Sunday, December 8, 2013

Places in Jane Shaw: Titlis

In Chapter 9 of Susan Interferes, Susan, Midge and Charlotte finally give in and go to the Joch Pass. They are impressed by Mount Titlis. Here we can indeed see the "mountains reflected in the still waters" of the lake. Titlis is also the name of Bill's favourite boat on Lake Lucerne. The girls were resisting the trip to the Joch Pass because they were dreading the chair lift. After the cable-car ride up to Wissifluh, they are sure that sitting with their legs dangling into space from a chair lift will be ten times as scary. But in the end it turns out to be quite a pleasant experience. The day is even more enjoyable because the Gascoignes are away showing the sights around Lucerne to their travel writer friend Miss Prescott.

Quote of the Day

The cable-railway took them to Trübsee. A hotel was perched on the very edge of space in a very dizzy and alarming manner but they walked quickly past that and came to the Trübsee itself, a most beautiful little lake with the mountains reflected in its still depths.

From SUSAN INTERFERES, Chapter 9, Susan Tries to Help.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rigi Train

In Chapter 2 of Susan Interferes, Susan and the whole Carmichael family go up the Rigi. At first the indolent Midge is reluctant, but changes her tune when she is told that they will be going by train. "Going up in a train was exactly her idea of mountain-climbing". When they arrive at Vitznau, "just a step from the pier, almost in the middle of the village street, a little red train was waiting". On the way up, Bill informs his sisters and cousin that this railway was the first mountain railway in Europe and that it was built in 1871 and electrified in 1937. Although Midge readily agrees to the ascent by train, she is not so keen on Aunt Lucy's suggestion that they should walk back down. Indeed, she gets out of most of this walk by persuading Susan to go back down by train, only to remember when it is too late that they have no tickets and no money. The train in the photograph was built in 1923 and Jane Shaw herself probably travelled on it during her visits to Switzerland.

Quote of the Day

Well if a dog can do it - she thought, and stepped into the car which rocked violently, feeling quite brave. This feeling disappeared immediately as the car dropped rapidly down the cliff face into space. She looked down once and was so appalled at the distance they were from the ground that she closed her eyes quickly as a shudder of absolute terror went through her. Midge said plaintely that she had left her tummy up at Wissifluh.

From SUSAN INTERFERES, Chapter 5, Looking for Fräulein Amacher. The cable car rides up to Wissifluh and back and the terror that Susan feels in the little red conveyance are described in detail in this chapter and provide the best moments of humour in the book. The cable car is described as a "small red tin box" and a "tin can". Only Bill enjoys the ride, while the girls are terrified.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Susan's School Play

A scene from the 1957 short story Susan's School Play. Peregrine Gascoigne causes havoc at St. Ronan's.

Quote of the Day

"Oh," said Dizzy, as we went along the platform in the direction of a taxi, "that was a heavenly story. But next time that you tell it to us you mustn't cut it short, you must tell us every detail, how you got through the Bolshevik guards and what you said to them and what they said to you and so on."

From ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN, Chapter 13, Surfeit of Bracelets.

Wonder Story Book

The Wonder Story Book, containing Griselda and the Goblin. For more information about the Griselda stories, click here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Quote of the Day

Meantime the winter passed and the rains came. Jennifer's lips stopped cracking with the dryness; the gardens burst out into a blaze of colour; a dull, spindly little tree in the front garden suddently put forth clusters of yellow flowers with long red tails which were called birds of paradise; the coarse leaves in front of the wall were beautified by the tall agapanthus, the blue African lily.

From VENTURE TO SOUTH AFRICA, Chapter 9, Looking After Stella.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Calvaries of Brittany

As they drive around Brittany, Susan and the Carmichaels often see Calvaries. These statues are dotted all over the region. Although they can be found in many parts of Europe, they are particularly popular in Brittany and Belgium. This one is in Finistère, the French equivalent of Land's End. In Susan's Kind Heart, when Jean-Louis tells the children about Mont St. Michel, he compares it with St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. Several comparisons are drawn between Brittany and Cornwall. The children observe that "like Cornwall, the inland scenery of Brittany was less interesting than the coast". When they arrive at Dinan ("not to be confused with Dinard") and Jean-Louis speaks his piece about Napoleon the Third and the confusion over a new spire for St. Malo's Church in Dinan that actually ended up being built in the town of St. Malo, he and Susan draw comparisons between the strange names of Cornish and Breton saints. Brittany has saints with names like St. Clos, St. Budoc and St. Cast, while Cornwall has St. Kew, St. Tudy and St. Mawes. Jean-Louis then provides further confusing information that the names of St. Brieuc and St. Brioc are interchangeable, but that the saint was actually Welsh. It's unusual that of all the young people on the journey, the author chose Susan to rattle off all this information about the saints of Cornwall and Brittany. It's not like her to have this sort of stuff on fast recall, although earlier in the story, when she surprises Charlotte and Midge by telling them the French word for boiled egg, she claims that there are a whole lot of things that she knows that she doesn't get credit for.

Quote of the Day

In a little while Penny, sitting on her wall as if nothing had happened, gazing urgently out to sea, led the procession back into the square, amid the tumultuous cheers of the crowd. This time, her family were thankful to note, she had removed the sun-hat....
"But," said Penny, when she could make herself heard, "why bagpipes?"
"Oh, we have bagpipes in Brittany," answered Miss Foster, "just as in Scotland, only they are slightly different."

From TWOPENCE COLOURED, Chapter 9, Penny Leads the Procession.