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I've looked for copies of this online and holy crackers is it expensive to buy! Alas my library doesn't have it. I'll live vicariously through blogs on this one.


I'm so glad you liked this book. It's one of my all-time favorites, and one I have often re-read!

I also want to read the Lehmann book, so I'm looking forward to seeing what you think about it. And I just got a book of Panter-Downes' stories at the library, so I've got some good reading ahead too!


Wow - wonderful review of what sounds like a rather complex (and intriguing) novel! I've heard of it before, but never considered reading it. I'll certainly watch out for a copy!

Dorothy W.

Well, this book sounds interesting! Too bad it's rather hard to find. The mix of reality and imagination does sound confusing, but also very fun. What an interesting person the author must be.


Sassymonkey--Yes, it's a little too steep for me too, at that price! I had to get it through ILL as no local library had it. If you do come across it, it is a fun read!
Kitty--I really like Mollie Panter-Downes and plan on reading more, though she didn't write much fiction. I'll try her short stories next, too. I wasn't sure at first about the Ferguson, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. I think it will make more sense and I'll get more details on another reading. Will keep my eyes out for a copy!
Litlove--It was very quirky--I liked it a lot. I wish Virago would bring it back into print--it's a shame that copies are so hard to find (and so expensive!).
Dorothy--It was a bit confusing at first, but really it's quite cleverly done. She does sound like she was quite intriguing as a person as well. I will have to see if I can get any of her other novels. I think Persephone might have published something by her as well.


The Woolworth's - is the the five and dime store that doesn't exist anymore in the US?

Catherine Delors

Sorry, Dani, this is off-topic, but I wanted to thank you for the great idea of a post on Gabrielle's childhood at the cottage.
I found the pictures for it! It should be ready shortly.
Thanks again.


Isabel--Yes, that's the one. I used to love Woolworths. I guess they still exist in the UK and a few other European countries. They were started here, though. It's a pity they all closed.
Catherine--Wonderful. I love having actual visuals when it comes to books. It's nice imaginging them, but so much nicer seeing what the author had in mind. I often go search of library books when I read a historical novel set in a foreign country (or that mentions actual historical figures or artwork)! Thanks for this series of posts you've been writing!


Alas, Woolworths and Kresge's no longer exist as far as i know today in the us. Another great thing lost that we can thank Walmart for! I grew up in a town with both a Woolworths (a big one with a second floor and a basement) and a Kresge's, and believe me, Walmart is no substitute. You could get just about anything from gold fish in a baggie to a quarter pound of hard candy to hardware and nailpolish at Woolworth's and they had great toys too! must read this book, thanks for reviewing!


Going to Woolworth's was a big treat for me! My mother would buy me an ice cream treat. I would go round and round on the stools and get dizzy.

This was before Baskin Robbin's came to New Orleans.


I've heard really good things about this book, but it does sound terribly confusing. That's why I wasn't sure if I wanted to give it a try or not.


This sounds like a very interesting, and I mean that in a good way, book. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for a copy and if one doesn't turn up, hopefully my library will have it.


Cintronyella--We had Kresge's here, too. I have a vague memory of going with my grandma on the bus downtown to Kresge's when I was very little. It's a shame that there are no more five and dimes. I think we've lost something by only having stores that are part of big corporations rather than family owned and run stores! But I guess that's the way things are going.
Isabel--My Woolworth story (I actually already mentioned this in another comment section--not sure if you saw it)--I would go with my mom and sister to the restaurant in Woolworths and always order the frankfuter (not the hot dog mind you!), and it came in this funky, square bun! I loved it.
Lisa--It's worth a read if you can find a copy to borrow. It is confusing at first, but she drops enough clues as you go to make sense of things. I think I'd get more out of it with another reading as well.
Stefanie--It is a quirky read, but in a very good way. It was so clever--I love what she was doing. I hope your library has a copy...and there is always ILL! Mine came from Houston.

Jay Young

I managed to get a falling-apart Penguin wartime copy of this about four years ago on abebooks for something like seven dollars. Must have been a fluke though -- the cheapest current copy going there is $32.

I had initially read this in the early 1980s after Kathleen Wallace cited it in Immortal Wheat along with Ferguson's later book Evenfield which I haven't been able to find anywhere. Another book worth reading about the emotions behind the creation of places like Angria and Gondal is Life and Private History of Emily Jane Bronte by Wallace's college roommate Romer Wilson.

The closest thing to a dime store or variety stores nowadays is the dollar store or 99c store. I imagine that somewhere along the line there'll be a revival. I just hope we're still around when it happens.


Jay--Lucky you to find a copy so cheap. I'd be glad to get one that's even falling apart! I'll just keep looking. Thanks for the other reading suggestions. I've wanted to get some of Ferguson's other books. I wonder if I would have any luck with Evenfield if I tried to find a copy through interlibrary loan (how I got The Brontes... in the first place). I remember Woolworths--unfortunately the Dollar Store lacks the personality--don't you think. I'd love to see a revival of a true five and dime (well, in feeling if not in actual price anyway). Thanks for leaving your comment!

Jay Young

Oh yeah, most dollar stores don't have nearly the personality of the old dime-stores. Despite the fact that most of them seemed to be part of a chain, each one had a local or personal touch and you could always tell. The smell of popcorn and cotton candy can put me right back into 1965.

I checked interlibrary loan and we can get five of her books, but not Evenfield. I'll keep looking.

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