are expected to act in. Naturally, being wholesome, sensible girls, they do everything they can to sabotage this ill-conceived project. The second and main plot involves a new girl, Maxine, who is rather mysterious and obviously hiding a great secret. Our heroines have the secret out of her in no time. She and her mother have escaped to Paris (from behind the iron curtain) but don’t know where Maxine’s father is. Oddly, the new science master at the school, Mr Flint (Flint by name and by nature) knows Maxine but cruelly flings her away when she tries to question him about her father. Then he buys a ramshackle cottage in the woods near the school (inexplicably, the girls seem allowed to roam at will), but claims he lives some distance away. There’s a connection between Flint, Maxine’s father and an American art dealer (would you believe a Ruritanian-style inheritance?) which Wendy and Jinx ferret out. How could they not, when Miss Brumble and Mr Flint have identical briefcases?

This is really a school story only in name, although something is thrown in about dorms, tennis matches, and even teachers, to make a setting. Silly as it is, I really enjoyed it and will look out for the other novel about the girls, Wendy and Jinx and the Dutch Stamp Mystery. Valerie Hastings wrote two other school stories: Jill at Hazlemere and Jill Investigates. They were published by The Children’s Press, so they’re quite easy to find. Here’s how the Manor School girls appeared in colour in a Girl annual.

wendyjinxstrip

*Edit: I've just seen there was a Claudia of the Circus book. I don't remember her.
gwyneths

[livejournal.com profile] huskyteer had a great find at the weekend and presented me with a copy of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Make Friends, one of the harder to find books by Elsie J. I was keen to read it to get the back story of Robinetta (Robin) Brent. EJO had a habit of mixing characters from different series and Robin appears in several later books. I don’t have most of those so followed up with the end of Robin’s story in Robins in the Abbey. Robin is twelve in the first book, published in 1909 and twenty when she meets the Abbey crowd in 1947; her transition from Edwardian schoolgirl to post-war young woman is seamless, if ridiculous. Reading these two books back to back was an excellent idea as it demonstrated perfectly why EJO’s early books are so enjoyable while her late ones make you want to scream.

Robin Brent lives with her mother and two brothers while their father is abroad. One day, she receives a solicitor’s letter telling her that she has inherited the estate of Plas Quellyn in North Wales. It turns out that the late owner, the artist Robert Quellyn, had once been in love with Mrs Brent, had made the will in favour of her daughter and never changed it. When the family travel to Wales to visit the estate they find a delightful spot but trouble in the form of young Gwyneth. She had been unofficially adopted by Robert Quellyn and his wife and is now left with nothing. As a result, she refuses all overtures of friendship from the Brents and hides herself away. Gwyneth is a good example of EJO’s tendency to excuse inexcusable behaviour. Theft? Attempted murder? Gwyneth is guilty of both but is just silly and naughty, apparently. All ends well, as you’d expect, and the book is very enjoyable apart from a ludicrous set-to with some would-be burglars. EJO excelled at writing about place and the descriptions of Wales are really beautiful. She was also very good at writing about boys. Robin’s brothers Cuthbert and Dicky are believable and there’s a lot of lively dialogue. It’s a pity she stopped writing this sort of family story and limited herself to writing about girls.
the Abbey )
This is the first time this year that I’ve done a monthly round up; I’ve just written a few reviews. Of course I’ve been reading, but does anyone want to know that I read twenty Daisy Dalrymple books on the trot and enjoyed them? Probably not.

lindenrise
Borrowed image. I wish my copy had this dustwrapper.

Escape to Mulberry Cottage, Victoria Connelly
A Half Forgotten Song, Katherine Webb
A Holiday to Remember, Mary Kennedy
A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny
Strange Affair, Peter Robinson
The Summer House, Mary Nichols
The House in the Square, Joan G Robinson
The Ridleys, Richmal Crompton
Linden Rise, Richmal Crompton
Family Roundabout, Richmal Crompton
The Testing of Tansy, Winifred Norling
thoughts )
montgomerybooks

My L M Montgomery books have been collected over a number of years and are mostly the UK Harrap editions, with or without dustwrappers depending on how lucky I’ve been. Last week I started researching e-books and found some anomalies. For instance, Chronicles of Avonlea is free from Amazon but you have to pay (not much) for the first and best book in the Anne series, Anne of Green Gables. OTOH you can get some titles quite cheaply which can be hard to find in print editions.
what’s available )
vaizeybooks1

I love Mrs Vaizey’s books and have a whole shelf full of them. Some were quite hard to find, so it is slightly galling that I can now download them free. Never mind, I had the thrill of the chase and enjoyed the books years before the Kindle was invented. The first book of hers I read was About Peggy Saville and I loved it immediately for its humour and fun. I moved on to More About Peggy, then Pixie O’Shaughnessy, More About Pixie and, eventually, The Love Affairs of Pixie. These books start with the girls at school and were obviously written for a schoolgirl audience. Mrs Vaizey wrote a number of romances, of which my favourites are probably Big Game and Flaming June. She also wrote about the problems of single young women trying to earn their living. Even the books touching on more serious subjects have their humorous touches.

Mrs George de Horne Vaizey (1856 – 1917) was born in Liverpool. Her first husband, Henry Mansergh, was possibly an alcoholic or drug addict. After his death, Mrs Mansergh began writing to support her family. Her second marriage, to George de Horne Vaizey, seems to have been more successful. You may come across her as ‘Jessie Mansergh’ or ‘Jessie Bell’, her maiden name. Several of her books were serialised in the Girl’s Own Annual and this is where the Kindle scores. My copy of The Lady of the Basement Flat was in one of the annuals and could only be read by picking up a very heavy book and searching for the chapters. I’ve since downloaded it from Project Gutenberg. When she died, the GOA published ‘Some Memories by an Intimate Friend’. The writer described how, fifteen years before her death, Mrs Vaizey had typhoid fever which left her crippled and confined to a wheelchair. This didn’t diminish her zest for life or her interest in clothes, shopping and needlework. She believed that God intended life to be enjoyed and disliked ‘a dowd’. This reminds me of O Douglas, who also wrote that an interest in dress was compatible with living a Christian life. I rate Mrs Vaizey very highly as a writer.

Sources: The Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories by Sue Sims & Hilary Clare
The GOA Vol. 38
Books available online )
katybooks

How I loved What Katy Did when I was a child! I read it so often I must know it by heart. I also read at School and Did Next but it was many years before I found out that Clover and In the High Valley existed. Not so very long ago, people were prepared to pay *lots* of money for these two books; they really were at a premium. Then they were reprinted by Girls Gone By and prices went down. Now, all the Katy books are FREE for the Kindle. Coolidge’s scarcer books are also available free. Last year I read A Little Country Girl for the first time and wrote about it here. I’m currently dipping into Nine Little Goslings, a series of short stories. The first one is about Johnnie Carr. What a feast! You could even splash out £1.98 on eleven books by Coolidge.

Needless to say, in spite of having the Katy books on the Kindle, I’m hanging on to my hard copies. The idea that having a Kindle will reduce the number of books piling up all over the house is a myth.

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