Monday, May 1, 2017

Notes on A Job for Susan

1. A Job for Susan (1969) is the eleventh and last book in the Susan series and the last book Jane Shaw ever published. She did begin a new story, Susan in Trouble, but the manuscript was abandoned after a few tentative pages. In that story, Susan and Midge were to go to the USA.

2. A Job for Susan recycles many elements of past Susan books. Indeed, readers often confuse it with No Trouble for Susan. Both stories are set in Wichwood at Christmas time, with the children helping out a local shopkeeper in difficulty. In both stories, the ghastly Gascoignes are thankfully absent and a new nemesis steps in: Sir Arthur Symes, a.k.a. the Wicked Baronet or Bad Bart.

3. Susan is no longer living with the Carmichaels. Her parents have returned from Africa and have rented a house called Owl Cottage, not far from the Carmichael residence.

4. Tessa Marshall, Susan and Midge’s rather dim but likeable friend from St. Ronan’s features prominently in the story. When Susan hears that Tessa’s grandmother has gone away and that Tessa will have to spend the holidays with her Aunt Rachel, who lives in deepest Devon, she invites her friend to stay with her in Wichwood.

5. At the beginning of the story, Charlotte announces yet another change in her planned career. Her dreams of becoming a nurse, cook and archaeologist having been thwarted in previous stories, in Where is Susan? Charlotte had made up her mind to become an artist. However, she feels after studying the works of the Old Masters that she will never be very good and decides to set her sights on studying the history of at the Courtland Institute. But when she has some success with her paintings in AJFS, she decides to be an artist again.

6. In this book, Tessa and Bill are given more prominent roles. They were hardly even mentioned in the previous two stories (Susan’s Kind Heart and Where is Susan?) but here Bill’s financial problems are the focus of the story. At school, goaded by an unpleasant teacher, Bill rashly promises to donate the massive sum of ten pounds to Oxfam and now has to spend the holidays trying to raise the money.

7. As usual, Charlotte has no shortage of admirers. Much to Susan’s surprise, one of Charlotte’s admirers takes a fancy to Tessa instead! Being a Susan story, nothing comes of this romance.

8. This story features the pompous artist, Tertius Smith, who creates abstracts, such as Mr. Egg.

9. Now that Susan’s mother is back, the role of Aunt Lucy is greatly diminished and she only appears when preparing meals and has apparently lost her enthusiasm for crazy new hobbies that she had early in the series.

10. There are no internal illustrations. The front cover was drawn by Roger Hall, who would become a prominent illustrator of children’s book in the 1970s.

11. There is yet another cryptic dedication at the front of the book:

FOR
Flora Cohen
WHO ALWAYS WATCHES THE DATES

In Susan and Friends, Jane Shaw’s son, Ian Evans, explains that Flora Cohen was the sister of Sylvia Klugmen, who founded the Children’s Book Shop in Johannesburg. The two sisters, Jane Shaw and another shop employee, Norah Hampton, became a “circle of loyal friends”.

12. A Job for Susan was also the title of Chapter 1 of Susan Rushes In.

Quote of the Day

She saw Bill delivering his papers at the almshouses at the foot of Gallery Road. Bill's jaw dropped open when he saw the van driving back, with Joe Taylor apparently very much in command of the situation. His mouth was still open when Susan reached him.
"You got him!" he yelled. "Spot-on!"
Susan stopped. "Well, yes, we got him," she said. "But Bill, it was Mr. Smith the artist--"
"Mr. Smith the artist!" Bill repreated blankly. "Stealing his own stuff at half-past six in the morning? He must be bonkers!"
"Well, we know he is," said Susan. "That egg! But the thing is, Bill, he wasn't stealing it at all--"
"Why in the middle of the night, then?"
"Only time he could get the van, he said--"
"Oh," said Bill. "Is he cross?"
"Not too pleased," said Susan.

From A JOB FOR SUSAN, Chapter 7, Guarding the Masterpieces. For more on "that egg", click here.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Recent Purchases

My copy of SKH was the paperback published by Bettany Press in 2006. It is a good clean edition with illustrations, but it's not the same experience as reading one of the original hardbacks. So, when I came across a mint condition original at a reasonable price, I snapped it up, along with a first edition of Where is Susan? with DJ.

Quote of the Day

As Susan, shaking in every limb, her torch shielded by her hand, crept into the passage leading to the museum, she paused. Oh, horrors! she thought, sniffing, I can smell those foul tumshies! They looked pretty when we popped back the wee lids, but jings, how they smell! At least, she added to herself a little nervously, at least I hope it's the tumshies and not some of our priceless exhibits in the museum!

From SUSAN'S TRYING TERM, Chapter 9, Jack-o'-Lanterns.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Paddy Turns Detective illustration

A scene from Chapter 1 of Paddy Turns Detective, Exit Sir Rupert. PTD was the first of the two Spitfire books by Jean Bell, published in 1967. There were at least 24 books in this series. The books are not aimed at any particular audience and cover themes attractive to both boys and girls, including science fiction, pony riding, mysteries and adventure stories. Other titles include four books by Jane Eliot: Afraid to Ride, Jacky Jumps to the Top Pony Club Camp and First Pony. Strangers in Space by Edwin Johnson, Commando by Adrian Corbett, Duel in the Snow by Angus Cleary and Last out of Burma by Alan Carter were also part of the series. The Spitfire books cost 1/- in the UK and 29 cents in the United States.

Quote of the Day

Elspeth interrrupted, "Ugh, nobody but daft scones like Kenneth bothers about who has the right to wear what tartan. Hundreds of Lowland Scots wear the kilt when they've no more right to wear it than you have. It's just that Kenneth's awful Hielan' sometmes. And it's an awful nice kilt, Penny; it's a real kilt, not just a tartan skirt - they're awful."
Penny thought with a sudden glow of gratitude that Elspeth was the nicest girl she had ever met.

From PENNY FOOLISH, Chapter 7, Penny Wears the Kilt.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Penhallow Mystery illustration

The first illustration from The Penhallow Mystery shows the Forrest family on their way to their new home in Hallow Haven in the north of Cornwall, described as being located "between Bude and Tintagel". Hallow Haven is probably based on Crackington Haven, which had already been used in the Moochers stories. In those books, the village is called Pendragon Haven. You can see a photo of Crackington Haven by clicking here.

Quote of the Day

The Forrest parents came back full of praise for the house. This was just as well, for by this time the family were wild to go. William said that if it couldn't be Greenland's icy mountains or India's corral strand, Cornwall would be better than nothing; Vivian said that she'd always wanted to live by the sea. As for Jane, who practically always had her nose in a book, she knew from her reading that Cornwall was a very romantic and desirable place to live. "Piskies, you know," she said to Vivian, "and mermaid and ogres and dragons and smugglers and things that go bump in the night-"
"What d'you mean?" asked Vivian suspiciously.
"There's a Cornish rhyme about ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night," said Jane in an eerie whisper.
"Now look here," said Vivian. "Just don't start any of your nonsense."

From THE PENHALLOW MYSTERY, Chapter 1, 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Breton Adventure (alternative boards)

Green boards for Breton Adventure with different sports and outdoor equipment, including a bicycle and a tent. My copy has much less equipment.

Quote of the Day

The meadows were decked with flowers, and the fruit trees were in blossom as they left Interlaken. "I knew it," said Sara with satisfaction: "we're not too early for the flowers, although every one at home said May was a silly time to come to Switzerland." Caroline thought that Grindelwald, being higher, would be more backward in the way of flowers; Vanessa, in a dream, ventured no opinion. Sara was jumping about like a cricket, one minute looking out at the flowers, the next gazing fascinated at the peaked cap of the guard who had come to have a look at their tickets, who was very handsome, and who spoke to them, with smiles, in very good English. "Fancy!" she said, after he had gone. "I thought Bob was an English name. I wonder if they all have their names on their caps - and fancy his being Bob!"
Vanessa looked at her vacantly, but Caroline snorted. "His name, you fathead! It's B.O.B., and it stands for Bernese Oberland Bahn."
"How dull!" said Sara, disappointed. "But you needn't be so snooty - I'd know just as much as you if I had that book."

From BERNESE HOLIDAY, Chapter 8, Switzerland at Last. This is one of the passages that were removed from the later edition.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bernese Holiday Frontispiece

Frontispiece from Bernese Holiday, depicting a scene in Chapter 16 when the girls recover the diamonds while fleeing from Slippery Sam and Nasty Nellie. Like the frontis for Breton Holiday, this one was drawn by A. H. Watson. However, the artist did not read the text very carefully. We see here Sara and Vanessa holding the Phllimore diamond necklace, but the text clearly states that when they find the jewels, they are loose. In fact, Sara makes a big deal of this at the beginning of Chapter 17. Furthermore, here we see the girls standing outside admiring the necklace. They actually examined the book in which the diamonds were hidden in the privacy of a bedroom at the hotel.

Quote of the Day

"What d'you want to drink, Sara?" asked John, giving his order to Madame, who had popped up again as the patronne of the café.
"Beer," said Sara. "I need it."
"You can't drink beer," said Vanessa in a rather scandalized voice.
Sara wanted to know why not, and Vanessa said she didn't know quite, but it wasn't the thing at all, and John said she was far too young, and Caroline said Sara wouldn't like it anyway because she shouldn't wonder it had an absolutely foul taste.
"Well, can I have some to try?" insisted Sara, showing alarming eagerness to become a toper.
"Yes," said John, "but if you don't like it I'm not ordering anything else."
"I'll have cider," said Sara....

From BERNESE HOLIDAY, Chapter 3, En Route. This passage was edited down for the reissue in 1953, with all references to beer removed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Breton and Bernese Holiday

On the left, the boards for Breton Holiday and on the right Bernese Holiday.

Contents of Bernese Holiday


Bernese Holiday and Bernese Adventure



Many people have on their bookshelves a copy of Breton Adventure and Bernese Adventure, published in 1953. These were reissues of Breton Holiday and Bernese Holiday, published in 1939 and 1940, respectively. The books gained a little extra publicity with the publication of a Sara and Caroline short story, Sara’s Adventure, in the 1953 Collins’ Girls’ Annual. In Susan and Friends, it is stated that both reissues were abridged versions of the original stories. Unlike the Adventures, which are very easy to find and very cheap, the originals are much thinner on the ground. It took me years of patient searching to find the originals. When I finally got hold of Breton Holiday, I compared it with the later edition and was disappointed to find that the only abridging that had been done was the removal of the dedication to Jane Shaw’s parents (To M.W.P. and J.P.). Breton Holiday begins on Page 9, as does the Adventure. However, in the 1953 edition, there are only two sheets of paper before Chapter 1, and it was obvious that the same plates were used for the reissue, without even bothering to correct the pagination. Bernese Holiday was a different state of affairs. Many changes were made to turn it into an Adventure. Last year, during a regular search on ebay, I was delighted to find a copy of this elusive book. At £40, it was approximately ten times the price of the reissue.

The first thing you notice when thumbing through Bernese Holiday is that it is much longer. The story begins on Page 9 and finishes on Page 252, with every chapter beginning on a fresh page. The Adventure begins on Page 9 and ends on Page 188, with new chapters sometimes beginning on a fresh page and sometimes beginning on the same page where the previous chapter ends. The next thing you notice is that Bernese Holiday has more chapters, and that the chapters have titles. In the Adventure, the book has a prologue, sixteen chapters (untitled) and an epilogue. The Holiday has a prologue, seventeen chapters (titled) and an epilogue. Another point to note is that the Adventure retains the dedication (To R.C.F.E – Robert Caldow Fleming Evans, Jane Shaw’s husband).

Now to the differences between the two editions. As for the number of chapters, there is no “missing” chapter as such. Chapters 11 and 12 are joined together for the Adventure, with some pages removed from Chapter 11 and a couple of lines from the beginning of Chapter 12. Chapter 11 of Bernese Adventure is very long (20 pages). In Bernese Holiday, its content is spread over Chapter 11 (Snow in Summer) and Chapter 12 (Sara the Renegade). The redacted pages are the last seven pages of Chapter 11 (from the bottom of Page 145 to Page 152). Sara gets out of bed and discovers that it has been snowing during the night. She wakens Caroline and they go down to breakfast “huddled as close to the dining-room stove as possible”. Vanessa and Caroline decide to write postcards. The next paragraph begins Two days later, the snow had gone, the sun came out again and the flowers reappeared. In Bernese Holiday, Caroline looks up from her postcards to find Sara gone. She goes out to look for her and finds her attempting to ski, doing considerable damage to John’s boots and trousers, which she has borrowed, in the process. Chapter 12 (Sara the Renegade) begins Two days later, the snow had gone, and so had John’s wrath, and all that was left to remind Sara of her skill on skis was stiff limbs and what she called the most awful bruises; but, in compensation, the sun came out again and the flowers reappeared... 

A few paragraphs are also removed from Chapter 8 (Switzerland at Last). On Page 83 of Bernese Adventure, a paragraph was removed from between the paragraphs that begin “I dunno,” said Caroline, then, overhearing, she added carelessly… and The meadows were decked with flowers… The redacted paragraph begins with At Interlaken, Vanessa fussily bundled them, and their baggage out of the train. This is on Page 106 of Bernese Holiday. A little farther down on the same page of Bernese Adventure, there is a paragraph that ends with the words the peaked cap of the guard who had come forward to look at their tickets. In Bernese Holiday (Page 107), this sentence continues: to look at their tickets, who was very handsome, and who spoke to them, with smiles, in very good English. Seventeen lines were removed, in which Sara and Caroline discuss the ticket collector’s cap and the scenery. The reason for this editing appears to be that it saves a whole page of paper (which was strictly rationed in the years following World War II). Chapter 8 finishes quite neatly almost at the bottom of Page 86, allowing Chapter 9 to begin on Page 87, a right-hand page. Another reason may be that there were changes in the Swiss railways. The redacted parts discuss the train routes and the guard’s uniform. Perhaps the routes had changed after 13 years and the guards no longer wore peaked caps.


One other change I noticed was in Chapter 3 (En route). In the original story, after the harrowing experience of buying petrol in Belgium, which involved a complicated calculation to change gallons into litres and English money into French francs and Belgian francs, the group retire to the café. When John asks Sara what she wants to drink, she claims that she “needs” a beer. Vanessa is shocked. Sara then shows “alarming eagerness to become a toper” (i.e., habitual drunkard). John actually offers to buy her a beer but tells her that if she doesn’t like it he won’t buy her anything else. Sara then asks for a cider. In the reissue, unsurprisingly, this passage is omitted, with Sara simply ordering a cider, with no reference to beer.

Quote of the Day

At this moment she had her back to Caroline and seemed to be trying to mount the slope, but, as each time she took a step she slid down again, she was not making a great deal of progress. Then something seemed to dawn on her, and she changed her tactics, and spreading out her skis sideways she began again. She took three successful steps, then unfortunately got her right ski crossed over her left one. She tugged at her left foot, but nothing happened; she tugged again, panting, with the same gratifying result. "Somebody's holding on to my ski," she muttered, and craned over her well-padded shoulder to see who it was. But this was too much for her precarious balance - it deserted her completely, and she pitched forward into the snow.

From BERNESE HOLIDAY, Chapter 11, Snow in Summer.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Penhallow Mystery


The Penhallow Mystery (back cover)


Paddy Turns Detective (back cover)


Paddy Turns Detective


The Jean Bell Spitfire Books

It has been a while since I last posted anything on the blog, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been making progress with Jane Shaw. In the last year, I have acquired both of the books published under the pen name of Jean Bell. They are tiny little books, aimed at a slightly younger audience than most of Jane Shaw's stories, maybe the same age group as the Thomas  books. Both stories were published in 1967 as part of the Spitfire series, with Collins going mass market and moving into paperback publishing. The two stories are mysteries. Paddy Turns Detective is set in a village in Kent. Penhallow Mystery, as the name suggests, is set in Cornwall. PTD is written in the first person, by Patricia (Paddy). PM is written in the third person. A third book. A Girl with Ideas, was written for the series, but was only published many years later in Susan and Friends. The photograph below, with both books alongside a regular Collins hardback, shows how tiny the little paperback volumes were. At only 1/-, the Spitfire books were also more affordable.




Quote of the Day

"He sat," said Vivian.
"Did he?" said Jane, amazed.
Siggy's one parlour trick was a very simple one. When he was expecting his dinner or a sweet or a biscuit he sat, gazing up meltingly and beseechingly with his toffee-ball eyes.
"Mm," said Vivian. "he did. I thought it was a bit odd---"
"I should jolly well think it was!" Jane agreed enthusiastically. "He never does that unless he's expecting a titbit! How jolly queer!"

From THE PENHALLOW MYSTERY, Chapter 4. 

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)