Lost & Found: Adventures in Book Hunting #1

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As some of you may know I sell antique and vintage books on Etsy. It’s a hobby that allows me to do one of my favourite things – buy old books – without feeling too guilty. It’s not really about making money (although that’s nice too), it’s about the joy of finding beautiful old / rare books, researching their history and giving them a new home. In this new feature I will be sharing some of my finds with you!

The Jewel of Kasr-Ed-Shendi (1973) by Penelope Fletcher

Found: Tiffin School Car Boot Sale, Kingston-Upon-Thames

 

 

Synopsis

Before setting out at the beginning of her first term at boarding school in Scotland, Pat is entrusted by her father with the care of a valuable diamond. Although she knew she would have to face danger, the events of that term were to become more horrifying than she thought possible. It proved to be a time she would never forget, when her character, strengthened by her Girl Guide training, was to be tested to the limit.

Although she had little in common with her room-mate Muriel when they first met, their adventures together revealed sterling qualities of unsuspected depth, and welded a bond of friendship between them. 

History

Girl Guiding has a long and rich history of empowering girls and young women, and this book is a lovely product of that history. Written by Penelope Fletcher and published in 1973, this first edition is a sought-after book for Girl Guide aficionados.

Penelope Fletcher was born in Birkenhead in 1907 and became extremely interested in the Girl Guides during her school days. She joined her School Company and the Blackbird Patrol and later became the Lieutenant in the Girl Guides Y.W.C.A Birkenhead. After her marriage, Fletcher became Captain of the 1st Hollesley Girl Guides until they disbanded in 1938.

The Jewel of Kasr-Ed-Shendi is a Girl Guide School Story full of outdoor adventure and friendship aimed at celebrating the female of the species in line with the true spirit of the Girl Guides.

Inscription

One of the main things I love about old books is finding inscriptions. This one has a lovely inscription which just adds to its rich history as far as I’m concerned. It reads ‘To dear Josie, Lambert & family, with love & best wishes for health, wealth & happiness now & always from auntie Pene. Dec 1973.’

I’ve tried to research this to no avail, but it’s quite a coincidence it’s signed auntie Pene – perhaps the author herself!?

Purchase

I can only find 3 copies of this rare, collectable book online. Sunrise Books are selling one on AbeBooks and Amazon Marketplace for £164.99. There is another copy on Amazon marketplace for £95, and one on Ebay in France for 194.99 Euros.

I’m selling my copy for £75, which you can view in full here

Does this book mean anything to you? I’d love to hear more about the history of this book and Penelope Fletcher. 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister #BookReview #MarchReleases

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girlindisguiseTitle: Girl in Disguise
Author: Greer Macallister
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 308 pages
Publication Details: March 21st 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Adventure; Mystery 
Disclosure? Yep, I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review!

Goodreads 

bookdepo

For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can’t. She’s a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she’s been assigned to nab.

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective’s rise during one of the nation’s greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

Review

I didn’t know what to expect from Girl in Disguise having not read Macallister’s debut novel The Magician’s Lie or knowing much about the Pinkertons/ that era of American history to be perfectly honest. However, I do enjoy a good historical yarn now and then as long it’s not too bogged down in facts and figures, so I was eager to give it a try.

We first meet Kate Warne – famous for being the first ever female detective – when she is setting out to be just that. She answers an ad in a paper knowing full well that it will be difficult to persuade them that she’s the right man for the job, as it were. But of course she does, and so we follow Kate as she begins her training with Allan Pinkerton to learn everything she can about being an undercover operative.

Kate has a bit of a shaky start, including a run-in with colleague Bellamy but after that we watch her go from strength to strength and become more confident and cunning in her abilities.

I really enjoyed Macallister’s take on Kate Warne. She could probably come across quite cold and stern to some but because we hear the story from her point of view we know differently, we know it’s merely a self-defence tactic which is necessary for her to adopt considering all the things that are stacked against her. The main one of course being that she is a woman in a time where ‘respectable’ women aren’t even supposed to have jobs, never mind this kind of job.

I liked that Girl in Disguise is an action-packed adventure but also uses Kate Warne’s story to explore a lot of interesting issues surrounding equality. In a time of female oppression, Kate not only makes ground-breaking steps forward, she is also fiercely aware that other women are so accustomed to inequality that they’re often their own worst enemies…

They don’t hesitate to hang women down here”

“Could they be so awful?”

“What’s awful about it?” she shrugged. “Our crimes are as serious as theirs. Our punishments should be too.”

“A miserable sort of equality to hope for.”

Even in these terrible circumstances, she looked proud. “If we take the good, we also have to take the bad.We don’t get to fetch it up piecemeal.”

I think that sort of double-standards still rings true today. There is also the character of Deforest who Kate – whilst working on her tracking skills – discovers he is harbouring a secret that would see him hanged – he’s gay. Kate and Deforest’s friendship was my favourite in the novel, and I liked how the author captured her initial reaction and how her attitude towards him changed throughout the book. It rang true to the era and didn’t take the easy route of making Kate completely ambivalent towards it.

“In some way, I couldn’t possibly fathom him, his unnatural interests, his decision to be like he was. But the undertow of his terror, I understood.”

Macallister has done a great job in researching the real Kate Warne and building on that with her own version of the detective. Like I said earlier, I’m not a fan of historical fiction when it’s all facts and no storytelling but there was definitely a lot of storytelling here, with the facts seamlessly embedded. I thought some of Macallister’s descriptions were lovely too, making it a compelling read.

“The woman lay on the carpet as if resting, which I suppose she was, only forever.”

My one critique is that first half of the book felt a bit like a montage of events which made the pace nice and fast but I longed for more detail; it sometimes felt like Macallister was trying to fit too much in at once. She could have concentrated on just one or two of Warne’s interesting cases rather than an overview of many. This was most definitely improved on in the second half of the book though.

In this novel we see Kate Warne’s rise and fall, and the changing attitudes towards her from those around her. It’s a fun, rollercoaster of a read, and one which reads as a love letter to plucky women whose actions make the world a better place. Therefore it’s bound to be called a great feminist story, but I’d prefer to just call it a great story, Full Stop.

unicorn rating 4

 

Book Promo: Dumped ~ Stories of Women Unfriending Women

Dumped book cover

Title: Dumped; Stories of Women Unfriending Women

Author: Edited by Nina Gaby

Genre: Non-Fiction; Anthology

Publication Details: March 3rd 2015 by She Writes Press

Amazon // Goodreads

About the Book

Getting dumped sucks—and no, we don’t mean by a significant other. We’re talking about the atom bomb of abandonment: Getting dumped by a best friend. Millions of women who know the universally-experienced-but-rarely-discussed trauma of being dumped by a close female friend can relate to the candid stories in Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women.

Twenty-five celebrated writers—including Jacquelyn Mitchard, Ann Hood, Carrie Kabak, Jessica Handler, Elizabeth Searle, Alexis Paige, and editor Nina Gaby—explore the fragile, sometimes humorous, and often unfathomable nature of lost friendship.

The essays in Dumped aren’t stories of friendship dying a mutually agreed-upon death, like falling out of touch. These are stories of suddenly finding yourself erased, without context or warning. There should be an Adele song for this—and now, the millions of women who have cried over the inexplicable loss of a friendship can bond over the raw, charming, funny, and soulbaring stories of women who know how they feel.

From teenagers to soccer moms, teachers to friends, Dumped is for women who enjoy Bridesmaids as much as Little Women, or HBO’s Girls as much Anne Lamott and Alice Munro. It will make women ages 16-70 smile, cry, laugh, and best of all, say “Me too!” as they learn that being Dumped by a close friend doesn’t mean going it alone.

Meet the Editor

ninagaby
NINA GABY is a writer, widely shown visual artist, and psychiatric nurse practitioner whose essays
and fiction have been published by Lilith Magazine, Creative Non Fiction’s In Fact imprint, Seal Press,
Paper Journey Press, Wising-Up Press, The Prose-Poem Project
, and on Brevity.com.

What People Are Saying About ‘Dumped’

Brilliant, charming, heartbreaking, truth-telling, soul-baring, extraordinary…I defy any woman
not to identify with at least one of these stories.”

—Amy Ferris, author of Marrying George Clooney and co-editor of Dancing at the Shame Prom

Links

Goodreads
Contact the Publicist
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