Re-reads: Up the Lone Piners!

They were twins: Pushpa and Prema, unidentical. They were my classmates for a year and a half at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in Batu Pahat, Johor.

They introduced me to Malcolm Saville’s Lone Pine Adventure series and lent me Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, before I got my own copies. Until I met them, I had no idea there were other books besides Little House on the Prairie. I tried to get them to read Anne of Green Gables, but they weren’t interested.

I think about them from time to time, and today because I have been re-reading the few Lone Pine books I own. I was very taken with them at eleven or twelve, and obviously am still fond of them now, at nearly fifty, but I admit I feel mostly morbid fascination these days, and wonder if, after this read, I should send them on their way.

I know when I was a pre-teen, I liked the hint of romance between the two ‘couples’ Jonathan and Penny, and David and Petronella (Peter). Penny the redhead was my favourite and I was jealous, on her behalf, of golden-haired, angel-faced Peter. I used to re-write scenes from the books, and in  version of the stories, both Jonathan and David vied for Penny’s affections. Poor Peter didn’t care much. She had her pony Sally (much better than either of the boys – I see that now).

With this re-read I am finding Penny insufferable, although she is still much more bearable than the twins, Dickie and Mary, whom I have never been able to stomach.


I have now re-read Saucers Over the Moon and The Gay Dolphin Adventure, and am currently re-reading The Secret of Grey Walls. I wish I had a copy of Rye Royal, which I think I’ve read before because I can remember the cover really clearly (when I was twelve there was no internet so I would not have seen it online). However, I can’t remember the story. By the way, don’t you think that cover could be used for a Mills & Boon romance novel? The way Saville dwells on the relationship between Penny and Jonathan (and Peter and David), I’m sure he wanted to write romances.


Shanghai Detective

qiu-xialongCould it really be nine years since I interviewed Qiu Xiaolong, the author of the Chief Inspector Chen series? He was an easy man to talk to, warm and forthcoming, and I remember our conversation clearly, including details that never made it into my article – for example, how German publishers often hire actors to perform (i.e. read) at book launches, and that the actor who usually reads Qiu’s work is actually known for his role as a detective on German television.

Back in 2007, I was given the first Chen mystery to read as prep for the interview. I enjoyed the book, but never got round to reading the other titles in the series (there are nine in total). This year I acquired e-copies of books two to six. I have now read two to five, and will be starting on six shortly.Read More »

Clip-Clop Goes the Heart

In the Guardian Unlimited yesterday, a piece about K.M. Peyton, whoseFlambards Trilogy I love.

I was introduced to the books through the telly series (when RTM used to screen British TV). I was very taken by the story of a young orphan girl who is sent to live with her uncle and two male cousins. I’m one of four sisters and attended a Convent school, and I had had crushes on various male cousins so I felt the thrill and recognised the potential of Christina’s situation.Read More »

Purple Prose

uncle1Gosh, I can’t believe I forgot about this reprint of all six of J.P. Martin’s Uncle books.

We have Marcus Gipps to thank for this edition. Read more here. You can get your copy at Amazon

If you’re not familiar with His Purple Highness, here’s a a piece I wrote for my column:

First published on 8th February,  2009 in The Star

“UNCLE is an elephant. He is immensely rich, and he’s a B.A. He dresses well, generally in a purple dressing gown, and he often rides about on a traction engine, which he prefers to a car.

He lives in a house called Homeward, which is hard to describe, but try to think of about a hundred skyscrapers, all joined together and surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge over it, and you’ll get some idea of it.”Read More »

Susan Saves the Day!

susan sandsI couldn’t resist buying this book today: The Riddle of Raggedrock Ridge, #4 in Marilyn Ezzell’s Susan Sand Mystery Stories series.

I found it at that grubby secondhand bookstore in Amcorp Mall – the very one where I once found a first edition of Antonia Forest’s The Player’s Boy; and where, today, I found two old Kaye Webb-era Puffins: Catweazle by Richard Carpenter, and The Rifle House Friendsby Lois Lamplugh.

But back to Susan Sand. O.M.G.

I’ve never seen or heard of this series before. It’s a Nancy Drew wannabe of course, but I think it’s also  a parody of sorts.Read More »