Bookworm . . . . . . .
A selection of favourite titles chosen by the readers of Evergreen
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.