Monday, April 11, 2016

Post 1000: A Job for Susan


Quote of the Day

"Yes, well, I don't think the directors of the bank or Mr. Abercorn or anybody would single out Tessa and me. Bill, run down to your house and see if there aren't any more letters-"
There were: one for Midge and one for Bill. Bill brought them back, panting, and they sat round the fire and gazed happily at their cheques.
"Six pounds fifteen and five pounds," said Bill. "Now I've got eleven pounds fifteen! Great!"
"Well I don't know," said Midge cynically. "Look at Bill, he slaved away at scrubbing and baby-sitting and cutting holly and paper rounds and what did he make? Feathers. And just by pure luck, he gets money from Charlotte and money from a rare penny and money from the bank. That sort of thing," she said happily, "puts you off work."

From A JOB FOR SUSAN, Chapter 16, Money, Money, Money. The last words of Jane Shaw's last book, published in 1969.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Exile for Jill

Illustration from Chapter 3 of Penny Foolish, Exile for Jill. Penny's little sister escapes from the clutches of the conniving Miss Cook and her accomplice.

Quote of the Day

She was destined for a rude awakening. As soon as Mrs Fergus and she reached Blackwaterfoot to catch the Machrie bus, the news burst upon them. There had been a hold-up at the post-office! A masked man had burst in upon the post-mistress and stolen the mail at the point of a gun. It had happened just as the post-mistress was sealing the mail-bags to send them off in the two o'clock bus to Brodick. The post-mistress had fainted dead away on the floor, and if a visitor hadn't happened to come in, she would have been on the floor yet.

From PENNY FOOLISH, Chapter 10, The Post-Office Raid.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Crooked Sixpence

Quote of the Day

Their faces were scrubbed to a shining cleanliness, their hair was plastered down with water. None of their clothes quite fitted them - you could see the faint outline of its former owner behind each clean but well-worn and patched garment, Penny thought, and she suddenly found them almost unbearably pathetic. At the moment, however, her sympathy was misplaced, for they were all beaming so broadly that they looked as if their cheeks would burst. 

From CROOKED SIXPENCE, Chapter 1, Tudor Boy.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Penny in St Brieuc

In Chapter 4 of Twopence Coloured, Penny goes into a daydream and is separated from her family. She has to find the mysterious michelin to try and catch up with them. However, her French is not quite up to scratch and she has a little communication breakdown. She manages in the end though.

Notes on Twopence Coloured

This week, I started rereading Twopence Coloured, the second book in the Penny series. Some notes:

1. This is Jane Shaw's third book set in Binic. As in the other stories set in the Breton seaside resort, the town is not given its proper name. In Twopence Coloured, it is called Kerdic. The name is explained as meaning the House on the Ic. However, the real name is given in the dedication, "For KATHERINE, remembering Binic". The name Binic means Head of the Ic.

2. In the other three books, the protagonists stay in a chateau. In this book, Penny and her family are guests at the Hôtel de la Plage.

3. It is in this story that Penny and Jill become friends with Laura and John Mallory, who will feature in all the subsequent books (Threepenny Bit, Fourpenny Fair, Fivepenny Mystery and Crooked Sixpence).

4. The book is available in three editions: the original Nelson edition with colour frontispiece; the Brittanic Series with colour frontispiece; and the Triumph, with the same frontispiece but in black and white.

5. All three editions are lavishly illustrated. In addition to the frontis, there are seven illustrations.

Quote of the Day

The bus took them very quickly and dangerously to the middle of Dinard. Then a taxi unnecessarily took them the hundred yards to a rather sordid café where, they were assured, the bus which was to take them the next stage of their journey would certainly start. Nobody could believe it, as anything less like a bus terminus could hardly be imagined.

From TWOPENCE COLOURED, Chapter 4, They Part.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Quote of the Day

By this time she had guided Ricky along the Rue de Berri, into a doorway and down some stairs into a restaurant. It was big, much bigger than the other little place where they had dined the evening before; there were crowds of people and waiters dashing about, but the school tour had settled themselves nicely at some tables in a little gallery slightly raised from the main part of the restaurant and there were two places being kept for Ricky and Julie at a table with Fay and Ruth and Barbara.

From CROOKS TOUR, Chapter 8, The Crook and the Pearls. An example of Jane Shaw's gift for writing extended sentences, with 53 words in the last sentence.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Northmead Nuisance illustration

An illustration from A Plan Gone Wrong, Chapter 7 of Northmead Nuisance. Kay hides in a trunk in the Box Room to avoid detection by Miss Ratcliffe. But so many people suddenly have to visit the room and she ends up getting caught - and punished with two hundred lines.

Notes on Northmead Nuisance

This week I'm rereading New House at Northmead and I’ve noticed some parallels between this book and earlier Jane Shaw stories. The author was known for reusing locations (four stories set in Binic, four on Arran, three in South Africa, etc.), but less has been written about her reusing plot devices. Here are some examples:

1. In Susan’s Helping Hand, most of the story is set on Cousin Barbara’s farm. One day, the characters build a bonfire and roast potatoes. In Northmead Nuisance, the characters pay some visits to Aunt Abbie's farm where they also build a bonfire and roast potatoes in it. However, the part about the potatoes is told very briefly, while in SHH, this scene is described in great detail.

2. In Susan’s Helping Hand, the Mad Collector is stealing valuables from wealthy people. In Northmead Nuisance, Aunt Abbie’s community is also suffering from a string of thefts. This time, someone is raiding the poultry farms in the district and helping themselves to chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks.

3. In Susan Pulls the Strings, Susan falls into a freezing duck pond and ends up in bed for several days with flu. In Northmead Nuisance, Judy falls into the pond at Aunt Abbie’s farm. However, she is immediately bundled off to a hot bath and does not even catch a cold.

4. In the Susan books, the not-very-bright Susan has problems with big words and mispronounces them (fizzy-fist instead of physicist, jelly night instead of gelignite, etc.). This joke is rehashed in Chapter 6 of Northmead Nuisance. Lynette is testy during a nocturnal excursion and says “I don’t care if she’s blowing up the school with sticks of jelly-night.”

Quote of the Day

All went well, if somewhat damply, until Judy fell into the old quarry, which they had approached from an unfamiliar direction but which everybody had noticed in time except poor Judy, who was, according to Kay, crashing through the undergrowth like a tank except that even tanks looked where they were going and Judy didn't.
Anyway, it was most alarming; one minute Judy was there and the next she was nothing but a splintering crash and a faint cry in the distance. Everybody immediately flung themselves on their stomachs and peered anxiously over the edge; there was nothing to be seen except a lot of wet bushes.
At last the Sparrow called out helpfully, "Hadn't we better go down and - er - pick up the pieces?"
"Goodness," said Nicky, "you don't think she's in pieces, do you? Judy!" she called anxiously. "JUDY! Where are you-ou-ou?"
"Well, I'm here," came a faint call.
"At least she's alive," said the Sparrow cheerfully.
"Of course she's alive," Kay said crossly. "Judy," she called, "where's here?"
"In a bush," Judy called back.
"Are you all right?"
There was a silence, then Judy called, "Well, sort of!"
"Why only sort of? What's the matter?"
"I'm upside down!"
"Oh, help." Nicky gave a small giggle. "That girl! Trust Judy! Anyone else would have landed the right way up!"

From NORTHMEAD NUISANCE, Chapter 9, Half-Term.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Quote of the Day

"We could just go round and have little wee keek..." Susan suggested cajolingly.
No, they couldn't, said Midge firmly. What kind of a little wee keek would they get in the pitch dark? Susan's mother came in jut then,with the suggestion that the girls might start making themselves useful, setting the table for supper and so on... And then Susan's father came home from his office. Much to Tessa's relief it was a nice, cosy, peaceful evening after all, with no more worrying talk about Bluebeard's Chamber. Thank goodness, she thought, Susan has forgotten all about it...
She should have known Susan better.

From A JOB FOR SUSAN, Chapter 3, Encounter with an Ogre.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Petit Chose

I have often wondered why Madame's chateau in Breton Holiday is called Petit Chose. In French, the word chose is feminine, so the adjective should be petite rather than petit. Surely Jane Shaw, the perfectionist, would not make a mistake like that. Nor would Collins' highly trained proofreaders have let it go unquestioned. But over the years, having studied many Latin-based languages, I've learned that languages have many nuances. In Portuguese, for example, there are words that are both masculine and feminine but with different meanings for each gender. Let's take the word cara.

um cara = a guy, man
uma cara = a face

Could it be that the word chose in French has a masculine form or meaning that most foreign students are unaware of? I set out to discover, with a Google search for "le petit chose". The answer appeared at once. Le Petit Chose is the title of the autobiography of French author Alphonse Daudet, written in 1868, covering the early years of his life. Petit Chose was his nickname. When the book was translated into English, it was given the title Little Good-for-Nothing (1878 edition) and Little What's-His-Name (1898 edition). The book made quite an impact on French culture. Many years later, in 1938, it was made into a movie, just at the time when Jane Shaw was writing Breton Holiday. As far as I know, there is no way of telling whether it was the book or the movie that inspired the author to name the chateau Petit Chose, but the mystery of the masculine adjective for a feminine word has now been cleared up.

Quote of the Day

The rain came that night in good earnest, and the wind howled round Petit Chose; windows rattled and doors banged, and Sara woke up in the middle of the night to find herself lying in a pool of water. Her efforts to shut the window roused Caroline.
"What are you doing?" she demanded.
"Trying to shut this beastly window," Sara panted.
"Well, don't, or we'll suffocate."
"I'd rather suffocate than drown," Sara told her. "My bed's soaking."

From BRETON HOLIDAY, Chapter 12, Sara Does Some Rescue Work.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Moochers Abroad

Quote of the Day

Amanda could stand it no longer. Before Elizabeth could stop her, she put her mouth up to the shutter and said in a low but firm and penetrating voice, "Miss Potts!"
There was a deathly silence within the room. Outside, Amanda stood tense, and Elizabeth began cautously to edge towards the boat - if they were going to run for it, she felt, she preferred a head start.
"Miss Potts," said Amanda again,"can you speak to me? It's me, Amanda-"
To their astonishment, the shutter was unbolted and pushed open and a small anxious face with glasses, surmounted by rather wispy grey hair, appeared.

From AMANDA'S SPIES, Jane Shaw's first published short story from 1941.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Breton Adventure (colour frontispiece)

Although I knew about the two frontispieces for Bernese Adventure, I did not know until last week that an edition of Breton Adventure had a colour frontis. The scene depicted is from Chapter 14, Capture of a Car Thief and shows The Man of Mystery exiting a chemist's shop and being accused of stealing Madame's car, while a small crowd of passers-by and a policeman look on. However, Sara, as usual, has got it wrong and The Man of Mystery was actually driving his own car. Once again, The Man of Mystery forgives Sara for being mean to him. Thanks to Elizabeth Lindsay for providing the scan. 

Quote of the Day

They slipped out by the side door and made their way with considerable difficulty to the Sparrow's hut, knocking into trees, stumbling over roots and getting entangled generally in the undergrowth. But when they unlocked the door of the hut and saw the costumes lying in bright heaps on the Sparrow's rather dusty benches, all their difficulties and even their large accumulation of lines and punishments were forgotten. They slapped each other on the back triumphantly and then began to gather up the costumes.
"We'll take them straight up to Big School now and give everybody a surprise," gloated Kay.
"Surprise" was putting it mildly.

From NORTHMEAD NUISANCE, Chapter 8, A Spoke in Gail's Wheel.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Breton Holiday (frontispiece)

This is the first ever illustration for a Jane Shaw book, the frontispiece for Breton holiday, drawn by A. H. Watson in 1939. 

Abridgement of Breton Holiday and Bernese Holiday

Whenever I have read about Breton Adventure and Bernese Adventure, they are always described as "slightly abridged" versions of the original Holiday books. In Susan and Friends, detailed descriptions are given of two scenes that were edited or deleted prior to the publication of Bernese Adventure, both from Chapter 11. On Page 105, it says that when Caroline and Sara were on the train to Interlaken, "the nice blue-eyed guard came and passed the time of day with them; and when they reached Interlaken, Sara went quite wild over the shops". In Bernese Holiday, the train journey scene is longer, with Sara thinking that the guard's name is Bob because he has the letters BOB emblazoned on his cap. Caroline explains that the letters actually stand for Bernese Oberland Bahn. The other deleted scene takes place the next morning, when Sara awakes early and is delighted to find that it is snowing. After breakfast, Caroline and Vanessa decide to take advantage of the cold snap to write some post cards. The next paragraph begins: "Two days later, the snow had gone, the sun came out again and the flowers reappeared..." However, in Bernese Holiday, while the others are writing their post cards, Sara borrows the hotel owner's skis and has a go at skiing. Caroline eventually has to come out and dig her out of a snow drift. One of the members of the Jane Shaw Facebook group, who has a copy of Bernese Holiday, also recalls what she refers to as some "curtailed dialogue" but could not be more specific as she had conducted her comparison some time ago. I recently purchased a copy of Breton Holiday and looked forward to comparing it with the reissued version. However, as far as I can tell, there was no abridging of the story at all. The above photograph shows the contents page of Breton Holiday on the left and the Adventure on the right. They are identical. So, although the original book is much thicker, there are no extra scenes. The only differences are that the dedication to Jane Shaw's parents is omitted from the Adventure and that the Holiday has a black and white frontispiece drawn by Alice Helena Watson. My copy of Breton Adventure has no frontispiece, although I've been told that some editions of the book did have one. Bernese Adventure has had two frontispieces, one colour and one black and white, which you can see by clicking here and here.

Quote of the Day

That evening Mrs Eliot had a brain-wave. She discussed it with Dr Eliot, and as soon as the family were all off to school she took the two little figures which had been with the box of junk out of the china cabinet, and wrapping them up in cotton-wool and tissue paper she took them into town, to a little antique shop into whose windows she had often gazed. She came out without them, beaming, and then she went home and telephoned Mrs. Rivett. ... And then she could hardly wait for the children to come home from school and for Dr Eliot to come home from his patients, but when they all did she dropped her bombshell.

From VENTURE TO SOUTH AFRICA, Chapter 14, Jennifer Changes Her Mind.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crew of the Belinda (cover and spine)


Quote of the Day

"You can go round by the main road," said Mrs. Pengelly, "but it's a nice walk down the side of the Haven and over the cliff. I've got a basket with a lid that you can put wee Thomas in, and he'll be no trouble to you."
"Oh, is Thomas going?" asked Fiona regretfully, "I'll miss him."
"He's going to a good home," said Mrs. Pengelly, "and the Sandercock children are mad to have him."
She gave the girls full directions for finding the house, and put Thomas into his basket. Thomas took a poor view of his imprisonment and objected piteously.

From THE MOOCHERS ABROAD, Chapter 4, Curiouser and Curiouser.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Photos of Arran

On the ferry approaching Arran.

East coast of Arran.

Cir Mhor from Broddick Bay.

The bus stop at Blackwaterfoot.

The bridge at Blackwaterfoot.

View of the Goatfell.

The String Road. Like Penny and her father, I also smelled the peat when we reached the top. However, the bus was going too fast for me to glimpse the view of the sea on both sides of the island at the same time.

Views of Arran from Troon Beach

These photos were taken at the end of April this year, but the mountains were still snow-capped. Cir Mhor (pronounced Keer Vor) features in Penny Foolish, when Penny goes for a climb with Kenneth and Especth. The Goatfell does not feature in Jane Shaw's stories, but when she and her husband retired to Arran in 1978, they had their house built so that the front afforded them an excellent view of the Goatfell.

The little isle of Ailsa Craig, just to the south of Arran.

Another view of the snow-capped peaks.

Quote of the Day

The worst was nothing like what they expected. They were lying by themselves sun-bathing at the grève the next afternoon, when a young man, slight, but with a body which seemed to be entirely composed of springs, came bounding down the path with a dog at his heels. Coming over to the girls, he grinned till his eyes crinkled up and disappeared, shook hands, and announced himself as Raymond.

From BRETON HOLIDAY, Chapter 2, They Meet Artichokes, Ajax - and Raymond.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Breton Holiday Dedication

Breton Holiday contains the first of the cryptic dedications that permeated Jane Shaw's books throughout her career. Her first dedication, quite appropriately, is to her parents. M.W.P. is her mother, Margaret Wilson Patrick. J.P. is her father, John Patrick. This dedication was not included in the reissued version of the story, Breton Adventure in 1953, probably because the price of paper had soared in the early 1950s and because paper was still rationed in those post-War days.

Breton Holiday (Blue Boards)

Breton Holiday

This week, my copy of Breton Holiday arrived from Peakirk Books. It is much fatter than the later Breton Adventure. Published in 1939, it has very thick paper that has yellowed far less than my copy of Breton Adventure, which was published 14 years later. Quite a treasure.

Jane Shaw Pilgrimage 2015: Park School

After leaving Newton Place, where Jane Shaw's house is located, you turn right up Elderslie Street until you come to Clairmont Gardens.

After climbing these steps, walk along.

Lynedoch Street, where Park School is located.

25 Lynedoch Street. The words Park School remain on the gate, but the school itself closed long ago and was converted into flats.

Close-up view. Jane Shaw  studied here from 1919 to 1928. After school she went to Glasgow University to study English Literature and Language.

View from the school. Lynedoch Crescent is just across the street.

View of Lynedoch Street to the left when exiting the school.

View to the right, "down the hill", where Ricky, Julie and Fay walked in Crooks Limited.

Full view of Park School.

View from "down the hill".

Woodlands Road, where the girls debated waiting for the bus or walking to the next stop.

Crew of the Belinda (New Challenge Library)

Crew of the Belinda (boards)

Interesting lilac boards of my 1947 edition of The Crew of the Belinda.

Quote of the Day

Fanny opened the door which looked on to the Loch. "What about burglars?" she quavered.
Lilias laughed bitterly. "You seem to forget the state of our finances," she said.
"Yes, but do the burglars know about that?" said Fanny.

From THE CREW OF THE BELINDA, Chapter 6, More Miracles.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Susan Muddles Through (1st edition spine)

The illustration used on the spine of the first edition of Susan Muddles Through is different from the one used in the Seagull Library edition, although it depicts the same scene. In Chapter 6, Investigating Cap'n Dan, Susan decides that the old sailor is involved in what she calls "shady activities" and, in Chapter 7, Gossip, Susan and Bill pry open the box of lobsters that Cap´n Dan leaves by the side of the road to be picked up and shipped to London. They are sure that the old skinflint is smuggling diamonds. To their chagrin and disappointment, however, the crate does not contain diamonds. Furthermore, Susan is not expecting the lobsters to be alive, and some of them escape and run onto the road. Susan and Bill have to get them back in and get the crate sealed up again before the arrival of the bus. Once again, one of Susan's hare-brained schemes has gone awry, much to the frustration of Midge and Bill, who have allowed themselves to be suckered into yet another one of her mad escapades.

Quote of the Day

It was certainly dark enough. The autumn mists had crept back again and there did not seem to be even a star in the sky. Susan and Midge went cautiously through the field in front of the house, and as Susan said, she wouldn't have thought it possible that there should be so many thistles growing in one field.
"I didn't think that there were so many thistles in the world," said Midge. "And I've stood on them all. My legs are all scratched and bleeding. It'll be a wonder if I don't bleed to death."

From SUSAN MUDDLES THROUGH, Chapter 9, Suspect Number Two.

Susan Muddles Through Colour Frontispiece

For several months I had my eye on a first edition of Susan Muddles Through that was on sale at Peakirk Books. The attraction lay in this colour frontispiece, depicting a scene from Chapter 9, Suspect Number Two. Susan and Midge, on a nocturnal excursion, are terrified of a "headless monster, pale, misty-white and wavering in the glow of Susan's torch,with dim eyes that squinted horribly from a formless face". In the end I couldn't resist and am now the proud owner of this book.

Jane Shaw Pilgrimage 2015: Newton Place

On 20th April, 2015, I was in Scotland and made a few visits to important locations in Jane Shaw's life and stories. Just off Sauchiehall Street is Newton Place, where Jane Shaw lived during her entire childhood.

The Patrick family lived at Number 9, about half way along the very short street. Today the house is called Technology House.

View of the house from across the street.

View of the whole house.

Close-up of number and Technology House name plate. Strange that there is nothing to commemorate Jane Shaw here at all. Just another forgotten author. Sad.

Nice view of the front door.

Looking back at the end of the street.

Leaving Newton Place. Jane Shaw would walk out this end of the street on school days on her way to Park School, which is only about ten minutes' walk.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Quote of the Day

Gabrielle was so taken aback that for a second she just stood there while Susan rained blows on her head; she then recovered, seized the first thing that came to her hand - which happened to be a jugsaw puzzle with which one of the Removes proposed to amuse herself after supper - and hit Susan over the head with that. As the pieces fell round Susan like a miniature snow-storm, she reeled a bit, then went into the attack again and kept on banging Gabrielle over the head with Gail's book, which made the most satisfactory and resounding thuds. Gabrielle, retreating, put up her arms to cover her head, but Susan was still getting in some shrewd blows, amid yells of encouragement from the Removes who hadn't seen such a fight since they had left the kindergarten - when suddenly the door was flung open and a prefect called Avril Barrett strode into the room.

From SUSAN'S TRYING TERM, Chapter 6, More Trouble.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jane Shaw Postcard

Last year my friend Jan Johnson sent me this postcard that she picked up at a book sale in Crail. The postcard was issued to promote the publication of Susan and Friends: the Jane Shaw Companion in 2002. The following information is given on the back of the card:

Jane Shaw and Alison Lindsay, 1994 (photo: Ernest Marchand)
Susan and Friends: the Jane Shaw Companion (2002), edited by Alison Lindsay, is published by Bettany Press, price 
£14.99 including UK postage).

Jumble Sale

An illustration from Jane Shaw's last published short story, Jumble Sale (1963).

Monkton Combe near Bath

This is the countryside between Bath and Monkton Combe, which served as the setting for three of the Penny books (Threepenny Bit, Fourpenny Fair and Crooked Sixpence). In Twopence Coloured, Penny and Jill become friends with Laura and John Mallory during their trip to France. The Mallory siblings invite the girls to visit them in Monkton Combe (in the book the village is called Friars Combe). The Carter sisters become regular visitors to the area. The village is used once again in the novella by "Jean Bell", A Girl with Ideas, penned after the Penny series had been laid to rest. In that story, the village is given the name of Thornton Combe.