Monday, May 1, 2017

Notes on A Job for Susan

1. A Job for Susan (1969) is the eleventh and last book in the Susan series and the last book Jane Shaw ever published. She did begin a new story, Susan in Trouble, but the manuscript was abandoned after a few tentative pages. In that story, Susan and Midge were to go to the USA.

2. A Job for Susan recycles many elements of past Susan books. Indeed, readers often confuse it with No Trouble for Susan. Both stories are set in Wichwood at Christmas time, with the children helping out a local shopkeeper in difficulty. In both stories, the ghastly Gascoignes are thankfully absent and a new nemesis steps in: Sir Arthur Symes, a.k.a. the Wicked Baronet or Bad Bart.

3. Susan is no longer living with the Carmichaels. Her parents have returned from Africa and have rented a house called Owl Cottage, not far from the Carmichael residence.

4. Tessa Marshall, Susan and Midge’s rather dim but likeable friend from St. Ronan’s features prominently in the story. When Susan hears that Tessa’s grandmother has gone away and that Tessa will have to spend the holidays with her Aunt Rachel, who lives in deepest Devon, she invites her friend to stay with her in Wichwood.

5. At the beginning of the story, Charlotte announces yet another change in her planned career. Her dreams of becoming a nurse, cook and archaeologist having been thwarted in previous stories, in Where is Susan? Charlotte had made up her mind to become an artist. However, she feels after studying the works of the Old Masters that she will never be very good and decides to set her sights on studying the history of at the Courtland Institute. But when she has some success with her paintings in AJFS, she decides to be an artist again.

6. In this book, Tessa and Bill are given more prominent roles. They were hardly even mentioned in the previous two stories (Susan’s Kind Heart and Where is Susan?) but here Bill’s financial problems are the focus of the story. At school, goaded by an unpleasant teacher, Bill rashly promises to donate the massive sum of ten pounds to Oxfam and now has to spend the holidays trying to raise the money.

7. As usual, Charlotte has no shortage of admirers. Much to Susan’s surprise, one of Charlotte’s admirers takes a fancy to Tessa instead! Being a Susan story, nothing comes of this romance.

8. This story features the pompous artist, Tertius Smith, who creates abstracts, such as Mr. Egg.

9. Now that Susan’s mother is back, the role of Aunt Lucy is greatly diminished and she only appears when preparing meals and has apparently lost her enthusiasm for crazy new hobbies that she had early in the series.

10. There are no internal illustrations. The front cover was drawn by Roger Hall, who would become a prominent illustrator of children’s book in the 1970s.

11. There is yet another cryptic dedication at the front of the book:

FOR
Flora Cohen
WHO ALWAYS WATCHES THE DATES

In Susan and Friends, Jane Shaw’s son, Ian Evans, explains that Flora Cohen was the sister of Sylvia Klugmen, who founded the Children’s Book Shop in Johannesburg. The two sisters, Jane Shaw and another shop employee, Norah Hampton, became a “circle of loyal friends”.

12. A Job for Susan was also the title of Chapter 1 of Susan Rushes In.

Quote of the Day

She saw Bill delivering his papers at the almshouses at the foot of Gallery Road. Bill's jaw dropped open when he saw the van driving back, with Joe Taylor apparently very much in command of the situation. His mouth was still open when Susan reached him.
"You got him!" he yelled. "Spot-on!"
Susan stopped. "Well, yes, we got him," she said. "But Bill, it was Mr. Smith the artist--"
"Mr. Smith the artist!" Bill repreated blankly. "Stealing his own stuff at half-past six in the morning? He must be bonkers!"
"Well, we know he is," said Susan. "That egg! But the thing is, Bill, he wasn't stealing it at all--"
"Why in the middle of the night, then?"
"Only time he could get the van, he said--"
"Oh," said Bill. "Is he cross?"
"Not too pleased," said Susan.

From A JOB FOR SUSAN, Chapter 7, Guarding the Masterpieces. For more on "that egg", click here.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Recent Purchases

My copy of SKH was the paperback published by Bettany Press in 2006. It is a good clean edition with illustrations, but it's not the same experience as reading one of the original hardbacks. So, when I came across a mint condition original at a reasonable price, I snapped it up, along with a first edition of Where is Susan? with DJ.

Quote of the Day

As Susan, shaking in every limb, her torch shielded by her hand, crept into the passage leading to the museum, she paused. Oh, horrors! she thought, sniffing, I can smell those foul tumshies! They looked pretty when we popped back the wee lids, but jings, how they smell! At least, she added to herself a little nervously, at least I hope it's the tumshies and not some of our priceless exhibits in the museum!

From SUSAN'S TRYING TERM, Chapter 9, Jack-o'-Lanterns.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Paddy Turns Detective illustration

A scene from Chapter 1 of Paddy Turns Detective, Exit Sir Rupert. PTD was the first of the two Spitfire books by Jean Bell, published in 1967. There were at least 24 books in this series. The books are not aimed at any particular audience and cover themes attractive to both boys and girls, including science fiction, pony riding, mysteries and adventure stories. Other titles include four books by Jane Eliot: Afraid to Ride, Jacky Jumps to the Top Pony Club Camp and First Pony. Strangers in Space by Edwin Johnson, Commando by Adrian Corbett, Duel in the Snow by Angus Cleary and Last out of Burma by Alan Carter were also part of the series. The Spitfire books cost 1/- in the UK and 29 cents in the United States.

Quote of the Day

Elspeth interrrupted, "Ugh, nobody but daft scones like Kenneth bothers about who has the right to wear what tartan. Hundreds of Lowland Scots wear the kilt when they've no more right to wear it than you have. It's just that Kenneth's awful Hielan' sometmes. And it's an awful nice kilt, Penny; it's a real kilt, not just a tartan skirt - they're awful."
Penny thought with a sudden glow of gratitude that Elspeth was the nicest girl she had ever met.

From PENNY FOOLISH, Chapter 7, Penny Wears the Kilt.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Penhallow Mystery illustration

The first illustration from The Penhallow Mystery shows the Forrest family on their way to their new home in Hallow Haven in the north of Cornwall, described as being located "between Bude and Tintagel". Hallow Haven is probably based on Crackington Haven, which had already been used in the Moochers stories. In those books, the village is called Pendragon Haven. You can see a photo of Crackington Haven by clicking here.

Quote of the Day

The Forrest parents came back full of praise for the house. This was just as well, for by this time the family were wild to go. William said that if it couldn't be Greenland's icy mountains or India's corral strand, Cornwall would be better than nothing; Vivian said that she'd always wanted to live by the sea. As for Jane, who practically always had her nose in a book, she knew from her reading that Cornwall was a very romantic and desirable place to live. "Piskies, you know," she said to Vivian, "and mermaid and ogres and dragons and smugglers and things that go bump in the night-"
"What d'you mean?" asked Vivian suspiciously.
"There's a Cornish rhyme about ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night," said Jane in an eerie whisper.
"Now look here," said Vivian. "Just don't start any of your nonsense."

From THE PENHALLOW MYSTERY, Chapter 1, 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Breton Adventure (alternative boards)

Green boards for Breton Adventure with different sports and outdoor equipment, including a bicycle and a tent. My copy has much less equipment.

Quote of the Day

The meadows were decked with flowers, and the fruit trees were in blossom as they left Interlaken. "I knew it," said Sara with satisfaction: "we're not too early for the flowers, although every one at home said May was a silly time to come to Switzerland." Caroline thought that Grindelwald, being higher, would be more backward in the way of flowers; Vanessa, in a dream, ventured no opinion. Sara was jumping about like a cricket, one minute looking out at the flowers, the next gazing fascinated at the peaked cap of the guard who had come to have a look at their tickets, who was very handsome, and who spoke to them, with smiles, in very good English. "Fancy!" she said, after he had gone. "I thought Bob was an English name. I wonder if they all have their names on their caps - and fancy his being Bob!"
Vanessa looked at her vacantly, but Caroline snorted. "His name, you fathead! It's B.O.B., and it stands for Bernese Oberland Bahn."
"How dull!" said Sara, disappointed. "But you needn't be so snooty - I'd know just as much as you if I had that book."

From BERNESE HOLIDAY, Chapter 8, Switzerland at Last. This is one of the passages that were removed from the later edition.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bernese Holiday Frontispiece

Frontispiece from Bernese Holiday, depicting a scene in Chapter 16 when the girls recover the diamonds while fleeing from Slippery Sam and Nasty Nellie. Like the frontis for Breton Holiday, this one was drawn by A. H. Watson. However, the artist did not read the text very carefully. We see here Sara and Vanessa holding the Phllimore diamond necklace, but the text clearly states that when they find the jewels, they are loose. In fact, Sara makes a big deal of this at the beginning of Chapter 17. Furthermore, here we see the girls standing outside admiring the necklace. They actually examined the book in which the diamonds were hidden in the privacy of a bedroom at the hotel.

Quote of the Day

"What d'you want to drink, Sara?" asked John, giving his order to Madame, who had popped up again as the patronne of the café.
"Beer," said Sara. "I need it."
"You can't drink beer," said Vanessa in a rather scandalized voice.
Sara wanted to know why not, and Vanessa said she didn't know quite, but it wasn't the thing at all, and John said she was far too young, and Caroline said Sara wouldn't like it anyway because she shouldn't wonder it had an absolutely foul taste.
"Well, can I have some to try?" insisted Sara, showing alarming eagerness to become a toper.
"Yes," said John, "but if you don't like it I'm not ordering anything else."
"I'll have cider," said Sara....

From BERNESE HOLIDAY, Chapter 3, En Route. This passage was edited down for the reissue in 1953, with all references to beer removed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Breton and Bernese Holiday

On the left, the boards for Breton Holiday and on the right Bernese Holiday.

Contents of Bernese Holiday


Bernese Holiday and Bernese Adventure



Many people have on their bookshelves a copy of Breton Adventure and Bernese Adventure, published in 1953. These were reissues of Breton Holiday and Bernese Holiday, published in 1939 and 1940, respectively. The books gained a little extra publicity with the publication of a Sara and Caroline short story, Sara’s Adventure, in the 1953 Collins’ Girls’ Annual. In Susan and Friends, it is stated that both reissues were abridged versions of the original stories. Unlike the Adventures, which are very easy to find and very cheap, the originals are much thinner on the ground. It took me years of patient searching to find the originals. When I finally got hold of Breton Holiday, I compared it with the later edition and was disappointed to find that the only abridging that had been done was the removal of the dedication to Jane Shaw’s parents (To M.W.P. and J.P.). Breton Holiday begins on Page 9, as does the Adventure. However, in the 1953 edition, there are only two sheets of paper before Chapter 1, and it was obvious that the same plates were used for the reissue, without even bothering to correct the pagination. Bernese Holiday was a different state of affairs. Many changes were made to turn it into an Adventure. Last year, during a regular search on ebay, I was delighted to find a copy of this elusive book. At £40, it was approximately ten times the price of the reissue.

The first thing you notice when thumbing through Bernese Holiday is that it is much longer. The story begins on Page 9 and finishes on Page 252, with every chapter beginning on a fresh page. The Adventure begins on Page 9 and ends on Page 188, with new chapters sometimes beginning on a fresh page and sometimes beginning on the same page where the previous chapter ends. The next thing you notice is that Bernese Holiday has more chapters, and that the chapters have titles. In the Adventure, the book has a prologue, sixteen chapters (untitled) and an epilogue. The Holiday has a prologue, seventeen chapters (titled) and an epilogue. Another point to note is that the Adventure retains the dedication (To R.C.F.E – Robert Caldow Fleming Evans, Jane Shaw’s husband).

Now to the differences between the two editions. As for the number of chapters, there is no “missing” chapter as such. Chapters 11 and 12 are joined together for the Adventure, with some pages removed from Chapter 11 and a couple of lines from the beginning of Chapter 12. Chapter 11 of Bernese Adventure is very long (20 pages). In Bernese Holiday, its content is spread over Chapter 11 (Snow in Summer) and Chapter 12 (Sara the Renegade). The redacted pages are the last seven pages of Chapter 11 (from the bottom of Page 145 to Page 152). Sara gets out of bed and discovers that it has been snowing during the night. She wakens Caroline and they go down to breakfast “huddled as close to the dining-room stove as possible”. Vanessa and Caroline decide to write postcards. The next paragraph begins Two days later, the snow had gone, the sun came out again and the flowers reappeared. In Bernese Holiday, Caroline looks up from her postcards to find Sara gone. She goes out to look for her and finds her attempting to ski, doing considerable damage to John’s boots and trousers, which she has borrowed, in the process. Chapter 12 (Sara the Renegade) begins Two days later, the snow had gone, and so had John’s wrath, and all that was left to remind Sara of her skill on skis was stiff limbs and what she called the most awful bruises; but, in compensation, the sun came out again and the flowers reappeared... 

A few paragraphs are also removed from Chapter 8 (Switzerland at Last). On Page 83 of Bernese Adventure, a paragraph was removed from between the paragraphs that begin “I dunno,” said Caroline, then, overhearing, she added carelessly… and The meadows were decked with flowers… The redacted paragraph begins with At Interlaken, Vanessa fussily bundled them, and their baggage out of the train. This is on Page 106 of Bernese Holiday. A little farther down on the same page of Bernese Adventure, there is a paragraph that ends with the words the peaked cap of the guard who had come forward to look at their tickets. In Bernese Holiday (Page 107), this sentence continues: to look at their tickets, who was very handsome, and who spoke to them, with smiles, in very good English. Seventeen lines were removed, in which Sara and Caroline discuss the ticket collector’s cap and the scenery. The reason for this editing appears to be that it saves a whole page of paper (which was strictly rationed in the years following World War II). Chapter 8 finishes quite neatly almost at the bottom of Page 86, allowing Chapter 9 to begin on Page 87, a right-hand page. Another reason may be that there were changes in the Swiss railways. The redacted parts discuss the train routes and the guard’s uniform. Perhaps the routes had changed after 13 years and the guards no longer wore peaked caps.


One other change I noticed was in Chapter 3 (En route). In the original story, after the harrowing experience of buying petrol in Belgium, which involved a complicated calculation to change gallons into litres and English money into French francs and Belgian francs, the group retire to the café. When John asks Sara what she wants to drink, she claims that she “needs” a beer. Vanessa is shocked. Sara then shows “alarming eagerness to become a toper” (i.e., habitual drunkard). John actually offers to buy her a beer but tells her that if she doesn’t like it he won’t buy her anything else. Sara then asks for a cider. In the reissue, unsurprisingly, this passage is omitted, with Sara simply ordering a cider, with no reference to beer.

Quote of the Day

At this moment she had her back to Caroline and seemed to be trying to mount the slope, but, as each time she took a step she slid down again, she was not making a great deal of progress. Then something seemed to dawn on her, and she changed her tactics, and spreading out her skis sideways she began again. She took three successful steps, then unfortunately got her right ski crossed over her left one. She tugged at her left foot, but nothing happened; she tugged again, panting, with the same gratifying result. "Somebody's holding on to my ski," she muttered, and craned over her well-padded shoulder to see who it was. But this was too much for her precarious balance - it deserted her completely, and she pitched forward into the snow.

From BERNESE HOLIDAY, Chapter 11, Snow in Summer.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Penhallow Mystery


The Penhallow Mystery (back cover)


Paddy Turns Detective (back cover)


Paddy Turns Detective


The Jean Bell Spitfire Books

It has been a while since I last posted anything on the blog, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been making progress with Jane Shaw. In the last year, I have acquired both of the books published under the pen name of Jean Bell. They are tiny little books, aimed at a slightly younger audience than most of Jane Shaw's stories, maybe the same age group as the Thomas  books. Both stories were published in 1967 as part of the Spitfire series, with Collins going mass market and moving into paperback publishing. The two stories are mysteries. Paddy Turns Detective is set in a village in Kent. Penhallow Mystery, as the name suggests, is set in Cornwall. PTD is written in the first person, by Patricia (Paddy). PM is written in the third person. A third book. A Girl with Ideas, was written for the series, but was only published many years later in Susan and Friends. The photograph below, with both books alongside a regular Collins hardback, shows how tiny the little paperback volumes were. At only 1/-, the Spitfire books were also more affordable.




Quote of the Day

"He sat," said Vivian.
"Did he?" said Jane, amazed.
Siggy's one parlour trick was a very simple one. When he was expecting his dinner or a sweet or a biscuit he sat, gazing up meltingly and beseechingly with his toffee-ball eyes.
"Mm," said Vivian. "he did. I thought it was a bit odd---"
"I should jolly well think it was!" Jane agreed enthusiastically. "He never does that unless he's expecting a titbit! How jolly queer!"

From THE PENHALLOW MYSTERY, Chapter 4.