February 26th, 2010

Girl's Own Annual

A Peep Behind the Scenes, Mrs O F Walton


I probably get to see about one in every six issues of The People’s Friend. One of its jollier features is called A Right Good Read, in which readers recommend books they’ve enjoyed. As you’d expect, these are often childhood favourites like Anne of Green Gables. In the copy in front of me now one reader praises Monica Dickens’ books One Pair of Hands & One Pair of Feet while a lady of ninety four loves The Old Curiosity Shop. I hope JD of East Sussex won’t mind me quoting from what was for me the most interesting letter:

‘I remember a charming little book from my childhood called A Peep Behind the Scenes, which my mother bought for me. She read it to me and later I used to read it on my own. … a few weeks ago I found a copy for sale on the internet and couldn’t resist buying it and enjoying it all over again.’

At the market one day I was looking at a particularly nice copy and the seller said, ‘Oh, that’s a lovely book! I’m only selling it because I’ve got my mother’s copy.’ A few weeks later I saw another one at a car boot sale when a complete stranger said, ’That’s a lovely book!’ and began talking about it. I sold a copy to someone in Canada who wanted it for her grandfather who ‘would be so happy to read this lovely book again.’ Obviously a much loved book, but why?
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