Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Susan's Kind Heart cover

Sara and Caroline visited Brittany in 1939 in Breton Adventure. The Moochers sailed over to Binic in 1951, and Penny paid a visit in 1954. In 1965, Jane Shaw decided that it was time for her most popular character Susan to visit the north of France. The result was Susan's Kind Heart. In this book, the name of Binic is changed to St. Clos. The cover is unique in that it does not depict a scene from the story and has an enticer that makes use of alliteration. The dark-haired girl is Damienne, whom Susan and Midge befriend at the villa. Like its predecessors, Susan's Kind Heart has painstaking descriptions of the region. There are some signs of modernization such as faster cars, more electricity and improved indoor plumbing. But the activities that the previous characters enjoyed like swimming in the grève, long walks round the shops and feasting at the pâtisserie are all part of Susan's holiday too. And, like Caroline and Sara, the original purpose of Susan and Midge's trip to France is to improve their French. The story begins with Aunt Lucy "shuddering" at the girls' report cards from St. Ronan's. She follows Charlotte's suggestion that Susan and Midge should accompany her to Brittany, where she is going to stay with a French family. Predictably, like Caroline and Sara, the girls make very little (if any) improvement to their French. When they arrive in Brittany, they find that the other people they encounter are either English themselves or are foreigners eager to improve their own mastery of our native tongue. As a result, the girls have very little need to actually speak French. It is hard to understand how the families of Jane Shaw's characters are willing to spend so much on their education when virtually no progress is made in any subject.