I Found a Heroine to Cherish … and I Share Her Taste in Books …

I picked up my copy of ‘The Lighthearted Quest’ by Ann Bridge in a second-hand bookshop some time ago. It looked wonderful, but when I learned that it was the first in a series of eight, and that all were out of print, I decided that I must track down the other seven before I began to read.

There are few things more infuriating than getting part way through a series and coming to a grinding halt!

I found three more books with ease, two more with a little difficulty, but the last two remained elusive. Why does that happen so often when I try to collect a series or an author I wonder?

But luck was on my side – Bloomsbury is about to reissue all eight books, and so I will be able to fill in the gaps.

A couple of days ago I picked up that first book, and I finally met Julia Probyn. I found her to be such an engaging heroine, with charm, vitality and intelligence, and I am having a lovely time following her through Morocco.

I shall endeavour to write more before too long but here, by way of a teaser, is that passage illuminating Julia’s taste inliterature:

“… In many if those houses they came across small round baths, six feet or more across and around the depth of a modern bath, cemented within, their raised rims decorated with designs in mosaic: one of these bore a pattern of gold-fish. Julia was instantly reminded of Linda’s bath, with the swimming gold-fish in its side in ‘The Pursuit of Love’, and was ravished; she drew Mr. St John’s attention to this resemblance, and he gave his dry prehistoric chuckle. They had to explain the joke to the airman, who had not read Nancy Mitford, and was less amused …”

9 responses

  1. I love how you are always looking to read books that have almost been forgotten about!! I can’t wait to take this journey with you as you read and tell us about this series!

  2. I bought a whole run of Ann Bridge novels (oridginal editions with dust jackets) when I ‘helped out’ in my friends’ bookshop more than a decade ago. I bought them on the look of their attractive covers alone, but as yet haven’t read any right through although I’ve tried some of them but found them not quite right for the moment. Perhaps I might now give them another try.

  3. Another appealing possibility! — and our library has them (or at least a compendium of three). Sometimes I’m tempted to stop reading about what you’re all reading over there because it’s just a tease…thank goodness for a great library system!

  4. What goes around, comes around, as they say … Ann Bridge was ‘recommended reading’ by our English mistress at my grammar school (1957-1962)! She also recommended Joy Packer, a novelist whom one seldom hears about today! One of her books, Nor the Moon by Night, was made into a film starring (the late) Dirk Bogarde.

  5. Dear Fleur, I’ve got The Lighthearted Quest (unread) on my shelf and now you’ve posted this I will start on it today. I wasn’t aware it was the first of eight or that the whole series were being reprinted – so thanks for all that research! Looking forward to more of your thoughts on TLQ. Sorry I am generally only in lurking capacity – tiny children are responsible.
    Merenia. x

  6. Dear Fleur, I have started into The Lighthearted Quest and am loving it. I think I may need to embark on a light hearted quest of my own now, and locate the rest of the series. I will start secondhand, but good to know I have Bloomsbury Readers if needed. I am liking Ann Bridge’s writing. She is light and graceful and humourous in her prose. It will be interesting to know what you think of the others in the series…

  7. Thank you so much for this review. I downloaded this from Bloomsbury & I’m loving it even though I’m only a couple of chapters in. To know that I can download the rest of the series is wonderful. The Bloomsbury list certainly has some treasures, I’ve already had a bit of a splurge.

  8. How exciting! I read Illyrian Spring a few months ago, it seems like it’s a favorite among the blogosphere. Luckily the college library nearby has a good selection of her works (and I have borrowing privileges!). I also found a copy of Peking Picnic from Capuchin Classics during the Borders blowout sale, so of course I snapped it up — though it’s still sadly unread.

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