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I have read a couple of Joyce Cary books -- The Horse's Mouth and A House of Children -- but he's not really one of my favorites. I haven't sought out anything else by him, but I wouldn't rule out reading him again if something interesting fell into my hands.

Also, thanks for mentioning the FitzOsbourne books - I enjoyed (but wasn't head-over-heels) the first one and have just finished the second, which I liked a lot more. I am eagerly anticipating the third, due out this summer, I think...


I haven't read anything but have always been intrigued by his book called The Horse's Mouth. I have no idea what it's about, just find the name odd. I do have a memoir of his on the tbr, Memoir of the Bobotes, about his experiences as a stretcher bearer with the Red cross during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. If you're interested in evacuee stories you might like Doreen by Barbara Noble (Persephone). It's the story of a girl sent from London to a childless couple in the country. They eventually want to adopt Doreen & her mother has a real struggle to decide what would be the best thing for her daughter. It's very good.


Kitty--Thanks--I was curious about Joyce Cary. I seem to have read favorable responses to his work, but nothing really gushing so was wondering. I do like the sound of the two I mention here, so maybe I'll give him a try. And glad you enjoyed the FitzOsborne book--I just finished the first one earlier this week. I very much enjoyed it, but it did have a slow start. I think the second one sounds very good and have it (as you can see) on my pile to start reading soon. Not sure exactly the date the release of the third book, but I hope it isn't too far off! :)

Lyn--I like the titles as well--they are enough to make you look. He does seem to have had an interesting life and I read a little about his time with the Red Cross--I know my library has books of criticism about his work and maybe his bio, too. I had forgotten about Doreen--that's one I don't own and sounds like something I would like. I've not read anything about evacuees--so that is a new aspect to the war that I will have to explore--thanks for the reminder!


I had never heard of him, either. A Fearful Joy sounds more appealing to me, as I love stories about "exceptional women" especially ones who go against societal expectations. (Wonder what that says about me?)


Never heard of him and am quite surpsried it's a woman.
I meant to ask you, are you actually reading all these lost in the stacks books our just dipping in, sort of?
English-Irish-Nigerian is quite a mix.


Seconding Doreen, a very good read.


Kathy--I like the sound of a Fearful Joy, too, which is why I had to bring it home as well. I love strong women characters and love the period, so it seems like a perfect book to try!

Caroline--I wish I could read each and every one of these books, but I have only read a handful. There are many that I want to go back and pick up and read properly--I usually will read just bits of the stories. In a few cases I've actually bought my own copy to have on hand for when I can squeeze them in. But I'm just not a fast enough reader and if I do one post a week I can't keep up! I initially started checking these out as my library has been doing lots of weeding and some of it is based on check out stats--if a book has not been circulated in more than ten years it has a better chance of being de-selected and discarded (because it is State of Nebraska property it cannot be sold off--it has to be recycled--which is a painful thought to me). So my idea was to try and find the really good books (and I never will be able to do so-even if I check out a couple each week) in order to get them circulating and hopefully save them from the recycle bin. Hopefully that doesn't sound too weird--I know weeding can be a very good thing, but there are so many really good books in our collection I would hate to see them discarded before I have a chance to find and read them! So this has been my little ongoing project--whew--that was a long answer to your question! :)

Kitty--I am so close to putting Doreen in the virtual basket at The Book Depository--it is at least added to my wishlist. I would love to read it eventually!


Thanks, Danielle, I knew about the checking out but had forgotten about the recycling... It seems cruel, would the not give the away? If someone would like to have them?
I order quite a lot with amazon marketplace these days and out of let's say 20 books I received 10 from libraries. What was surprising was looking at the little pares with the dates they often leave. I've got a book by Margo Lanagan from Chelsea public library. It was never requested. The book came out in 2006. I got it fro 3£ in 2011. They sell them even before or do you think they are stolen property? I wonder that very often.


I've never heard of him, or of any man being called Joyce before - how intriguing! I seem to be noticing a lot of books - non-fiction - about evacuees coming out. Naturally I can't recall any of the titles while I'm typing this, but I've seen a couple in the book stores recently. It's a hot topic!

Jean |

Thank you for once again introducing me to a new-to-me author. Can't believe I've never heard of him! I plan to start with A Fearful Joy.


Caroline--It's sort of weird how the weeding goes. A lot of the books are old academic texts that I suspect most people wouldn't want, but fiction and art books are something else entirely. Because we are funded by state taxes I think there is some rule about not being able to sell the discards for a profit, which is why they get recycled. However, for a while we were sending certain discards to Better World Books as they were then only a donation and hopefully ended up being given to other schools in other parts of the world (am not sure exactly how that worked), but we stopped doing that as we're understaffed and work space was tight. If there was a chance I could buy some of the books I would feel less bad, but no one is allowed to take or buy any books--again I guess it's because it is state property--and they are very particular about this rule. Most of the collection has been pretty thoroughly weeded (since we are constantly getting in new books but our space remains the same--we have to make room for the growth), but the fiction area has more or less been spared--I know that its turn is coming however. Initially I was just going to check out and read whatever I could and hope that it would help the circulation stats--I hadn't really planned on posting about the books, but it was fun to learn about the authors, and who knows maybe someone else would be tempted to read the book and enjoy it as well. I also buy a lot of second hand books and some of them have been library discards so I know other libraries do it, but I guess each has their own rules. And yes, sadly a lot of books never do get checked out or haven't been checked out in many, many years. So in a way it's a toss up--maybe the books are simply forgotten and deserve to be pulled but I still feel there are all sorts of hidden gems up there (on our third floor) that deserve to be rediscovered and read. Can you tell this is something I've thought a lot about?! :)

Litlove--I guess it's like Evelyn being both masculine and feminine, but Joyce was a new one for me. Certain subjects seem to be popular all at once, don't they? If you think of any of the recent titles you've come across do let me know as I am curious now about them. Not that I need more books for my reading pile, but...

Jean--I had seen the Joyce Cary books on the shelves before--we have quite a few of them, but I never got around to pulling them off the shelf and looking at them properly. He does sound good--and I also like the sound of A Fearful Joy. Maybe I'll go crack it open myself later and start reading!

Simon T

I've got one or two of his books but not read any - Herself Surprised is in every charity shop in England, it seems, so it must have been big once. I've actually seen all of his own personal books - he donated them to the Bodleian.


I have never heard of Joyce Cary before. When I run across characters named Charley (or Charlie) Brown, I have been foreverr ruined by Peanuts cartoons and have a hard time imagining him being daring!


Simon T--How interesting. I was wondering about him--I'd not come across his books elsewhere. I guess he must have been quite popular at once time to have so many copies floating around. I wonder what sorts of books he read--how cool that you've seen his personal library!

Stefanie--Charlie Brown crossed my mind, too! It is hard trying to keep Charlie out of mind when reading about Charley! :)

Paul Schloss

The Horse's Mouth is the third volume of a trilogy, which for me is one of the highlights of modern British fiction.

Herself Surprised is the first volume. It is a first person narrative of a self-deceiving woman who has a comically limited outlook on life. She is in love with an artist, which gets her into all sorts of trouble.

To be a Pilgrim is the second volume. The narrator is the rich son of a liberal establishment family. He is in love with the narrator of the first volume but is too timid to proposition her. Most of the book is a wonderful evocation of the rise and fall of liberal England from the late 19th century to the second world war.

The third volume is a stunner. Gulley Jimson is one the great comic characters in fiction. He sees the world through William Blake and bright vivid colours, which he describes in extraordinary language. So bright and vivid does he see the world that he turns it into a series of cartoons.

All three narrators have very distinctive voices, and all are not very reliable. The language in all three books is very rich, and precise. In The Horse's Mouth it takes off. A real firework display.


Hi Paul,

Thanks so much for the run down on these books. I must see if I can track them down--my library might even have them so will check that out tomorrow when I am there. They do all sound good, and this is a period I never seem to tire of reading about!

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