Saturday, 16 February 2013

Treasure Books

So, I've decided to have a clear out (again). And it's been fairly successful so far - quite a few old VHS tapes, some clothes and even one book (a stencil-and-tassel-your-entire-house tome from the eighties) have made it into the charity bag. But now here's the rub; I can accept I won't be young enough or thin enough to wear that white tiered skirt ever again, but can I really live without the books I cherished, and have kept through various house moves, in my youth and childhood?

Well, after much soul searching, I've decided on the whole that I can. My raison d'etre for keeping them was that my children might like to read them. But, with one or two exceptions (see below), it wasn't a successful strategy. This more sophisticated generation has a whole genre of  their own children's and young adult fiction to pick from, as well as numerous other distractions and somehow Enid Blyton holds little appeal. And perhaps, from any sensible perspective, that's no bad thing.

So, there's going to be a cull of the friendly spines I grew up with, which have been packed away for years in boxes in the cellar. But there are some I can't bear to part with:

My Naughty Little Sister Dorothy Edwards

I borrowed this series of books from the library so many times, I think I knew them word for word. I wanted a little sister so badly, but my Mum had other plans - allegedly I was the naughty little sister! I bought the set for my own daughters, and they were one of my few successes. They loved these affectionate stories of what one little girl got up to in her 1950s childhood, from digging up the garden to eating all the trifle, as much as I had.

Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder


I can remember having this read to me by my primary school teacher Mrs Cherry and it entranced me. I reread the series of Laura Ingalls Wilder books so many times, I'm surprised the pages haven't all fallen out. I gave it my highest accolade

I thought they were brave and pioneering but unfortunately my children's view was tainted by the over-sanitised TV series, repeated endlessly in their formative years.

The Wrong Chalet School Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

I first discovered the Chalet School books at my local library where I spend a lot of my childhood! I loved these 1950s tales of a girls' boarding school in the Tirol, unpacking your trunk in the dorm supervised by Matron sounded dashing and splendid to my primary school self. This book, where the school has moved to Wales for some reason, seems to be the only one I actually own. I'm sure I had more but I went through a phase of dropping them in the bath while reading.

The Railway Children E Nesbit

Ah, The Railway Children - what more needs to be said? Steam trains, red flannel petticoats and 'Oh, my Daddy, my Daddy!'

The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton

I didn't really get into Blyton's Famous Five books, but I adored this tale of summer holiday adventures on a mysterious island with secret passages and old copper mines, as well as all the other books in the series.These children had the sort of holidays I wanted! Similarly, I loved all the Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazon books - all borrowed from the library.

Little Women Louisa M. Alcott


Another classic that needs little introduction. I imagined myself as Jo March. And how I cried...

Ballet Shoes  Noel Streatfield

Like many little girls I longed to be a ballerina, but I wasn't allowed ballet lessons. The Fossil family were living my dream...

Watership Down Richard Adams

This book was really different from anything else I'd read at the time. I remember a real playground buzz about the epic adventures of Fiver, Hazel and co. - unlike most of my other favourites, boys enjoyed it too.

My bookplates were quite sophisticated here as well, thanks to my membership of The Puffin Club...

I Capture the Castle Dodie Smith and The L-Shaped Room Lynne Reid Banks

Both these books were a real influence in my teenage years. I seriously considered changing my name to Cassandra and longed for someone to fall hopelessly in love with me. Then I went through a historical fiction phase - borrowing Victoria Holt and Georgette Heyer from the library by the shed load. After that it was science fiction, raiding my brother's shelves for all his H G Wells, John Wyndam and Isaac Asimov books. The L-Shaped Room brought me back down to earth - reading from the other side of the swinging sixties attitudes already seemed anachronistic, but I loved the story of Jane's struggle - pregnant, unmarried and living in a squalid bedsit and of how her neighbours, especially the lovely Toby, gradually brought her back to life again.

So these are my Treasure Books - I'd love to hear about some of yours...


  1. Congrats on featuring in todays mumsnet new to the network email today with me. Be sure to drop by @afieldsomewhere

    1. Thank you, I certainly will - congratulations to you too!


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