It was 1987 or ’88, before the days of cable TV. The local TV stations seemed to be totally random in its choice of films to screen and there were lots of duds, but the occasional jewel. One night, on RTM 2, there was Granada TV’s 1986 dramatisation of The Death of the Heart, based on the novel by Elizabeth Bowen. I had never heard of Bowen and I could not find her books in the bookstores in Singapore (there were no bookstores to speak of in my Malaysian hometown). However, National Junior College library had a copy of The Little Girls, and I managed to find a couple of volumes of short stories from the National University of Singapore library.
It wasn’t til 1989, while I was in England for an interview at the nursing college I’d applied to, that I finally found a copy of The Death of the Heart, in a secondhand bookshop in Hampstead. It was a 1949 hardback edition by Jonathan Cape for which I paid a pound.
The day before I’d found Bowen’s collected short stories (Penguin, 1983, £7.99, with illustrations by Joan Hassall) at Foyle’s (in London), where they shelf books according to publisher. I must have asked for her because I would not have known where to look. One didn’t know anything back in the days before the Internet and Google. (Arguably, one still doesn’t know a thing now.)