Inner Child reading weekend has crept up on me again like my best friend asking me to come out to play.
You know how you'd sit through a week of school in the Summer and just be desperate for playing out in the evenings 'until the town hall clock said 8' and then Saturday.
Pocket money, trip to the library, suitably fortified with a dinner (no such thing as lunch, it was dinner and tea) of boiled mince and onions floating in gravy, with carrots and mashed potato and then there'd be that knock at the door. It would be my friend Ann on her far superior Jacko roller skates (she went to a private school and had ball-bearings in her wheels) and I'd strap on my Davies skates (state primary school, no ball bearings but I could still weave magic on them) and off we'd go.
I'm not quite sure how I feel when I see familiar items from my past in antique markets, but to my chagrin I came across an identical pair of roller skates this week and I had to laugh because the label said 'Highly Dangerous'. I had tiny feet so even on the smallest setting I had to lace the toe piece to the ankle strap or risk death by a thousand somersaults.We expected to come a cropper on everything from Mobo scooters to pogo sticks and not a knee or elbow pad in sight....was that highly dangerous?
Ann and I would sort out our Bunty (Ann) / Judy (me) comic swap and then we'd probably head off to skate around the rumbly wooden floors in Woolworth's which must have driven the shop assistants mad.
Well this book is all scrambled up in those memories and I have been looking forward to it for weeks and weeks.
I even put it off once because the time didn't feel right to revisit one of my absolute childhood favourites, be assured this one's up there with What Katy Did and Anne of Green Gables.
Then the Tinker spotted this new deluxe version published by Walker Books and instantly I wanted to read it, and in this exact edition too, so finally it's the turn of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
My Secret Garden recollections are also mixed in around the black and white TV series as well as a reading of the book and I'd have given my skates away (only for a day, I think I used to sleep in them) to have been the little girl to find that key, that door and that garden with a tame robin to assist.
In my mind's eye fairly firm visual ideas too, so it's a precarious moment when I pick up a new version and hope that the illustrations fit.
I can't begin to describe how exactly Inga Moore's illustrations do fit. They remind me of my trip last year to Snowshill Manor and are exquisitely drawn and painted; Mary has the most alluring little face and mannerisms. I suspect these will say much more to me as I marry them up with the text so more on those soon.
I'm also eagerly awaiting a book of essays published by The University of Illinois Press which I only heard news of via one of those Amazon 'you bought this so we think you might like this' e mails. I usually delete them because I don't need any more temptations than I can deal with especially of the £50 variety, but the title and the blurb stopped me in my tracks.
A Narrative Compass - Stories that Guide Women's Lives edited by Betsy Hearne and Roberta Seelinger Trites.
'Each of us has a narrative compass, one or more stories that have guided our lifework. This project invited women scholars from a variety of disciplines to identify and examine the stories that have motivated them and shaped their research. Telling the "story of her story" leads each of the essayists in the book to insights about her own methods of textual analysis and to a deeper, often surprising, understanding of the connective power of imagination.'
The University of Illinois Press responded very promptly and with benevolence to my plea and are kindly sending a copy which I will share with you all on here when it arrives.
There is a chapter on The Secret Garden and one on L.M.Montgomery and plenty more, so I'm intrigued to see how this book informs the Inner Child reading going on here. The more of these books I'm reading the more I'm realising just how important they have been to me throughout my life, often in fairly obscure ways and it will be good to read how other women have assimilated this childhood reading experience and compare it all with my own.
Happy Inner Child reading weekend to anyone else who is indulging along with me, I'd love to know your choices.