Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Job for Susan (Bettany Press edition)

Now available from amazon.co.uk for the Kindle.

Susan & Friends (back cover)

There are still copies available from the Bettany Press website. This book is an invaluable guide to the works and life of Jane Shaw. I couldn't have got this far without it.

Quote of the Day

"Oh, hallo, Caro darling!" Sara called. "Fancy, I haven't got scarlet fever at all-"
"No!" Caroline mocked her.
"No, it's nettle-rash. Vanessa says it's hay fever, but I know about that, and I think she means nettle-rash; she had it once just after she was married."
"I expect it's from eating all those sausages," said Caroline severely.
"Gosh, I only had about two! Or maybe three," said Sara, "and sausages never gave me anything before."
"I don't suppose you ever ate so many at one sitting before," Caroline suggested.

From BERNESE ADVENTURE, Chapter 4.

Ad for Penny Foolish from Twopence Coloured

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ad for Twopence Coloured

Ad for Twopence Coloured from the inside back cover of Threepenny Bit.

Threepenny Bit (blurb)

Threepenny Bit board

Magic Ships illustration

An nice illustration from Part 3 of Magic Ships, when Robin and Jane are transported by the magic sailor doll to Sir Francis Drake's ship, The Golden Hind.

Quote of the Day

""I'll be ready in two minutes," Fiona called back. "Could you come up and help me with the trunk?" She hugged her mother round the waist. "I think it's a bit late to change our minds now, Mummy, don't you? Daddy would have a fit. I can't honestly say I'm burning to go to Pendragon, as you know - I'd a million times rather be going back to Percie. But it won't be so bad going with Katherine."
"Why your late headmaster had to choose this of all times to give up his school," Fiona's mother said for at least the thousandth time, "I'll never understand-"
"Well, I suppose bankruptcy is a fairly good reason," Fiona murmured.
"How he could be bankrupt, with the fees he charged! But still, it was amazingly lucky that a school like Pendragon could take both of you, even if the headmistress was at school with Aunt Margaret," her mother went on, also for the thousandth time.
"Yes, Mummy," said Fiona dutifully.

From THE MOOCHERS, Chapter 1, Fiona Takes a Chance.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wichwood (Bettany Press link to Amazon)

A great link for all fans of the Susan books at http://www.ju90.co.uk/dulwich.htm, a map of Wichwood Village (Dulwich) by Elspeth Insch. If you  want to buy the last Susan book, A Job For Susan, from Amazon, click here.

Where is Susan? (Bettany Press edition)

Now available for the Kindle on amazon.co.uk.

Susan and the Home-Made Bomb (illustration)

This illustration shows Jennifer, friend of the Carmichaels, discovering an Italian Primitive under a ghastly painting by old Ludovic Harding. She will now be able to study at the Sloane School of Art without having to accept the condescending charity of the Gascoignes. Susan and the Home-made Bomb is classic Jane Shaw, with the gang's friend being bailed out by a really lucky and valuable find.

Quote of the Day

"I must be going potty," she thought: "I thought I heard bagpipes-" Penny knew the sound of bagpipes quite well, because she had been in Scotland the summer before and had heard them often. They always started with that awful droning wail, but they grew nicer later on. She rose to her knees and looked round. The man on the lorry had got into his stride and the noise of the bagpipes became nicer; it also became louder, and the grey horse apparently was not so used to bagpipes as Penny - he threw up his head with a whinny and went of in a slow canter.

From TWOPENCE COLOURED, Chapter 9, Penny Leads the Procession.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

I first met James Forrest in a train travelling from Milan to Varenna on Lake Como. It was not at all a romantic meeting, for my suitcase had just descended on his head, knocking him half senseless. But he struggled up, all brave, and started trying to get it back on the rack again, which was definitely a waste of effort as I was getting off at Varenna, the next station. Anyway, I needn't have worried, for almost immediately it fell down again, dealing him another telling blow on the side of his dark red dishevelled head. I discovered afterwards of course that this dishevelled look was not so much the suitcase as his normal appearance although the bump that was rapidly rising on his forehead was definitely the suitcase.

From THE MAN AT THE VILLA CARLOTTA, Chapter 1. This was an unfinished manuscript of Jane Shaw's. It comes to a sudden halt in Chapter 2. As we can see from this opening paragraph, it features Jane Shaw's unique sense of humour. The unfinished manuscript can be read at work is available at http://www.ju90.co.uk/villa.htm.

SKH (Bettany Press 2)

Now the front cover of the Bettany Press edition of Susan's Kind Heart. Sadly, they did not use the original cover as they did with the other two books they published, but instead opted for one of the internal illustrations. The 3 books published by Bettany are now available for the Amazon Kindle, carrying Jane Shaw into the 2010s, just short of her 101st birthday! 

Susan's Kind Heart (Bettany Press)

Of the eleven Susan books, the only one I couldn't find second-hand was Susan's Kind Heart, the ninth in the series.  Fortunately, the Bettany Press edition was available from Badger Books. It's a faithful reproduction of the text, but doesn't have the same feel. However, I am thankful that I could get it. The back cover has features that are not familiar to other Jane Shaw books, a bar code and the price in "new" pounds! But the paperback cover is in the same nostalgic tone of green as many of Jane Shaw's original publications. However, there is a little mistake in the blurb, which states that the town of Kerdic will be familiar to Jane Shaw's readers. Actually, the town's real name is Binic. It was given the name Kerdic in the second Penny book, Twopence Coloured. In Breton Adventure and The Moochers Abroad it is called St. Brioc. And in Susan's Kind Heart it is referred to as St. Clos.

Quote of the Day

Marietjie (whose name was pronounced Mareeky) was in the charming little bow-windowed shop with her mother, Piet having gone to do some shopping. Penny and the Mallorys told them about the Talents Contest and the Fourpenny Fund - at least the Mallorys told them, Penny shuffled her feet and felt uncomfortable, as she always did now whenever these sickening talents were mentioned.

From FOURPENNY FAIR, Chapter 2, Fund-raising Activities.

Toll Booth

The toll booth on College Road (Tollgate Road) in Dulwich (Wichwood) near the Carmichaels' house. More images of the area where Susan and the gang lived can be viewed at http://citytransport.info/Fee.htm 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Looking After Thomas (blurb)

Magic Ships (back cover)

Magic Ships ads

Ads for the Caroline and Sara books in Magic Ships (1943).

Magic Ships 1943 blurb

Magic Ships (Red Boards)

Bernese Adventure (blurb)

The Crew of the Belinda (blurb)

Northmead illustration

In a bit of a Northmead mood today, so here's an illustration from New House. Both Northmead books were illustrated by Robert Hodgson, although they have very different styles. Northmead Nuisance has better drawings than its predecessor. This picture is of Nicky and Kay working on the plans for their ill-advised insurance scheme. When I first glanced through the book, I thought that this was a picture of two middle-aged teachers rather than two fourteen-year-olds. But there you have it.

Quote of the Day

"There used to be these three Houses, you see," said Nicky, "called after famous founders or headmistresses or people like that; there was Robertson's - known as Bobby's, of course, and the girls are Bobs; Clarke's, which is called Nobby's, because, although you may not know this, not being English, in England Nobby is the nickname of everybody called Clarke-"
"The girls in Nobby's are naturally called Nobs," Kay put in.
"And the third House was Michael's, which became Spike's. Spike's isn't up to much."
"Thank goodness that I wasn't put into any of these mouldering ruins," was Lynette's only comment. "New House is at least bright and clean."

From NEW HOUSE AT NORTHMEAD, Chapter 1, The New House. Nicky and Kay attempt to explain the house system to bewildered newcomer Lynette. Their friendship gets off to a rocky start because Lynette has just arrived from Africa and is constantly complaining about England. The English girls don't take her criticisms well and refer to her as a "rough colonial".

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Susan Pulls the Strings (blurb)

Quote of the Day

The old peasant, hanging on for dear life to the rope, was jerked off his feet and fell to his knees in the roadway. Agamemnon swerved past him and braked, and Penny, taken off her balance, was hurled against one of the bunks while a frying-pan fell off its hook and hit her smartly on the side of the head. Hurray, she thought, a frying-pan lying in the road would be a nice clue, and she struggled to her feet and heaved the frying-pan out of the window.
But Penny's aim was never very good. The frying-pan went sailing through the window of the nearest cottage; although how it made its way past the serried ranks of petunias, begonias and geraniums which were on the window sill Penny often afterwards wondered. There was a yell of fury from within, and an old woman, tall and grim in her long black Tracht, the clothes of the district, came out, shouting indignantly at the caravan.

From FIVEPENNY MYSTERY, Chapter 11, When Greek Meets Greek.

The Home-Made Bomb

From Susan and the Home-Made Bomb (illustration by R. A. Branton).  Susan is injured by Pea-green's bomb, which he had concealed inside an old orange peel held together with scotch tape. Susan gets quite a shock when she throws it into  the fire.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Oh, what luck!" I said. "A lion at last!"
Then the penny dropped, as they say. "Wa-a-ah," said Dizzy in a trembling voice, "a lion!"
"And we're not even in a game reserve," I quavered.
"We're not even in a car," said Dizzy.
We clutched one another in dreadful panic.
The lion, every inch the king of the beasts, was standing meditatively in the middle of the road.

From NOTHING HAPPENED AFTER ALL, Chapter 5, A Lion at Last.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Credit to Artists

Today I received a message from Norman. No further information about him is provided and no e-mail address to write back to, so I'll reply to his post here. First, the post: 

Hi Robert,
Some of us might be here more for the artwork. PLEASE give credit when it's known. Thanks a great blog.

Hi Norman, I'm happy you enjoy the blog. The artwork is an extremely important aspect of Jane Shaw's books and I often mention the name of the artist. I don't always do this. Sometimes it may be due to neglect, especially in the earlier posts when my intention was just to get the Jane Shaw legacy "out there" (although some of these posts have been edited and modified to include more information). But on other occasions it's because the artist is not identified in the books (at least not in the copies I have). For example, yesterday I posted the spine of my copy of Susan Rushes In. The artist's name is not given. Many illustrations in the books are credited to R. A. Branton. However, I have no further information about this person (man or woman, age, track record, etc.). Any reader who has more information can post a comment and I'll modify the post to include it. Other harder-to-find illustrations, such as those of the early Susan books that were not reprinted in the Children's Press editions, can also be forwarded to me for inclusion in the blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Susan Rushes In

It's interesting to see what people are looking for when they visit this blog. As the moderator, I can see who is visiting; well, at least from which countries, and what they are looking for. For instance, one person was looking for a real life Adrian Gascoigne; another was seeking an artist called Gabrielle Gascoigne. Poor people, to know that the names they are seeking have been permanently tarnished as a result of the stories about the ghastly Gascoigne family. But, of course, there are also people who are actually looking for information about Jane Shaw. The key search words are often very exact: for example "jane shaw" wichwood "mrs weatherby"; or "susan pulls the strings" jane shaw "children's press"; or "jane shaw" "penny books" nelson publishers; or belinda "jane shaw"... The variations are endless. However, the number one search by far is "jane shaw" "susan rushes in". Why this title is the most popular is something that I'm at a loss to explain. It may be that it is a very short and simple title that sticks in the minds of the nostalgic, or just a title that most people remember. The spine of my copy of the book shows Susan's last moment of innocent bliss. She and Midge are enjoying a peach from the garden next door. And then their happy world is shattered forever when they are confronted by horrible Gabrielle, who is quick to point out that they are snatching fruit from her garden. This is Susan and the Carmichaels' introduction to the horrible Gascoinge family who have taken possession of the neighbouring house. And civilization as they know it has come to an end!

But, whatever the reason, it's official: Susan Rushes In is the main source of visitors to this blog!

Susan Rushes In is the fifth book in the series, but in chronological terms it is the second because Susan At School takes place immediately after Susan Pulls the Strings, being set in January, just after Susan's first Christmas and New Year with the Carmichaels, as the publishers wanted a school story and Jane Shaw decided to begin at the beginning of Susan's tenure at St. Ronan's.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crooked Sixpence cover

Crooked Sixpence illustration

An illustration from Tudor Boy, the first chapter of Crooked Sixpence. This is the book I'm currently reading.

Crooked Sixpence (blurb)

The blurb from Crooked Sixpence, the last of the Penny books. It is a slightly expanded version of the ad on the inside cover of New House at Northmead.

Quote of the Day

These Gascoignes, I should explain, live next door to us at home, and more awkward neighbours it would be difficult to imagine. They're all simply awful and they all behave in the dottiest way, but Peregrine, whom we call Pea-green in order to relieve our feelings, is the worst. If ever a boy should have been left on a bleak hill-side to perish like the Spartans of old, he's the one. To begin with, he's allowed to do exactly as he likes in case his personality should get stunted or something, and the first time that Susan ever saw him he jumped on her from a great height dressed up in a moth-eaten old fur coat pretending to be a gorilla. Susan thought he was a gorilla and has never quite got over this and is always expecting the worst from Pea-green. She is, I may say, seldom disappointed. Oddly enough, Aunt Lucy seems to like these dreadful Gascoignes - Aunt Lucy, by the way, looks after us since we have no mother; she's Susan's aunt too. Susan is our cousin, she is living with us at the moment while her people are in Africa. Oh, and I'm Marjorie Carmichael, but I'm always called Midge. I could tell you plenty about Susan's character only she happens to be reading this over my shoulder. So I shall say that she thinks it is her mission in life to interfere in everybody's business and try to organise their lives and change things for the better.

From SUSAN'S SCHOOL PLAY.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In-joke

A close up of the in-joke on the cover of No Trouble for Susan. While working at the bookshop, Susan is piling books about herself! Note that Susan's Trying Term has been changed to Susan's Trying Time.

Mrs. Weatherby's Brooch

An illustration from Chapter 11 of No Trouble for Susan. Susan has found a brooch in the theatre and the gang hope to claim a fat reward. However, it turns out to be Mrs. Weatherby's, and when Joe the policeman suggests a reward, she grudgingly agrees to pay a measly half a crown. 

Quote of the Day

The mess was awful. Every locker had been emptied and its contents dumped in the middle of the room. The cushions had been taken off the window seats and also dumped on the floor in the middle of the room. Each of the seven members of the First Form had her head buried in a locker; the Second Form, quite regardless of the confusion around them, were huddled in a small oasis of calm by the fire, looking at photographs and sticking them in their albums.
Kay, Nicky and Lynette stopped just inside the door. "Spring cleaning?" Kay inquired.
Georgina Stone took her head out of the locker. "Oh, hullo, Kay," she said. "No, we're not spring cleaning." She looked round cautiously, and lowered her voice. "We're looking for bombs."

From NEW HOUSE AT NORTHMEAD, Chapter 7, Danger! Girls at Work.

Susan Muddles Through (blurb)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Blot

A scene from Chapter 7 of Northmead Nuisance, A Plan Gone Wrong. The ugly prefabricated building on the school grounds, known to the pupils as The Blot, is demolished by an elm tree during a violent storm.

Fairground Fracas (Repost)

The hilarious scene from Chapter 2 of Looking After Thomas, The Fair. The hoopla man tries to cheat Thomas out of his winnings, arousing the wrath of several onlookers, who get into a big fight with the stall owner.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Quote of the Day

The rest of the journey passed uneventfully and they reached Paris in the early evening. Their first ride through the Paris streets was exceedingly alarming, as the traffic went terrifyingly fast and, of course, on the wrong side of the road. Even Denise, who, much to their annoyance, was sharing a taxi with Fay, Julie and Ricky, was too unnerved to show off her superior knowledge of Paris landmarks properly.
"Yes, well, that the Louvre, - oh help, they're going to hit us - there's the Seine-"
"Of course it's the Seine," said Julie crossly, terror making her short-tempered, "we don't need you to tell us that's the Seine."
"Well," said Denise, rather huffily, "I bet you don't know that there are twenty-two bridges over the Seine in the central part of Paris and I bet you don't know that the Pont Neuf which is French for new bridge is the oldest bridge in Paris-"
People who tell you things like that," said Fay, resolutely turning her eyes away from the frenzied traffic, "are frightfully irritating because they know that you can't check up. You might be telling us the most awful rubbish."
"Well, I'm not," said Denise, "I'm telling you-"
"What's this big square?" Ricky interrupted. "It's lovely! All those fountains and statues and - oh help, did you see that Citröen, it nearly climbed right over our bonnet! It cut right in front, it-"
"This is the Place de la Concorde," said Denise. "Look up there, that's the Champs Elysées, leading up to the Arc de Triomphe-" the rest of her sentence was drowned as the taxi hurtled violently round the Place de la Concorde and she was thrown into Fay's lap.
The taxi turned towards the Place Vendôme and then into the comparative quite of the little narrow street where their hotel was situated.

From CROOKS TOUR, Chapter 7, On To Paris.

Brer Rabbit (back cover)

Ads from New House at Northmead

Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox

In the late 1960s, Collins asked Jane Shaw to retell the old Brer Rabbit folk tales. She undertook the project and the book was published in 1969. She often phoned the American consulate in Johannesburg for advice on the dialect. The tales also get a mention in Venture to South Africa, with one of the boys telling Dizzy and Alison of his enthusiasm for the stories.

Quote of the Day

"There you are then," said Fanny. "We'll get a loaf and some potatoes and some of that kind of meat and I'll make a stew-"
And so she did; and a very excellent stew it was, and if there were rather more suet dumplings in it than meat, nobody minded because they all rather liked suet dumplings. And there was a piece of newspaper wrapped round the loaf, and Pips lay on her stomach on the roof (the sun had come out again) reading it, while the other two dozed. As usual, it was full of infinitely more exciting news than the newspapers one came by through the more usual channels. She had noticed that before - when Bella Maclean's fire had been sulky and Pips had held a newspaper up to make it go better, there were always the most interesting paragraphs to read before the whole thing went up in flames.

From THE CREW OF THE BELINDA, Chapter 9, Pips Has an Idea.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Crew of the Belinda (Frontispiece)

A. J. Wotherspoon

The frontispiece of Northmead Nuisance, showing Gail being confronted by Michael's taciturn friend A. J. Wotherspoon.

Quote of the Day

As they rose from the table, Louise, whose face had been growing grimmer and grimmer with suppressed disapproval as she came and went from the kitchen serving dinner, addressed Madame:
"The kitchen, Madame, is full of peasants." Her voice was charged with a Parisian's disgust at these uncivilised Bretons. "And they all say they have found Mademoiselle Sara's watch."
Sara gave a little jump and a squeak of joy; Caroline and Madame looked at each other in consternation.
"I knew that enormous reward would do the trick," said Sara jubilantly, itching to be off to claim her lost property.
"Yes, but what trick?" Caroline asked dolefully.
Madame led them to the kitchen, Louise following in their wake, muttering. Indeed, the big, stone-flagged kitchen, its pots and pans gleaming in the light of the fire, seemed to be full to bursting of dark, smiling faces, but after the first shock Caroline counted six small boys, two young fishermen in their blue jerseys, and one ancient crone who leaned on a stick and who could only have reached Petit Chose at all by a miracle or a lift from M. le Boulanger. They gave Madame a great welcome, and the ubiquitous Josèphe-Marie, in his sabots and black pinafore, who was apparently first in the field, was pushed forward and exhorted to produce his exhibit. Which he did with pride and confidence. There was a deathly silence. It was a watch, all right, there was no mistaking that, but there the resemblance to Sara's ended. Impossible to know from whence Josèphe-Marie had unearthed that venerable turnip, but it had served its day and generation and should have been left to moulder in peace. Its face was begrimed out of all recognition, its case, once perhaps silver, was black where it wasn't green and carried many an honourable scar.
Sara gazed at it with wide eyes and listened spell-bound while Josèphe-Marie described with a wealth of detail just where on the path he had found it. Sara shook her head dumbly, and again more dumbly when he asked in a tone of the greatest surprise if she were quite sure it wasn't her watch. That, and a word from Madame, made Josèphe-Marie retire, obviously astounded at his failure, and one by one the others were produced. Never can there have been such a collection of watches - they were all sizes, in varying stages of decay, two only were wrist-watches, one of them of gunmetal and brand-new, no doubt straight out of M. l'Horloger the watch-maker's; one had an Albert chain attached.
"I'm waiting for the crone to produce an hour-glass," giggled Caroline in Sara's ear. They were all laughing by this time.

From BRETON ADVENTURE, Chapter 9, The Great Watch Racket.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Job for Susan (spine)

Last week I wrote about Susan's chase around London in search of "rare" 1951 pennies that could be exchanged for up to ten pounds. However, one collectors' site I visited claimed that the 1951 penny is one of the most overrated collectible coins in the world because it isn't really all that rare and certainly not very valuable.

However that may be, the quest for rare coins is an exciting part of the story and the pennies are featured on the spine of the book. The most prominent of the pennies is dated 1967.

Apart from the Gascoignes, the miserly Sir Arthur Symes, known to the gang as the Wicked Baronet, or Bad Bart for short, is also up to his old tricks in this story. The front cover, posted in the very early days of this blog, shows him peering into Bluebeard's Chamber at Susan's house. The old crook plays a prominent part in this story, including using Bill for what can only be described as hours of slave labour.

The book, like many Susan stories, is packed: Susan and Tessa are eyewitnesses to a hold-up at the bank, Charlotte comes into her own as an artist and Susan is determined to help Maggie from the art gallery. At the art gallery, a local artist, Mr. Tertius Smith, has tried to go modern and created an awful oval metal ball that the gang nickname's Mr. Egg. And Tessa from St. Ronan's brings an element of fun when she is invited to spend Christmas in Wichwood Village. She dresses up Mr. Egg with Bill's coat and a balaclava, incurring the wrath of the injured Mr. Smith. My favourite of all the Jane Shaw books I've read so far. 

Where is Susan? (blurb)

I bought a new scanner this week and am taking advantage of this rainy bank holiday here in Brazil to get a few things into digital form. This is the blurb for Where is Susan? My copy has no DJ, but someone had cut out the blurb and tucked it inside the book. This was Jane Shaw's only book set in Venice.

Susan Summaries

The back cover of A Job for Susan has short descriptions of the first ten books in the series.

A Job for Susan (blurb)

When I was a very small boy, decimalisation was on its way in and  I can only vaguely remember the old pounds, shillings and pence. It's a bit bewildering for me when I read Jane Shaw books because they talk about something costing five shillings and I find myself wondering, "Is that a lot?" Bill's train set in Susan Pulls the Strings cost eight pounds, which seems to have been a fabulous sum in the early 1950s. But I wasn't around then, so I can't really be sure. I just have to admit that all this old money confuses me. However, the dust jacket of A Job for Susan brought back some distant childhood memories. At the change-over items would often have prices in both old money and the new decimal currency. Fortunately, my copy of the book is not price-clipped, and we can see that you could snap up the last of the Susan series for either ten shillings or fifty pence. My own recollections of decimalisation are distant memories of my dad, like many others, holding on to old money because it might be worth something one day, and my mother at the shops complaining that the new currency had resulted in astronomical price rises. Of course, by 1973 my parents had no old money left. It had either got lost or had been passed off to inattentive shopkeepers by my little brother and me. The old ha'pennies were easily confused with the new 2p coins and we were surprisingly successful at getting an extra bar of toffee or something by mixing them in with other coins. The devious mind of a seven-year-old! Seeing the unclipped dust wrapper brought those memories back... 

Northmead Nuisance blurb

Now the blurb to the sequel of New House: Northmead Nuisance, published by Nelson in 1963. The Northmead books are in a class of their own, with anti-climax as a tool in both stories. It, too, is an enjoyable read, but not exactly in the same vein as Susan at School, for example.   

New House blurb

Here's the blurb for New House at Northmead, published by Nelson in 1961. I reviewed this book a couple of months ago and the review can be read by clicking here. I enjoyed the story a great deal, although it doesn't seem to have been very popular in its day, and the series ended after only two books. 

Tollgate Road

A photo and information available at http://citytransport.info/Fee.htm. The Carmichaels live on Tollgate Road in Wichwood Village. In real life, this road is called College Road and is located in Dulwich Village in London. Jane Shaw chose its name because there really is a toll gate there, the last one in the city. It was built in 1789 by John Morgan when he rented land from Dulwich College. Here we can see the sign that is how much people had to pay in pre-decimal money. By clicking on the link, you can see more photos, including the toll gate itself, and a conversion of the prices into decimal money. The gate is first mentioned in Chapter 2 of Susan Pulls the Strings:

Opposite the house was the Picture Gallery, which was quite famous, and in front of the houses in Tollgate Road were grass verges surrounded by black and white posts. There really was a toll-gate, too, farther up the road, a trap for unwary motorists who had to pay threepence or go round the other way.

Quote of the Day

"Fire!" yelled Laura. "The boathouse is on fire!"
"The boathouse!" Mrs. Mallory exclaimed and ran to the telephone. She telephoned the fire brigade at Bath, and the police and Mr. Port; if he could bring the keys, then the boats might be saved. But the telephone rang and rang in an empty room - there was no reply from Mr. Port.
Stephen began organising immediately. "Get buckets," he ordered. "Everybody get buckets or anything that will hold water - get everything you can, and we'll go back there and make a chain." He ran out to the stables and shouted to old Potts and seized a coal bucket as he ran.
Mrs. Mallory abandoned Mr. Port. She grabbed the fire extinguisher in one hand and an enamel pail that she used for her flowers in the other and ran. Nanny handed out every conceivable receptacle for holding water that she could lay her hands on. Laura grabbed the rubbish pail, tipped the rubbish out on to the kitchen floor, and with that and a coke scoop flew out of the house. Jill and Penny and John came after, carrying jugs, kettles, even saucepans - Penny staggered under a preserving pan and a plastic washing-up bowl.; then came Nanny, half-dragging, half-carrying a big tin bath that was used for bathing the dogs; old Potts, roused by the shouts from his cosy little room above the stables, shouldered the garden hose and lumbered after the others.
"If - we can - just - keep - it - under," grunted Stephen as he ran, "until - the - fire brigade - comes."
When they reached the boathouse again the girls were horrified to see what a hold the fire had taken. Stephen formed them into a chain with John well in the river filling the buckets and himself at the end, nearest the fire, flinging his useless-seeming little drops of water into the blaze. The flames licked up over the roof and down the whole length of the boathouse; the fire crackled and roared.

From THREEPENNY BIT, Chapter 12, Fire!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No Trouble for Susan (blurb)

Here's the blurb for No Trouble for Susan, the eighth in the series and the last of the not-so-hard-to-find books. It's also one of my favourites. As I've mentioned before, this book is often confused with A Job for Susan as the gang spend Christmas in Wichwood Village and help out a local shop keeper. But they also help out at the local theatre. This is the story with Timmy the Terror and his gang. It's a very enjoyable story and includes the disagreeable Mrs. Weatherby, who is angry after being sure that she lost her brooch at the book shop, claiming that it is very valuable and somehow accusing Susan and the Carmichaels of being incompetent.

However, when the brooch turns up at the theatre and Joe the policeman phones her and suggests offering the cousins a reward, she changes her tune, claiming that the value is only sentimental.

Quote of the Day

Fiona suddenly said, "Mr. Manson, could you sail a boat from Cornwall to Brittany quite easily? I mean, if your boat had an engine as well as sails?"
Miss Grey's fork landed on the floor with a clatter. Mr. Manson bent and picked it up, and the ever-watchful Geneviève padded round to her with another. "Don't ask me anything about boats, Fiona," said Mr. Manson. "I personally couldn't sail a boat across St. Brioc bay. But I imagine that those young men who sail boats could do a trip like that quite easily. Miss Grey, you know everything, do you know about sailing from Cornwall to France?"
"Oh no, Mr. Manson," said Miss Grey. "Mumsie and I could scarcely rise to yachting."
Mr. Manson broke the rather embarrassed silence which followed this remark. "Why, Fiona? Were you thinking of sailing back to school?"
Fiona laughed. "Hardly," she said. "I'm a rotten sailor, I get sea-sick."
"You weren't sick on the steamer coming over, were you?" said Miss Grey.
"Not quite," said Fiona, "but that was a nice big steady boat and I had bottles of sea-sick remedy."
Geneviève handed round crêpes Suzette, miracles of crisp deliciousness.
"And what were you thinking of doing this afternoon?" Mr. Manson said.
"Sleeping, I should think," said Fiona. "After such heavenly food."

From THE MOOCHERS ABROAD, Chapter 6, A Great Light Dawns.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Susan and the Home-Made Bomb (colour illustration)

Colour illustration from the 1958 short story Susan and the Home-Made Bomb: Susan is covered by some ghastly green liquid from Pea-green's chemistry set.