Book­worm . . . . . . .

A se­lec­tion of favourite ti­tles cho­sen by the read­ers of Ever­green

Evergreen - - Contents Summer 2015 - Stephen Gar­nett

Writ­ing from Bournemouth in Hamp­shire, Mrs. Con­nie Hazell says that she was de­lighted to be re­minded of the Just Wil­liam books which we high­lighted in this fea­ture in the Win­ter 2013 edi­tion. Although she didn’t read the books her­self, she re­mem­bers lis­ten­ing to them on Chil­dren’s Hour and see­ing her 11- yearold old cousin ly­ing ful­l­length on the sofa laugh­ing out loud at the ex­ploits of Wil­liam Brown!

In her early teens, Con­nie was an avid reader of the Scar­let Pimpernel books of Baroness Or­czy. Even if they haven’t read the books, I am sure that, like me, many peo­ple will be ac­quainted with the hero, Sir Percy Blak­eney, through the var­i­ous film adap­ta­tions. It is old now, hav­ing been made in 1934, but the ver­sion star­ring Les­lie Howard as the “damned elu­sive Pimpernel” who res­cues aris­to­crats from the guil­lo­tine dur­ing the French Revo­lu­tion re­mains my favourite.

The Baroness’s full name was — Take a deep breath! — Emma (“Em­muska”) Mag­dolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Bor­bála Or­czy de Or­czi, and she was born in Tar­naors in Hungary in 1865. Her fam­ily moved to Lon­don in 1880 where she at­tended West Lon­don School of Art and then Heather­ley’s School of Fine Art. The Scar­let Pimpernel ( 1905) be­gan life as a stage- play, en­joy­ing a long, record- break­ing run in the West End, be­fore be­ing pub­lished as a novel. The book’s suc­cess prompted her to write a num­ber of se­quels, in­clud­ing The Elu­sive Pimpernel ( 1908), The League of the Scar­let Pimpernel ( 1919), The Tri­umph of the Scar­let Pimpernel ( 1922),

The Ad­ven­tures of the Scar­let Pimpernel ( 1929) and The Way of the Scar­let Pimpernel ( 1933). The fi­nal book in the se­ries, Mam’zelle Guil­lo­tine, was pub­lished in 1940.

Af­ter many years liv­ing in Monte Carlo, fol­low­ing the death of her hus­band in 1943 she re­turned to Eng­land where she died in 1947, just weeks af­ter com­plet­ing her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Links in the Chain of Life.

One of the joys of re­ceiv­ing letters for this fea­ture is the way that it alerts me to “new” au­thors. David Roberts is cer­tainly not a writer I have come across be­fore, but Mrs. Hazell says that his mys­tery nov­els set in the 1930s are very en­joy­able and well re­searched.

I have looked him up and dis­cov­ered that, hav­ing been an editor at Chatto and Win­dus pub­lish­ers and a part­ner of Michael O’ Mara Books, David be­came a full- time writer in 2000. His nov­els, set against a back­drop of real his­tor­i­cal events, fea­ture the ad­ven­tures of Lord Ed­ward Corinth and Ver­ity Browne, and in­clude Sweet Poi­son ( 2001), The Bones are Buried ( 2001), Hol­low Crown ( 2002), Dan­ger­ous Sea ( 2003) and The Qual­ity of Mercy ( 2006).

Fi­nally, Con­nie also rec­om­mends The Re­turn ( 2008) by Vic­to­ria His­lop: “For those read­ers who know there was a Span­ish Civil War but don’t know much about it. She de­scribes the re­al­i­ties of civil war but through the eyes and ex­pe­ri­ences of a fam­ily who seem real.”

Please send de­tails of your favourite books, past and present, to “Book­worm”, Ever­green, The Lyp­i­atts, Lans­down Road,

Chel­tenham, Glouces­ter­shire GL50 2JA.

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