Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quote of the Day

The tea could hardly be called an unqualified success. Mrs. Taylor had, fortunately, made piles of sandwiches, and the little Wilsons spooned eagerly at the extra-rich rock cakes, but after one bite of the  beautiful frosted layer-cake, Charlotte noticed that they unobtrusively put down their slices. She couldn't help feeling slightly offended, and passed the plate of iced cinders.  They didn't look at all bad, she thought, although she had had a lot of trouble with the icing - first it wouldn't set, and then it set too much and was now as hard as bricks.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Places in Jane Shaw: Dulwich Park

This is the entrance to Dulwich Park on College Road. In the books, the Carmichaels have their own entrance to Wichwood Park. The park is especially featured in Susan Pulls the Strings and No Trouble for Susan, where the children go skating and Susan and Bill flee the wrath of the angry Major Banks.

Quote of the Day

Midge leant forward and peered through the window too. "Oh, my giddy aunt!" she said. "Here come the subordinate Clauses!"
For coming up the street was a small, round, cheerful Father Christmas, in full regalia; and at the same moment a very tall thin one roared up on a motor scooter. They both stepped outside the bookshop and glared at each other.
Susan said, "Am I suddenly seeing double or something? Where did they come from? Who are they?"
"Well, the big one is David Hepburn," said Midge, "I'd know those feet aywhere. And the little one must be Jeremy Vernon. I suppose this is to curry favour with Charlotte."

From NO TROUBLE FOR SUSAN, Chapter 7, Surfeit of Santas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Places in Jane Shaw: Lullingstone Castle

This is the gatehouse to Lullingstone Castle in Kent. Aunt Lucy took Susan, the Carmichaels and the Gascoignes to this castle to visit the silk farm that it housed in Susan Rushes In. Peregrine stuffed lots of silkworms into the pockets of Susan's blazer. Everyone was surprised at the ravenous behavior of the "voracious little creatures".

Quote of the Day

Jennifer didn't expect to enjoy Christmas, she didn't see how anyone could in this blazing sun; but Mrs. Eliot said that although she was a lover of snow and robins, nobody more so, it was certainly much easier to do one's shopping in the comfort of the sunnier weather; and the others all said loudly that Christmas was Christmas, and it didn't make any difference what the weather was like, and at least in this climate you were spared the worry of a last-minute cold coming on you and cheating you out of all the festivities.

From VENTURE TO SOUTH AFRICA, Chapter 10, Christmas Holidays.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Buried Treasures 8

The cover of Venture to South Africa. The Elliot family arriving at Cape Town on the Dumbarton Castle.

Quote of the Day

The dinner table was a dream. In the centre of the table was a tiny, real Christmas tree with miniature decorations and candles and crackers and even parcels on it; trails of holly led from the tree to little golden angels (which had been painted by Charlotte and cut out by Bill on his fretsaw) holding up red candles. There were crackers piled round the foot of the tree and they were gold and green and red too. And after they had finished eating the delicious Christmas food, there was a present for everyone off the little tree.

From SUSAN PULLS THE STRINGS, Chapter 4, A Blow for Bill.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Threepenny Bit illustration

An illustration from Chapter 5 of Threepenny Bit, Showers of Pennies. Penny and Jill, along with Laura and John Mallory meet Marietjie. Although the caption mentions the four children, John doesn't appear. We can only assume that he is behind the door waiting for the others to file in.

Quote of the Day

Holy smoke!" said Midge. "It's Major Banks!"
Bill groaned. "Holy smoke," he said. "We're in the wrong house!"
Well, that situation took a bit of straightening out. Major Banks was a sort of village ogre, feared by all the Wichwood children for his fiery rages and stern persecution of young jokers, apple-stealers and such-like. None the better for that crack on the head, he thought for quite some time that he was the victim of a gang, half of whom were singing carols at his front door as a distraction while the other half made a burglarious entrance at the back; when he discovered that the gang were his own doctor's children and their cousin, his rage know no bounds. Midge, Bill and even Susan couldn't get a word in edgewise, couldn't even begin to explain.

From NO TROUBLE FOR SUSAN, Chapter 8, Carol-Singing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Paddy Turns Detective

In 1967, under the pen name of Jean Bell, Jane Shaw published two books for the Collins Spitfire series. Here is the cover of Paddy Turns Detective. The other book was The Penhallow Mystery, which you can read about in an earlier post by clicking here. The author also wrote A Girl With Ideas as Jean Bell, although this story was only published in 2002 in Susan and Friends. Both A Girl With Ideas and the two Spitfire books were aimed at younger readers and it may be that Collins was planning to relaunch her career. However, she continued to publish as Jane Shaw too, writing the last Susan books and Brer Rabbit before retiring in 1969.

Quote of the Day

Miss Perry, glancing round the form, saw Ricky's studiously bent head, which was enough in itself to make her suspicious. She paused in what she was telling the form to say in her sarcastic way, "Erica has, I suppose, such a thorough knowledge of the causes of the French Revolution that she doesn't need to listen?"
Ricky, absorbed in her cutting, paid no attention.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wichwood Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery is featured as Wichwood Gallery in the plot of Susan Rushes In, when Susan, Midge and Pea-green foil a robbery there, although Peregrine gets all the credit in the local newspaper. The Gallery is described in Chapter 13:

Opposite the Carmichaels' house there was a small but quite famous picture gallery. The Carmichaels - naturally, seeing that they lived opposite - had scarecely ever been in it, but as children their nanny had often taken them into the very pretty garden which surrounded it.

Jane Shaw Encylopedia: T. I. S. Harrison

T. I. S. "Tizzy" Harrison is the Children's Book Editor at Hamilton Press and a friend of Selina Gascoigne. In Susan Rushes In, Midge writes a story called The Greedy Dragon and Charlotte adds illustrations to it. At Mrs. Gascoigne's suggestion, Charlotte submits The Greedy Dragon to Hamilton Press using the pen name of Marjorie Charlotte Carmichael. Mr. Harrison buys the story for ten guineas. He also expresses interest in any other stories about the same dragon, believing that it would be possible to build a small series. 

Quote of the Day

Midge refused to have anything further do do with the Gascoignes that day - or any day for that matter - as she had enough of them she said to last her a lifetime. She also refused to let Susan off the rest of the washing-up in order to rush in and remind Pea-green about the silkworms' diet. However, she couldn't do anything to stop her going next door after the washing-up was finished. But when Susan knocked at the Gascoignes' front door and inquired for Peregrine, Gabrielle said that he was in bed.
"Stomach-ache again?" said Susan tactlessly.
Gabrielle looked at her coldly. "Peregrine is a very highly strung and temperamental child," she said. "All the excitement to-day has made him sick."

From SUSAN RUSHES IN, Chapter 13, A New Career for Charlotte.

Friday, December 7, 2012

11 College Road/10 Tollgate Road

Yesterday I took to Google Maps and went for a walk along College Road, or Tollgate Road as it is called in the Susan books. This is a photograph of the house at Number 11, where Jane Shaw lived during her time in London. She did not occupy the whole house, only the flat on the top floor. However, in the Susan books, the Carmichaels had the whole house at 10 Tollgate Road to themselves. The house is a character itself in the books. One woman even told me that it was her ideal house while she was growing up. I recently commented about how Jane Shaw made her settings more compact to create a cosy feeling. This is especially true of Dulwich/Wichwood. College Road is very long and the walks that the characters go for would have taken a good deal longer in real than they do in the stories and would justify Midge's reluctance to be dragged around the village by Susan.

Quote of the Day

And that was the end of the adventure; next day we met Aunt Maddy and Uncle James - looking rather pale - at Interlaken and from then on, our holiday ran on more usual lines. But very nice lines - trips on the lake, excursions up the mountains, cream-cakes and 'caffy-glassys' in Interlaken.

From THE TALL MAN, Chapter 9, The End of the Adventure.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Magic Ships illustration

Jane and Robin are back in the playroom of the Queen Mary, reunited with their father and Uncle Archie, after their adventures on the seven seas. Magic Ships is a book for very young readers and was published in 1943. It is printed on high quality paper and lavishly illustrated. The name of the artist is not given. 

Quote of the Day

Amanda sniffed. Elizabeth, she thought, was all too prone to attach a false importance to mundane things like food. Was her country's fate nothing to her? But, all the same, Amanda suffered herself to be led to where their little rowing-boat was beached, and graciously permitted Elizabeth to row her down the Loch towards the house and lunch.

From AMANDA'S SPIES, Jane Shaw's first short story, published in 1941.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Recurring Themes in Jane Shaw: Hidden Paintings

From the late 1950s to the end of her career, art featured heavily in Jane Shaw's work. Looking After Thomas was about a daring art robbery at the Louvre. A painting by or thought to be by the French artist Maurice Utrillo was part of the plot of Crooks' Tour, The Picture and A Job for Susan. In the latter book, the Lyles' landlady is the grand-daughter of a respected artist and his work also features in the story. In other books, the characters  visit galleries in Paris and Venice. Charlotte Carmichael is a gifted artist and ends up going to Perugia to study art professionally. So, paintings are definitely a major plot device in the works of Jane Shaw. She also wrote about an aspect of art that has been included in many children's books over the years: hidden paintings.

Many masterpieces have been found hidden under other paintings by impoverished artists wishing to economize on materials. For example, experts estimate that around one third of Van Gogh’s early paintings have hidden treasures underneath. More recently, lost masterpieces by N. C. Wyeth and Rembrandt have also been found. The hidden masterpiece, perhaps inevitably, due to her penchant for long-lost treasure, worked its way into two Jane Shaw stories: Susan and the Home-made Bomb and Susan’s Trying Term.

In Susan’s Trying Term, when Susan, Midge and Tessa are cleaning out and reorganizing the school museum, they come across an old painting of a hunting scene. Midge thinks the painting is horrible because the horses’ legs are too long. But Susan thinks that if the picture is cleaned up, it will look better. Therefore, she decides to "restore" it by wiping it with a handkerchief soaked in turpentine. Lo and behold, the top layer of paint is removed and another painting is partially revealed underneath. Midge and Tessa are afraid that they might get into trouble for ruining the painting and suggest that it should be dumped back into the cupboard where it was found so that it might remain forgotten by the school authorities. But Susan, with her characteristic  honesty, insists that they have to own up, and the girls take the painting to Miss Phillimore. The headmistress suspects that it is a masterpiece by the 17th century Dutch artist Peter de Hooch. The painting is given to Lady St. Ronan, who invites the girls to tea to thank them and announces that the painting is worth twenty thousand pounds.

In Susan and the Home-made Bomb, hard-up Jennifer Harding needs money to support herself while she studies at the Sloane School of Art. Gabrielle Gascoigne says she can introduce Jennifer to the director of the school and accompanies Susan and the Carmichaels to tea at the Harding house. Peregrine goes along with them and plants his home-made bomb in the drawing room. The bomb explodes and the explosion causes the lustres to shatter. A shard of glass streaks across a painting on the wall. Jennifer thinks she sees another picture underneath. It turns out to be a Fra Angelico, worth a small fortune. Jennifer can go to the Sloane and all the Hardings’ problems are solved

The comic nature of these finds is obvious. Uncovering hidden paintings is an intricate and painstaking process that can only be done by experts. That a masterpiece could be found by wiping a painting with a turpentine-soaked rag is unbelievable. That a shard of flying glass could simply rip off the first coat of paint and unveil the one underneath without damaging either it or the canvas is even more incredible. These are further examples of the author's subtle sense of humour.

Quote of the Day

Susan had never skated before, but she was longing to try - it looked so graceful and so easy. At lunch-time Aunt Lucy wondered whether she ought, after being in bed, but Uncle Charles seemed to think that it would be all right if she didn't get overheated and so get another chill.
"Overheated!" thought Susan later, lying on her back on the ice for the twentieth time, "I shall die of exposure. And be glad to-"

From SUSAN PULLS THE STRINGS, Chapter 8, The Empty House Next Door.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fara pa färde, Fifi!

Here's a Swedish book that I hadn't seen before, Fara pa färde, Fifi! (Susan Rushes In). We can see the scene where Susan cuts Pea-green's hair and is interrrupted by the furious Selina. The title means Danger Lurks Ahead, Fifi.

Quote of the Day

Caroline, assisted by the accused, apologised to the gendarme as well as she could for troubling him and lamely explained that there had been a mistake and that Monsieur the thief was a very old friend. The representative of law and order unwillingly took himself off, followed by the disappointed crowd who had expected great things of this little affair, the taxi was paid off, and the Man of Mystery sat down on the running-board beside Sara.
"Thank you for not handing me over to the police, Sara," he said gravely. "Now will you tell me what I'm supposed to have done?"

From BRETON HOLIDAY, Chapter 14, Capture of a Car Thief.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Squero

When Antonio, the gondolier who comes to Susan and Midge's rescue in Venice, justifies the high price of a gondola ride, he tells the girls that one day he will take them to the squero so that they can see how much the upkeep of a gondola costs. Susan accepts this invitation, although she has no idea what a squero is. The girls learn later that it is a sort of workshop for gondolas and they visit the Squero San Trovaso with Pea-green later in the story.

Jane Shaw 102 & Quote of the Day

Today is Jane Shaw's 102nd birthday. Happy birthday, and thanks for the wonderful stories. Now the Quote of the Day.

Fiona gave a  hollow laugh and felt in the pocket of her dress in case some method of disguising herself might miraculously have come there. She could find only her sun-glasses, but she put them on. "I can't see a thing," she said, but felt glad, all the same, of the slight, if false, sense of security they gave her. Katherine glanced at her and began to giggle. The agent de police was almost upon them.
"What are you doing down there?' he demanded in an extremely fierce voice.
"Nothing. Nothing at all," said Fiona. Fortunately she knew the French for that.

From THE MOOCHERS ABROAD, Chapter 7, Eclairs.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bernese Holiday

I wonder what the original reaction was when Bernese Holiday was published in 1940. Britain was at war with Germany, and yet here is this book being published that describes a chase around Europe, including Germany, with lots of nice Germans receiving their British guests well, politely serving them and putting them up in their hotels, etc. The London Blitz began on the 7th of September, 1940. I can't imagine that anything German would have been popular at that time. I also wonder whether Collins had any qualms about publishing the story during World War II. I suppose that after a year of preparation, they decided to go ahead anyway. I'd like to see a review of the book to gauge people's reactions at the time.

Places in Jane Shaw: Bridge of Sighs

Susan and Midge cross the Bridge of Sighs several times in Where is Susan? One of the things I like most about Jane Shaw's writing is that she manages to create a cosy feeling for any location, even a big city. This is done subtly, but also in a very simple way: she merely reduces distances. In Starting From Glasgow: Jane Shaw's Scotland, Alison Lindsay points out that in The Crew of the Belinda, "the Macfarlanes' morning row up to Tarbet and Inveruglas would have taken several hours more than the book suggests." Distances also seem to be cut in Anything Can Happen, where I get the impression that Paris is made out to be smaller than it really is. Everywhere seems to be just a minute's walk from everywhere else. On the other hand, in Crooks' tour, Paris comes across as much larger, bustling and confusing, as it would have to be to meet the exigencies of the plot. But in Venice, Midge and Susan cover a lot of ground and water in a very short time. The same goes for Wichwood Village, which also comes across as very small and cosy, although the actual walking that the children do would take much longer in real life. The only true exceptions to this rule are the two books set in South Africa (Venture to South Africa and Nothing Happened After All). In these stories, the author goes out of her way to make sure that the reader understands the huge distances involved in driving from place to place. In the other story that involves a lot of driving, Bernese Adventure, the distances seem to be reduced a little, as the characters zip around Europe in the battered old Major Morris.  

Jane Shaw Quiz 100

The answer to Quiz 100: St. Ursula's Court is owned by Mr. Gauntlett.

Quote of the Day

Usually Susan heard them, or sensed them, long before they reached the dog-deck and set up a welcoming howl. But today there was no sound from her. The Eliots clattered up the ladder and stopped, aghast, at the top. Susan's kennel was gone!

From VENTURE TO SOUTH AFRICA, Chapter 5, The Journey Ends.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Jane Shaw Quiz 100

In the Penny books, who owns St. Ursula's Court?

The answer to Quiz 99: Charlotte's craze in Susan's Helping Hand is collecting china.

Quoe of the Day

Sir Walter went purple again. "I'm being insulted by this, this girl---," he spluttered.
"Why, Susan!" said Gabrielle in a shocked voice. "This is Sir Walter Chillinghurst, the Minister of Fine Arts!"
"I don't care who he is," cried Susan, "he's a-- he's a-- butcher!"
Adrian and Gabrielle glared at Susan and hastily drew Sir Walter on one side, and the Carmichaels gathered round Susan. They could hear Sir Walter, still bright purple, muttering furiously to the Gascoignes, "Never heard such impertinence in my life..."

From SUSAN MUDDLES THROUGH, Chapter 11, By Heather Tracks.