Monday, December 18, 2006

Old favorites, and some new ones

About five years ago, I wrote a column for HNR on specific novels that deserved to be published (or republished), because I felt there was a strong market for them. To my surprise, nearly all of them have since appeared in print, or will shortly. As examples: Donna Gillespie's Lady of the Light, Judith Merkle Riley's The Water Devil, Anya Seton's Green Darkness and Katherine, Colin Falconer's The Sultan's Harem...

I don't know if I've been lucky, whether I can pick them, or what.

Then this evening, while browsing the HarperCollins rights guide (this is what I do in my spare time, see), I read that Patricia Clapp's Jane-Emily is going to be reprinted next July by Harper Paperbacks. This is very exciting news. Jane-Emily was one of my two favorite novels as a child, the other being Janet Lunn's Twin Spell. With no idea of where my original copy disappeared to, I considered getting a copy off ABE a few months ago, but didn't feel like paying very much for a paperback in ratty condition. Now I won't have to.

In case you don't know it, Jane-Emily is a classic novel of the supernatural set in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1912. Jane, a nine-year-old orphan spending the summer at her grandmother's stately home with her eighteen-year-old Aunt Louisa (who narrates) , makes contact with the spirit of another young girl, Emily, who died on the grounds of the same house twelve years earlier. Every time I see a glass reflecting ball in someone's yard, it reminds me of Jane-Emily, for in the novel, it glows whenever Emily's ghost is nearby. It's haunting, romantic, and terrifying, and with Jane and Louisa as the two protagonists, it can be read and enjoyed by people of any age.

Not to mention that the cover was seriously cool. Picture a New England-style house in the deep blue of late evening, with a reflecting ball mysteriously aglow in the foreground. This is what I remember, 20 or so years after I last read the novel, though I can't find a photo online.

While typing this, I visited the Amazon page for Jane-Emily and read comments by both the publisher and Patricia Clapp's granddaughter, who posted there.

Has anyone else read it? Do you know of any novels that are currently unavailable that you'd like to see published?


  1. Anonymous4:05 AM

    I haven't read it, but it sounds worth looking out for!

    I'd like to see Kathleen Herbert's Northumbrian trilogy (Bride of the Spear, Queen of the Lightning, Ghost in the Sunlight) back in print. (I wonder if publishers are going to consider shifting their back lists to print-on-demand at some point, as that would solve the whole issue? It might cause trouble with deciding when the rights revert, though).

  2. Agreed on Kathleen Herbert's trilogy. I'd like to see them in print again but think the audience would be limited, sad to say.

    Some American university presses are keeping their backlists available via print-on-demand, to increase sales, and it seems to be working.

    But as you say, it does raise a question about rights reverting - if and when, if a book's still in print via POD.

  3. I absolutely loved Jane-Emily. A former editor of mine at HarperCollins blogged about it--she remembered it so clearly, and it turns out all the other editors in her department had exactly the same memories and feelings about the novel.

    I'm looking forward to reading it again, it has been so long.

    Clapp's YA historical novel Constance, set in the Plymouth Colony, is one reason I became a writer of historical fiction. In my opinion it deserves a new edition!

  4. Anonymous10:34 AM

    I totally forgot about Jane-Emily until this moment but now I remember that it was a fantastic book. Thanks for the reminder....

  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one with fond memories of Jane-Emily. It's inspired to me to request an interlibrary loan copy in the meantime! I haven't yet read Constance.

  6. Anonymous7:15 PM

    Rosemary Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset so needs to be reprinted. Like, yesterday. :)

    And that Kathleen Herbert trilogy sounds interesting, too.

  7. Anonymous10:25 PM

    I'd like to see all of Norah Lofts' books reprinted!

  8. You may be aware of this, but three of Lofts' titles have been reprinted in the UK by Tempus - The Concubine, Eleanor the Queen, and The King's Pleasure. Her royal women novels... in keeping with the current trend.

    Sword at Sunset is a good suggestion. Sutcliff is not very well known in the US, so I doubt we'd see it here - but one never knows.

  9. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Yes, the Sword at Sunset was great; it has been a while since I read that one. Sutcliff really tried to make the Arthur story gel with the original Welsh legends.

    I read a novel in college called "Raquel: the Jewess of Toledo." I cannot remember the author but it was a long German-sounding name. It was a great love story between Alfonso King of Castile who was married to Eleanor of Acquitaine's daughter, and his Jewish mistress. It was a fascinating look at the Jews in Spain (from whom I am descended.) Alfonso's daughter named Blanca later became the Queen of France. Anyway, it was a tremendous book and if anyone finds out anything about it, let me know. (I guess I should just google it one of these days.)

    Also, there were two historical novels about Queen Christina of Sweden that were in my college library called "The Flight" and the sequel "My Love, My Crown." I cannot remember the author, shame on me, but they were also great books.

    Are the Margaret Irwin novels still in print? The series about Elizabeth Tudor was excellent, but I also really enjoyed "The Bride" about Louise of the Rhine and her romance with Montrose. And then there was "Royal Flush" about Minette of England, the Duchess of Orleans, Louis XIV's sister-in-law and his first great love. I loved those stories.

  10. Good ideas!

    Lion Feuchtwanger is the author of Raquel... I own a copy but haven't read it. I didn't know it was about Eleanor of Aquitaine's son-in-law, and that makes me want to read it sooner rather than later.

    I also enjoyed the two novels on Christina of Sweden (by Ruth Stephan). I read them in high school - they were in the school library.

    Irwin's Elizabeth trilogy seems to be in print in the UK. My favorite of hers, also, is The Bride - it made it on the extended favorites list I posted a couple months ago.

  11. Anonymous12:26 PM

    You people keep sending me to look for things on Amazon and I won't have any money until after Christmas! Shame! :)

    I'd like to see some of Philippa Wiat's books back in print. Brenda Honeyman's too.

  12. Yes, I remember Jane-Emily, and read my paperback copy until it was in tatters! I have the same thoughts as you whenever I see a reflecting ball, too. I also remember that the girl on the cover was in a nightie that revealed a lot of cleavage and I think one hand was pressed to her bosom as she gazed in horror at the glowing sphere in front of her.

    It's funny you should write about that book, because a few months ago I was thinking about buying a copy from ABE, then decided it wasn't worth it. Didn't know if my daughters would like it, and didn't know if I'd re-read it.

  13. I remember the girl in a nightie - it was a typical gothic-style cover, wasn't it?

    The only Brenda Honeyman I know of that's been reissued is The Lofty Banners, which is now For King and Country by Kate Sedley... it's not one of her royal ones though.

  14. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Well, Sarah dear, I knew that if you did not have the books I mentioned in your private collection you would at least know about them and the authors!!! Fantastic!!! Thanks!!

    Merry Christmas!!!

  15. My 6th grade teacher would drop everything and read to us in the afternoons, maybe about 45 minutes. Anyway, before Christmas, she read: Escape From Warsaw, Jane-Emily and The Shepherd Of The Hills. She was a terrific reader; Jane-Emily scared the crap out of me! The other 2 books were thrilling; I lived every moment! How could I be absent even a day that year? I might miss a chapter! I'm so happy JE will be reprinted. Thanks for the news!!!

  16. That was a clever and fun way to keep kids in school! I'm rereading Jane-Emily now, and it's as spooky as I remember. Too bad the library that lent it to me only gave me five days (ack) before it's due back, curse them, but at least I got to read it one more time. My memory was slightly faulty on the setting, so I've adjusted the original blog post accordingly - it's set in 1912, not Victorian times.

  17. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I have heard such good things about Kathryn in the Court of Six Queens by Anne Merton Abbey, but haven't been able to find it at a reasonable price. I'd like to see that one reprinted.

  18. Marg, I took a look and the prices for that novel are pretty crazy. Yikes, $30 for a mass market pb. I have a copy and ought to read/review it sometime. However, I have three more review books to get through before I can read anything else...

  19. Anonymous4:02 PM

    This is the first time I've heard of anyone who evne knew about Jane-Emily. It was my favorite book growing up, and i'm so glad to hear someone else enjoyed it. I bought a hardback copy from one of Amazons sellers about a year ago, and i paid $40 for it, and it was in such dissapointing condition- I doubt I'll by from a there sellers agian. I didn't think it would come back into print, so I thought I'd splurge and get a good hardback copy. Dissapointed. But of course the story is still a wonderful, well written story and Patricia Clapp is a a great writer. With all the supernatural movies comign out theses days, someone should adapt it for a movie.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Anonymous5:26 PM

    I have just read Jane-emily in school by Patricia Clapp..My teacher had it in her so called Mini-Library...I was very lucky to find this book,it is worth the hour of reading it. Well if there is an originated author of Jane-Emily that is not Patricia Clapp-I am very much into seeing a movie about Jane-emily-I recomen this book to pre-teens and elders...

  21. I'm glad to hear you liked it too. Would love to see a movie based on Jane-Emily!

  22. Anonymous2:54 PM

    SO cool that there are so many of you out there who love Jane-Emily! My grandmother wrote it, and it was finally re-published this fall. My two daughters have just devoured the book, although their great-grandmother died several years ago, they're still amazed that some of their favorite books were written by her!


  23. Hi Jen, I'm late in replying so don't know if you'll see this, but thanks for stopping by! I'm so happy to see your grandmother's novel was republished. I'd found a copy in the local Borders (and not in the children's section - so hopefully many more adults will find it there and buy it). Rereading it brought back all sorts of memories!