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Reading: Castle Blair

For more than thirty years, Elizabeth Enright’s “Melendy Family” series has been in the inner circle of my favourite books. Short version: they’re about a bunch of kids in the 1940s. Anyway, a couple of times the books mention what some of the characters’ favourite books are. And I always like it when I can get one book to point me at another one.

In this case most of the books mentioned were ones I already knew about, like Tom Sawyer. Another one was Sara Crewe, which threw me until I clued in that Sara Crewe was the main character in A Little Princess. Water Babies was another, I think; haven’t read it and have no current plans to.

And another one was Castle Blair, with which I was not familiar. A few weeks ago I decided to track it down and see if it was any good. Wikipedia informed me that it had been written by Flora Shaw in 1878 about kids in an Irish castle. It was supposed to have been really popular in its day, but you sure don’t hear about it now, and the Ottawa library system didn’t have it. I tried interlibrary loan, and it came through for me just last week. Freaking book had to come all the way from Saskatchewan, which surprised me. It’s a reprint from 1966, actually, so that suggests to me that if I decide I like it enough to track down my own copy that there’ll be something out there.

Don’t know if I will. It’s okay so far; I’m about ten chapters in. I’m certainly learning some things about late-19th-century rural Irish society. But I think it’s going to turn out to be one of those books that I’m glad I read and am happy to leave it at that.

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