Reader's Advice

Visiting Old Friends Jun 06, 2014

cornershop.jpgThis summer I am planning a visit to some old friends. I want to reread the books I grew up with, or grew old  with.  They are gentle, perhaps naive by today’s views, but they have endured, like their readers, through many hard times.  I think I will begin with Elizabeth Cadell.  She has an amazing ability to take perfectly ordinary people, irritating and eccentric people, dull and timid people and make them both interesting and likable.  Her stories reflect the clashes of rank, culture, and especially personalities. The Corner Shop is generally considered her best, but my favorites are Canary Yellow and The Toy Sword

In The Toy Sword, Edmund is a serious and practical London architect.  He is successful, well connected and self-satisfied.  He is engaged to the equally successful and self-satisfied Angela.  Edmund’s one soft spot is his Portuguese estate.  It is under its mellowing influence that he encounters the Nash family.  Fran Nash is independent, hardworking, and inclined to rescue people. She is caring for her orphaned brother and sister; the residents, mostly foreign, at her boarding house; and will soon intercede on behalf of Edmond’s elderly aunts.  Eventually she may manage to rescue Edmond.

Elizabeth Cadell was born in 1903 in India where she grew up. She spent much of her adult life in Portugal and many of her books are set there. An orphan and widow with two children she turned to writing as a better alternative to “the system of coming to work at this time and going home at that time.” Her 52 novels, even though they contain elements of mystery and intrigue, are light hearted and humorous reflections of British romance.

- Janet Twigg, Reference Librarian

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