Saturday, November 25, 2006

Books I have Loved

The purpose of yesterday's post was to not have to think--but it got me thinking anyway---about books I have known. My earliest book-memory is of "The Ugly Duckling". Two things converged: my love of the pictures in that book and my new-found ability to use scissors. The damage was done by the time the parents figured out why I was so quiet.

My family had an elderly friend, a lady who had introduced my mother to my father. We called her Auntie Ita. She was always invited for special occasions; those special enough to warrant lighting the fire in the sitting room. And she always brought us presents. She knitted beautiful outfits for my dolls, and for my birthday one year she gave me my first "chapter" books. A set of three books: "What Katy Did", "What Katy Did Next", and "What Katy Did at School". At first I was disappointed at the scarcity of pictures. But not for long. I was dazzled by my ability to read such "grown-up"stuff. And the pictures that formed in my head more than compensated for the lack of pictures on the page. Katy was my hero. I wanted to be just like her. She paved the way for a whole slew of new friends like "Heidi" and the March sisters .

From age ten to about thirteen I was in love with the "Mallory Towers " series by Enid Blyton. There was also a periodical for girls ,"Bunty", that came out every Monday. This was a long time ago, but I can still remember racing to the shop on the way home from school every Monday to see what had happened with "The Four Marys", or "Pocahontas", or "Uncle Tom's Cabin", or "David Copperfield"..............."Girls' Crystal" and "School Friend" were some other girls' periodicals, and all of them published a big Annual at the end of the year. To find one of them under the Christmas tree was bliss indeed.

In secondary school our reading anthologies opened up new vistas. The excerpts were just enough to whet your appetite for more, so you'd hop on your bike and pedal across town to the library to check out the likes of Jane Eyre, Pride and Predjudice, Wuthering Heights, The Mill on the Floss, Pickwick Papers, and The Old Curiosity Shop.

When we visited my grandmother out the country, I'd sometimes curl up on the window seat, hidden behind the heavy drapes, with a pile of my aunt's ladies' magazines, which always had romantic stories that I just lapped up, unknown to the grownups , who would have disapproved of me "filling my head with all that nonsense", and chased me outside to play.

One summer I "roosted " in the tree at the bottom of our garden reading "Gone with the Wind". Our neighbour, Mrs. W, would shout at me from her kitchen window "You be careful, Mollybawn! You're going to fall out of that tree one day and break your backside!" I never did though.

I was shocked, one winter afternoon, rummaging through the bookshelf by the fireside in the dining room, to find "Peyton Place". Dipping in and out, my cheeks blazed. Oh my gosh! I couldn't believe my staid parents were reading such racy stuff.

And then my mother gave me Daphne DuMaurier's "Rebecca" to read........and then........and then........and then........Books........I love 'em.


velcro said...

I used to love the Katy books too and the Enid Blyton ones especially Mallory Tower, St Claire's and the Famous Five. I was desperately disappointed when I went to boarding school to find that it wasn't all midnight feasts and jolly hockey sticks (and I hated hockey!).
I don't think Bunty is published anymore, but I read it I think until I was about 12 and the Four Marys were in it then.

Pam said...

Oh yes, I too was a "Mallory Towers" addict. Darrell Rivers and her friend Felicity. I read the "Judy", not the "Bunty". And yes, "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" and "Anne of Green Gables" and the Katy books and Louisa May Alcott. Oh, to have the time to read so much now. I mainly read in the bath and in bed now. My books tend to have slightly wrinkled pages where I dripped on them.

caramaena said...

Ahh the Katy books... forgotten all about them until now. I loved them too.

Reminded me of another series I loved - the Drina books