Forest Silver by E.M. Ward – British Library

Forest Silver by E.M. Ward (Edith Marjorie) was first published in 1941 but it has just been reprinted by British Library as part of their British Library Women Writers series. I was sent a copy of the book by British Library for review.

The setting for the book is the Lake District, around the Grasmere area, quite early on in World War 2. The area has a lot of new people in it now as the bombing in cities has led to people looking for a safer place to live. But Wing-Commander Richard Blunt is there because he has been invalided out of the R.A.F. He had been badly wounded in an incident which had gained him the Victoria Cross, but had been left with a weak heart and a limp after his convalesence. He immerses himself in the history of the estate.

Corys de Bainriggs is now the owner of her family estate since the death of her grandfather. He had decided to skip a generation when writing his will, presumably he didn’t trust his daughter and wife with the running of the estate. Bonfire Hall is the name of the ‘big house’ and Corys loves every bit of the land surrounding it. She has been offered a lot of money by two of the new inhabitants, they each want a plot of her land to build a house on, but she’s determined to see off all such temptations. But when one of the old houses is burnt down the old man who had lived in it takes to sleeping outdoors Corys is so worried about him she makes a decision she comes to regret bitterly.

This is a great read, I hadn’t even heard of E.M. Ward before being sent this book. Her writing is lovely, she obviously loved the Lake District deeply, but her prose just lands on the right side of being purple. Corys is a bit of a tomboy, she’s described as being a bit immature because she wears shorts and doesn’t care about her looks, she even has brown skin at a time when having a tan wasn’t fashionable. When Corys rather fancies the looks of one of the male evacuees she begins to smarten up her appearance to try to attract his attention, she’s copying the behaviour of some of the young female evacuees, it all makes her seem authentic. An ungrateful old man is particularly recognisable.

Luckily I do know the Grasmere area, and for me that always adds to the enjoyment of a book, when I can see the landscape.

Thank you to British Library for providing me with a copy of the book. I hope that some more of her novels will be reprinted in the future.


4 thoughts on “Forest Silver by E.M. Ward – British Library

  1. Thank you for that fascinating review. Your mention of the British Library brought back memories of using the rotunda reading room and a smaller specialist library when both were housed in Bloomsbury.

    By coincidence, one of my college friends went to work at the BL, but in the new St Pancras location.

    I have several British Library reprints of Victorian and Edwardian novels, all in a very large and (to me) non-standard size of 19cms x 24.5cms.

    When searching for old books I tend to exclude print-to-order versions, having had bad experiences with reprints made from incomplete or damaged scans. No such problem with BL reprints. They’re always a pleasure to read.

    • Janusz,
      I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve only seen the British library online, it looks lovely but I’ll probably never visit as it’s in London. As you say, the BL reprints are really well produced and when so many of the books they produce have been out of print for years and therefore crazily priced online, it’s great that they are reprinting them, I hope they produce some more by this author, although she didn’t write many.

  2. This sounds enjoyable. Most of my Lake District reading is by Arthur Ransome so I have always wanted to go there but haven’t really thought about others’ perspectives of the area.

    • Constance,
      I’ve been around quite a lot of the Lake District so I could picture it in my mind. I’m planning to go there again sometime this year. I’ve bought the Girls Gone By Lake District book so I can read it while I’m there.

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