These are books I picked up in the British Library sales years ago. I consider these rare and obscure because – a) I haven’t come across these titles in years in any lists or references and b) The books are out of print in Amazon and other sites. While I managed to give away quite a few of them over the past couple of years, the following books survived the clean up only to be given away this year –
- Beyond the Blue Mountains by Penelope Lively – Published in 1998, this short story collection is abound with themes which include marriage and human relationships interspersed with stories on caution, all of which are given just a touch of magical realism. The principal story is set in Australia was interesting while the rest of the stories based out of England were politely engaging.
- The Lotus House by Katherine Moore – Published in 1985 and set in England, the Lotus House details the memories of an old woman named Lotty who buys and renovates a dilapidated house in a desperate attempt to save it. The house holds good memories for Lotty and in hopes of keeping them alive, she goes about acquiring tenants whose lives are not quite what she imagines them to be. The reluctant residents are united and possibly given new beginnings with a bit of nudge from the cleaning lady. A light and quick read!
- Laura by GMT Parsons – A totally obscure tale with a deceptive book cover. Laura and her sister Fanny are two orphans, who are taken in by an uncle from their father’s side. Used to frequent house moves, a delicate aunt and an eager governess who’s determined to please, the girls uneventful lives are livened up by their latest move although Laura’s quiet demeanor hides a disturbing secret, capable of causing tragedy.
- Diary of a Misplaced Philosopher by Joseph North – Quirky and humorous, this diary/novel is one year worth’s account of the author’s life. The author’s doctorate in philosophy has no relation to this profession but bears heavily on his musings and observations. The entries speak of his friends, flat mates, the old dear and her feline companions whose eccentrics border on the improbable. The only flipped was as the pages progressed, it became a clear case of mundane monologue with predictable repetitions. Nothing like EM Delafield’s works!
- Big House – Helena McEwen explores life’s tragedies through her protagonist Elizabeth’s musings as she attempts to come to terms with the sudden deaths of her siblings – James and Kitty. While the memories masquerade a happy family, they convey the image of a family plagued with alcoholism, marital discord and childhood disturbances that cause her family to crumble. Definitely a book that deserves patience!
- The Duchess of Castile – Julian Fane’s The Duchess of Castile explores the consequences of one woman’s ambitions as she sets about manipulating a naive upper class Englishman whose resentment of his older brother leads to tragic endings. Thoroughly gloomy and psychotic to the point I was happy to be rid of it.