I love it when an old favorite of mine gets a new look and is brought back into print. This means I get to buy it again. I can't help myself. I need to have any book that I adore in all forms with all different covers. If this includes the chewable, chunky book I will buy that when available too.. Then my happiness continues because I get to force the book into other people's hands. Force might be the wrong word, maybe I really nag it into new hands. Nag, force...tomatoes, tomaaatoes as long as the job gets done.
Recently Bloomsbury U.S.A. re-issuedThe Brontes Went To Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson. Originally published in 1931 to good reviews and good sales it's been around ever since in different editions. The edition I first read was the one Virago had available in the 80's. I bought it off a sale table and was thrilled. I had gotten a good deal on a new book and the book had Bronte in the title. I had never heard of the book before and I certainly didn't bother to read the synopsis on the back cover before I purchased it, why would I? Bronte is a magical word.
Funny. As it turns out The Brontes Went To Wollworths is not about the Brontes at all. Who knew? It didn't matter. I was enchanted with it anyway. It's a lovely, picturesque, warm hearted novel set in London. The three Carne sisters. Innocents Deirdre, Katrine and Sheil have always had a vivid fantasy life. They live a bohemian chic life with their parent-ally absent Mother. When Mother gets jury duty Judge Toddington enters their games and stories. The sisters are delighted by the idea of the court and Toddington. However real life finally intrudes on the girls in the shape of Mrs Toddington. Will they grow up after all?
It sounds pretty slim doesn't it? It is but it is also charming and imaginative in the same way that I Capture The Castle is and the Betsy-Tacy novels are. Brontes is a coming of age novel in an age that probably never really existed, but that doesn't diminish your enjoyment of it. I can't tell you how many times over the years I've thought about Deirde's summing up of her least favorite type of book, “How I loathe that kind of novel which is about a lot of sisters. It is usually called They Were Sisters, of Three-Not Out, and one spends one’s entire time trying to sort them all, and muttering ‘Was it Isobel who drank, or Gertie? And which was it who ran away with the gigolo, Amy or Pauline? And which of their separated husbands was Lionel, Isobel’s or Amy’s?’” and laughing. I have thought of it when reading and ---sorry to say--- when being told a tale of woe by a girlfriend.
The Brontes Went To Woolworths is part of a new publishing program that Bloomsbury is calling its Bloomsbury Group. These are out of print books recommended for re-issue by readers. This link is from the U.K. site, I couldn't find a comparable U.S. site that would show all of the titles on one page but these titles are available in the U.S. Take a peak. They all look interesting and there is an address where you can suggest other titles for this program so as long as I am nagging let me tell you to do that too! Of course it's even easier to have your local, independent bookstore get them for you.
Happy to push my opinion.