Whispers from My Past

I’m consumed with book love right now, and both the objects of my affection are books I read long, long ago as a young girl. If you’re reading this, chances are that you, too, are a die-hard booklover. Myself, I was reading before first grade. I had an older sister and a younger sister, and all three of us devoured any books that came our way–no matter the reading level. We gobbled up the Nancy Drew mysteries, Donna Parker, Trixie Belden. Then we moved on to Louisa May Alcott, (yes, I know you read LITTLE WOMEN, but do you know LITTLE MEN? JO’S BOYS? The book about cousins–can’t remember title?). Of course we adored the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. And somehow, we found the Maud Hart Lovelace Betsy-Tacy-Tib books. For young girls growing up in 1960s Florida, reading about a trio of best friends in turn-of-the-century Minnesota was just too wonderful. How I loved those books. Now, here’s the best part. They’ve been re-issued by my publisher HarperCollins, in truly adorably illustrated trade paperbacks. My friend Virginia Stanley at Harper sent me a box of them last week, and I dropped the grown-up stuff I was reading and dove right into the first, which is HEAVEN TO BETSY/BETSY IN SPITE OF HERSELF . Oh, bliss! I was transported back to that time in a skinny minute. My only complaint? My mystery writer buddy Laura Lippman got to write the foreword for these re-releases. I am simply pea green with envy. By coincidence, I was also recently given a re-release of another classic blast from my past. I’ve long been a huge Daphne DuMaurier fan. Her REBECCA is my favorite book. Ever. But as a young girl, I’d read another Gothic suspense novel, about a Victorian-era governess who takes a post at a mysterious estate in Cornwall. I knew the title, MISTRESS OF MELLYN, but couldn’t remember the author. Lo and behold, the author was Victoria Holt. I am re-reading, and loving every minute of MISTRESS OF MELLYN. Truly, the book holds up better than I remembered. Now, do yourself a favor. Re-visit an old book friend from the past. And tell me what YOUR favorite was.

27 thoughts on “Whispers from My Past”

  1. I'm not nearly the romantic you are. My favorite was "All The King's Men," by Robert Penn Warren, which I read during college days. (You know all about those).

  2. Mine would have to be "Ode to Billy Joe". My mother would not let me read it after I bought it. So, being the type of person I am, I would go to my friends house and read her copy. It's a book of forbidden love that was forbidden for me to read.

  3. Boxcar kids and there was a book about Beany- she was a teenager in the fifties. can't remember the name of the books, Anybody know? Loved meeting you in Madison, and loved the Fixer Upper.

  4. When I was in third grade, my mother went back to work as the high school librarian of the small, northeast Mississippi town of Corinth. Every afternoon, I walked the four blocks to the high school and had the library all to myself as she finished her work. "Black Beauty," "Little Men," "Jo's Boys" …. and everything else by Louisa May Alcott, everything by Mark Twain. I also read all the romances by Victoria Holt, and anything my mom put aside for me. I didn't realize until I was an adult how blessed I was to have the world of books in reach.

  5. I loved those Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace too!

    My favorites when I was growing up were The Pink Motel by Carol Ryrie Brink and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. When I was a teenager, I couldn't get enough of books by Agnes Sligh Turnbull.

  6. Oh, and of course the other ones you mentioned – Little Women, Little Men (and Eight Cousins – my personal LMA fave). I could go on and on with this topic!

  7. I loved all the Judy Blume books when I was growing up and would read them over and over. Would love to re-read them again!

  8. I loved anything Boxcar children. I read every single one. I also loved biographys. My favorite book (the librarian at my school gave me my own copy when I moved away) was "She Wanted to Read" by Mary McCloud Bethune!!!

  9. All the Roald Dahl books (James and the Giant Peach and the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory series), Gone With The Wind…

  10. I don't remember when I couldn't read. I think I entered first grade pretty much reading what I wanted to. I got into a series of biographies written for children and would read anything biographical for several years. Loved and re-read the Amelia Earhart biographies – all I could find. The Bobsey Twins were my next favorite and of course Nancy Drew. I still love a good mystery!

  11. Nancy Drew,Little Women from when I was little.Godfather, Catcher in the Rye as ateenager.Texasville first marriage.Up Island, my divorce. Anything Mary Kay now and forever but especially Hissy Fit cause this husbands from Madison and Deep Dish cause I was born in Atlanta and raised in Decatur. These are the stages of my life. Farris

  12. Mom- Remember crawling in your big bed and reading Boxcar Children? I was so jealous that homeless kids got to have a dog and we didn't!

  13. Of course all the Nancy Drew mysteries when I was young. Then it would have to be Savannah Breeze; firt of all, the title caught my eye; then that paragraph about Tybee in the seventies, and how no one wanted to go there, well I did! I met the love of my life there, at the tender age of 18, of course, by summer's end, he was gone. So much for the love of my life!

  14. I read 'em all…Nancy Drew, GWTW when I was 12, Victoria Holt and most of the new children's books from 1980-1995 when I was an elementary teacher. The most memorable was reading my mom's copies of the 007 series when I was a young teen. They were skinny books and I could get one and move the others apart so she couldn't tell a book was missing. I learned a lot of racy stuff!

  15. I've just started reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books–I'd never read them before and decided it was time. I want to read them in order and have knocked off three of them. I'm trying to save them as weekend reads–the better to savor them.

  16. I LOVED LOVED LOVED all the Betsy books, read them all, many times over. They are as good today as all those many years ago….when I was a young girl. I have 3 dolls named Betsy, Tacy and Tib.

    RYC Bebe…..those Beany books I think you may be thinking of the Beany Malone series, I read all those too, and loved them.

    I was a big Nancy Drew fan and think I made it through the whole series. I bought the novels with my allowance and babysitting money. Along with 45's for my record player.

    My favorite childhood authour was Rosamund Du Jardin, she wrote the 'malt shop' teen romances of the 50s……..we devoured those as young girls because they were all about dating! and Senior Prom, orchid corsages,first kisses, dancing at the malt shop after school with your 'steady' and wearing his class ring. Back then there were sock hops and Sadie Hawkins dances and recitals and 'car dates' when you turned Sweet Sixteen, and holding hands meant something back then.

    Another great book was "The Cheerleader", anybody else read that one?

  17. Oh wow, I forgot about the Beany Malone books and Rosamonde duJardin. My favorite of hers was "Wait for Marcy", but I read them all. That makes me think of another author I read voraciously as a teen – Janet Lambert. I absolutely loved the characters of Penny Parrish and her daughter, Parri.

  18. Wow…I had forgotten how much I LOVED "Mistress of Mellyn" until I saw it on your blog! I must have read it a dozen times when I was young. Until I discovered "Rebecca," that is. Hmmm…wonder why it is I find so much to like in your books?
    ~ Mac

  19. Don't forget the sequel to EIGHT COUSINS, ROSE IN BLOOM.

    I adored the Betsy-Tacy books, and I find they are one of a handful of books I read as a girl that hold up as an adult reader. The girls in the books being reissued are faced with the same angsts and challenges that teenagers are in any era, and capture those feelings of the teen years. They are great books!

  20. Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill was the first book I ever checked out of the library on my own card. I was five and had just read it to the librarian to prove I could read. My sister and I read and reread all the Lovelace books. Like you, we 20th century Georgia girls found 19th-century Minnesota fascinating and exotic in some ways, yet remarkably like us in others.

  21. Love the shoutout to the reissued Betsy-Tacy books (in fact, I'm one of the party planners in Texas!). But I also appreciate the info that Mistress of Mellyn is no longer out of print. I loved that book when I was in junior high, and I think it was Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy/Philippa Pearce (pick a pseudonym!!)'s best!!

  22. My all time favorite kids book is The Paleface Redskins. Other favorites were the Betsy-Tacy books, All of a Kind Family series, anything by Beverly Cleary or Carolyn Haywood. I also loved all those gothics like Victoria Holt and Mary Stuart. I wish I could remember more of those gothic writers names.

  23. My absolute favorite book as a child was E.L. Konigsburg's "From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" and as an adult I've re-read it several times and have encouraged my 3 girls to read it as well. As an adult I've found and read more titles by her that I didn't know existed then; I guess they weren't available in my local library. I was also a huge Trixie Belden fan and now my daughters are as well since they have released them again. I also remember a book called Camilla or Camille or Camillia…don't remember which…that i borrowed several times from my junior-high school library….girl with a red coat on the cover!

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