Friday, August 03, 2007

13 Days and Counting...

A lovely summer day. I slept well last night, and today I'm lazing around reading a novel in the flickering shadow of laundry drying in the back garden. The novel is Stella Gibbons' The Matchmaker (1950), which I found on a shelf in my sister-in-law's house. Inside the front cover, the book is inscribed with a woman's name and then: "On loan to S— H— [my brother-in-law]. August 1978." I guess the loan has become rather permanent.

Stella Gibbons' only novel to remain in print is the perennially popular Cold Comfort Farm, which was made into a charming film starring the lovely young Kate Beckinsale. There are only three copies of The Matchmaker available on Amazon.com, the least expensive of which costs $94.14. The situation is even worse for Rachel Ferguson's astonishing novel The Bront√ęs Went to Woolworths, two paperback copies of which are available on Amazon starting at $167.19. Worst of all is the $2,475 price tag for the unique copy available on Amazon of Margery Sharp's first novel, Rhododendron Pie.

What is one to do when one develops a taste for authors like Stella Gibbons, Rachel Ferguson, and Margery Sharp? Acquire their books on permanent loan, I suppose.

One of the side effects of my reading is to make me look forward to returning to England and spending more time in the south. The Matchmaker takes place in West Sussex, about fifteen miles from the village of Amberley, to which two of the characters have just made a Sunday afternoon expedition and walked beneath the walls of the castle (now a luxury hotel, then a near-ruin). The novel is full of beautiful and affectionate descriptions of the Sussex countryside. This year in England, we favored the Midlands and the north of the country, with week-long holidays in the Lake District and North Yorkshire. Clara and I have talked about coming back in a couple of years and walking the South Downs Way.

1 comment:

fabrile heart said...

The view of the northern aspect of Chanctonbury Ring and the whaleback ridge of the South Downs as the A24 swoops past the village of Ashington, is the first sign on our journey back from the airport that we are nearly home. With it’s gentle, undulating dips it is not as dramatic as the Dales, Peaks or Lakes, but it’s home and we love it. If you and Clara find yourself visiting after June 2008 perhaps you would like to meet up for a chat over a pint of local brew?