Sunday, 24 March 2013

Rumer Godden

The Telegraph's Book section can yield some gems on occasion. Rumer Godden is one of those wonderful crossover authors who can take you from the children's library to the larger adult section of the library. Before mine was refurbished and tall shelves of books were replaced by turning freestanding shelves stuffed with DVDs, there were bookshelves that reached from floor to ceiling. I wasn't, at first, sure where to start in the adults library. Library staff were discreet and busy with the queues at the desk, so I had time and freedom to roam. Rumer Godden was an author I already knew well. My favourite among her doll stories was Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, so finding her again in the adults section introduced me to Pippa (Pippa Passes) and kind nuns in In this House of Brede to say nothing of The Peacock Spring.

I'm pleased that so many authors of my childhood are being introduced to new readers with the new reprints. While it's lovely for books to be passed down the generations, the reality is that few books last being read to bits by enthusiastic child readers. Older Puffins, in particular, are rather vulnerable once the glue dries and the pages become brittle. The Rumer Godden Literary Trust was set up after Rumer's death and has given us beautiful new editions of her doll stories. Now that Virago is reprinting Kingfishers Catch Fire you'll see a different side to her storytelling and a more reflective author trying so hard to understand Indian culture. Mutual misunderstandings throughout and wonderfully told.

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