A melancholy list of my most lusted after but elusive titles:
any novel besides Mrs. Lorimer's Family
Molly Clavering, a friend and neighbor of D. E. Stevenson, published at least a dozen novels of her own, but only one, Mrs. Lorimer's Family (1953), seems to have achieved enough popularity (and reprints) to remain available today. It's charming and funny and deserves to be on the same shelf as Stevenson herself, but sightings of any of Clavering's other novels anywhere outside the British Library are as few and far between as really good Nicole Kidman movies…
[I did buy a copy of the Valancourt reprint of He Arrived at Dusk, and was very pleased with the quality of the reprint. Valancourt does excellent work. Sadly, though, I couldn't quite engage with the book and have concluded that Ferguson's other mysteries may just not be for me. Perhaps sometimes the hopelessness of a book is more tantalizing than the book itself?]
the unpublished novels
Maybe it's just because they're so hopeless (never published at all does tend to trump out-of-print for sheer obscurity value), or maybe it's because Gibbons has gradually become one of my favorite writers since Vintage started reprinting some of her lesser known works a year or two ago. Either way, the novels of Gibbons's older years, The Yellow Houses (finished about 1973) and An Alpha (finished about 1980) appear to combine elements of fantasy and spirituality and seem well worthy of publication.
virtually everything except There Were No Windows
A Room in Regent's Park (1942)
The Death of the Nightingale (1948)
Two of Miller's works, Farewell Leicester Square (1941), about anti-Semitism in London, and On the Side of the Angels (1945), about gender relations in wartime, have been reprinted—the former by Persephone, the latter by Capuchin (and by Virago in the 1980s)—and both are lovely and well worth reading. Unfortunately, these two other novels published around the same time have not been so lucky and are out of circulation in
Ding Dong Dell (1943)
None of her novels are very readily available, but this wartime novel that deals with evacuees seems to have vanished from the face of the earth—or at least from
|Finding E. Nesbit's The Lark is no, er, lark|
[No longer hopeless thanks to the kindness of Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book. See my review here for details.]
[No longer hopeless, and, alas, below is not at all an accurate description of the book! I was able to find a reasonably-priced used copy, though I haven't yet gotten around to reading it, but I did discover that it is set pre-war, NOT during the Blitz. Apologies for my misleading description below, which was based on a rather poorly-worded blurb in a short bio of Pargeter. Still hard to believe the book hasn't been reprinted, in light of Pargeter's popularity overall, but it's at least easier to understand why the interest in home front lit hasn't triggered a reprint.]
|Virtually every book Edith Pargeter |
wrote is a dime a dozen--except one
the World War II novels
Although her children's fiction has remained perennially popular, and her largely disacknowledged "romance" novels under the pseudonym Susan Scarlett are almost entirely back in print thanks to Greyladies, only one of Streatfeild's non-romance novels for adults has been reprinted in recent years—Saplings (1945), reprinted by Persephone (bless their hearts). Her other novels, particularly the wartime works The Winter Is Past (1940) and I Ordered a Table for Six (1942), are tantalizing in their apparently total unavailability.
the early novels
Another odd oversight. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938) is Persephone's top selling reprint and a really wonderful, charming masterpiece of entertainment and inspiration, but her several other novels—Fell Top (1935), Odd Shoes (1936), Upyonder (1938), and Leave and Bequeath (1943)—remain extinct outside the preserves of the British Library.
A whole slew of other promising World War II novels
The proliferation of novels by women writers during World War II, combined with paper shortages and other wartime factors, inevitably resulted in a lot of perfectly fine novels becoming impossibly scarce way before their time. These include: Hester Chapman's Long Division (1943), mentioned by Barbara Pym in her diaries of the time; The House Opposite (1943) by Barbara Noble, who also wrote the great Persephone find Doreen (1946); Ruth Adam's one and only mystery novel Murder in the Home Guard (1942); Marjorie Wilenski's Table Two (1942), which a contemporary review tells me follows the experiences of a group of elderly women translators in the early days of the Blitz; Tea and Hot Bombs (1943) by Lorna Lewis, also set during the Blitz; and Richmal Crompton's Mrs. Frensham Describes a Circle (1942), the plot of which apparently revolves around refugees. These are all about as rarely spotted as an Abbott's Booby.
|Richmal Crompton, author of the elusive Mrs. Frensham Describes a Circle|