Two for Children of All Ages

I’m quite a bit behind with my book blogging, due to the mayhem which comes with preparing to move house after 26 years of living here. I can hardly get into some rooms, they’re so piled up with boxes. Books are lovely, but a nightmare when it comes to moving elsewhere!

Anyway, it must have been at least four weeks since I finished reading Children of the New Forest. The original book was quite a bit longer than my copy which has been edited to cut out the more boring bits apparently.

I enjoyed this one, in parts it reminded me of The Little House on the Prairie books. There are similar descriptions of how they survived and thrived in a new environment.

The children in the title are the four Beverley children. Two boys and two girls, their parents were Royalists during the Civil War. When Cromwell’s men burned their large family home down it was believed that the four children had perished in the fire, but they had been taken into the home of a poor forester who passes them off as his grandchildren. This entails teaching them how to be peasants, rather than the product of a privileged upbringing which they really are.

The life of a peasant sounded idyllic then as it was before the land and forests were enclosed and the only animals which were off limits were the deer, not that that stopped them from shooting deer.

So as the children needed milk they managed to capture and tame a wild cow and in no time they had a surplus of food which they could sell at the market. Sadly the boys learned how to farm and hunt, while the girls learned to cook and keep house. This book probably isn’t for the squeamish as at the beginning there is quite a lot of hunting and descriptions of animals being butchered going on. Apart from that I would have been quite happy to move into that woodland cottage.

The story ends with the eldest boy going off to fight for Charles II and helping him to return as King.

The second children’s book which I’ve read recently is Doctor Dolittle’s Garden. I’m likely to pick up any book which has garden in the title to have a look at it, which is how I ended up buying this one recently. I must admit that I was also drawn to the vibrant artwork of the endpapers.

I hadn’t heard of this series of books before, but I realised that the Doctor Dolittle film starring Rex Harrison was based on the books. I never liked Rex Harrison as an actor, he was neither use nor ornament as far as I’m concerned but someone must have liked him – or he knew where the bodies were buried!

Doctor Dolittle is of course conversing with all sorts of animals and when he finds one which he isn’t able to talk to he isn’t happy until he can find a way of communicating with them. The book has lots of humorous illustrations by the author. These have been reprinted but my copy is an old hardback from 1927, so I’m not sure if the new ones have the illustrations. You can see some Hugh Lofting illustrations here.

And here’s a photo of those zingy endpapers.

Recent Book Purchases


Yet again, I had banned myself from the library to concentrate on my own books, but a visit to the adjoining museum shop to buy a card ended up with me sloping into the library and of course I was seduced by some new books, but it was the unplanned book buying which was quite spectacular. In January it seems that every time I went out of the house I came back with books which I wasn’t even looking for – honest!

A visit to an antiques centre ended up with me buying the lovely Folio editions of the Mapp and Lucia books by E.F. Benson. I have them all but just in paperback so I couldn’t resist these, especially as they were so incredibly cheap. I’m not going to tell you exactly how cheap, I don’t wish to cause pain!

A mooch around some Edinburgh charity shops ended up with me buying the Penguin crimes.
The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie
The Mask of Glass by Holly Roth
Cork on the Water by McDonald Hastings

I also bought It Ends with Revelations by Dodie Smith. Has anyone read this one? I’ve only read I Capture the Castle, which I really enjoyed. Then when I saw a pristine hardback of All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky I had to buy that too.

In the Scottish bookshop in Dunfermline I couldn’t pass up on
Children of the Tempest by Neil Munro and
The Selected Travel Writings of Robert Louis Stevenson called Dreams of Elsewhere.

Taking my library books back I swore I wasn’t going to borrow any more books, well I stuck to that but I couldn’t help just glancing at the bookshelves which hold the books for sale, Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym jumped out at me – really it did!

A trip to St Andrews saw me bringing back:
The Angel in the Corner by Monica Dickens, I haven’t read anything by her for getting on for 40 years, hard to belive it but true.
I also bought The McFlannels See It Through which is the second book in a humorous Scottish wartime series, but I don’t have the first one yet.

A trip to Linlithgow saw me buying:
The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat. It’s a children’s classic which I’ve never got around to reading. Of course it’s set in the English Civil War, which historians now recognise involved the whole of Britain, some of them are now calling it the War of the Three Kingdoms.

Also Nan of Northcote by Doris A Pocock, which is set in a girls school and was published in 1929. It cost me all of £1 and it could be absolute garbage but I love the cover.

My favourite and most expensive purchase was:
Scottish Gardens by Sir Herbert Maxwell, published in 1908 and it has lovely illustrations of some gardens which I’ve visited. I’m sure some of them don’t exist any more but I’m going to track them down and visit the ones I can, to see how they have changed over the years. The book is a beauty and was still a bargain, it’s for sale on the internet for much more than I paid for it. I’ve also discovered that the author was Gavin Maxwell’s grandfather. When I was a teenager I loved his nature books which are set in Scotland.

As you can see, I’ve got to get on with my reading!