Tuesday, April 4, 2017

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 cafĂ©. 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.