?

Log in

No account? Create an account
gertrude

December 2018

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Barbara

Ann Bridge



First, a word of hope for all those who, like me, are forever moaning about how hard it is to find old books these days. I picked up this very nice copy of The Dangerous Islands at the weekend for 50p. This is my reward for always being on the lookout. I now find it’s rather a scarce title, which makes it an even more pleasing find.

There’s a bibliography of Ann Bridge’s books on the invaluable Fantastic Fiction site. Although she wrote an autobiography, there’s still no biography of her that I know of and not even a Wikipedia entry. Her papers are held in Austin, Texas.



Mary O’Malley was married to a diplomat, which gave her the background for her first and still her most famous book, Peking Picnic. It’s a story about diplomats in China and chronicles a way of life which has pretty much vanished for both the Chinese and those in the Diplomatic. Laura Leroy, the book’s heroine, is beautiful and charming and readers seem to have fallen in love with her and with the atmospheric descriptions of the country. The book was a wild success; it was even compared with A Passage to India. I find I have three copies in different editions and it’s still in print, in a new Capuchin edition. I hope someone there is sacked for letting the book go to print with the author's name wrongly spelled on the cover!

Ann Bridge’s husband had a successful career (with one major crisis which she got him out of) but he seems to have been an ineffectual sort of person compared with his wife and she became the main bread-winner, writing more than twenty books. In all of them she made good use of her travels, writing about places which were exotic to her readers.

The Dangerous Islands is one of the Julia Probyn series, cold war thrillers with a brave, beautiful and rich heroine. The islands of this book are first the Hebrides, then islands off County Mayo and finally the Isles of Scilly. Julia and her new acquaintance, Colonel Jamieson of the secret service, investigate mysterious installations on all the islands, which seem to have been planted by the Russians. There’s a lot of sailing in the Scottish section of the book and the whole atmosphere, upper class, feudal, reminded me strongly of Olivia FitzRoy. Julia, of course, ‘has the Gaelic’, which is useful when pumping the locals. When we get to Ireland, surprise, the peasants all know and adore her and easily spill the beans again. Only the Scillies are new territory. Each of these locations is beautifully described but always as part of the story, not in travelogue style. I also have Emergency in the Pyrenees but none of the other Julia books; they seem harder to find than the earlier novels. I think they have a lot in common with Helen MacInnes’ thrillers but while there are plenty of MacInnes paperbacks about I've never seen any of the Julia Probyn ones.

If you like period books about the upper classes (everyone drinking and smoking like mad, servants taken for granted) and foreign locations, Ann Bridge is well worth a try.

Comments

I've enjoyed those of her books I've read - Illyrian Spring is a favourite - but I haven't managed to find many. Must see if my aunt (who introduced me to her writing) has got any of the Julia Probyn series.
Illyrian Spring is one I don't have but I'm bound to find the Virago edition one day. Hope Aunty turns up trumps!

(Anonymous)

Ann Bridge

I once managed to get a whole load of Ann Bridge novels, all with lovely dust wraps like the ones you show here. I just love their covers and I see nothing wrong whatsoever with books-as-art!
I once suggested to Nicola Beauman of Persephone Books that Ann Bridge was perhaps suitable for publishing, but Nicola thought not, and if anyone knows her readership, she does. However, I do think someone, somewhere really should now consider Ann Bridge as a candidate for reissue. Capuchin Classics, perhaps?
Margaret P

Re: Ann Bridge

Lucky you, what a find.

Agree about the reprints, though Virago did at least two. Capuchin? I think not!

(Anonymous)

Ann Bridge

Just read your post more carefully, and I notice that Capuchin has, indeed, reissued an Ann(e) Bridge book. Yes, a pity about the misspelling of her name!
Margaret P

Re: Ann Bridge

It's shocking and puts me off buying any of their books.

(Anonymous)

Re: Ann Bridge

I tried to read Peking Picnic but found it too dated. Perhaps I should try again.

Re: Ann Bridge

It's years since I read it, so i'm not offering recommendations just in case. I certainly enjoyed it at the time but 'datedness' in books doesn't bother me. I much prefer it to modern writers tackling the same period and getting it wrong.

(Anonymous)

Mr Ann Bridge!

For Ann's husband Sir Owen O'Malley please see his famous& very courageous report on the Katyn Massacre!

Re: Mr Ann Bridge!

Thank you for this information.

(Anonymous)

Julia Probyn Series

In digging around for more info about Ann Bridge, I found your post which was very helpful. Although it's been a while, I thought I'd let you know that the full series is available for the Kindle on Amazon. I plan on buying the books when I can find them, but I first read all of them on my Kindle.

Re: Julia Probyn Series

Thanks for the info., I hadn't thought of checking what was available for the Kindle. Now I'm really tempted to get the ones I don't have!

(Anonymous)

Re: Julia Probyn Series

Just a pity that they have misspelled the title of Malady in Madeira! It is also spelt wrong on the Bloomsbury web page..Maderia!

Re: Julia Probyn Series

Tsk!

(Anonymous)

ann bridge

Don't bother. She's a spoiled, bitchy, petty person and it shows in her writing. I guess the old adage is true, you write what you know.