Posted by: Janet | September 13, 2007

The Thwarted Bookseller/Bookbuyer

As recounted earlier there was no space available for me to participate in the Dublin City Book Fair last weekend.  The flip side of that was I had more time to browse and find a few “treasures” to add to my collection.  Still feeling enthusiastic for more “treasures”, I went browsing again – this time to a 2nd hand book store in Dun Laoghaire.  I had just finished reading River Dog, A Journey Down the Brahmaputra, by Mark Shand.

 river-dog-and-cat.jpg  Our cat Slinki and River Dog

 I like travel books and I like stories about animals – this book had both ingredients and I enjoyed reading it., particularly the parts about Bangladesh.  Well actually I enjoyed each section of the book as he tried to explore the course of the river from Tibet, through India, and finally reaching the sea in Bangladesh.   I found this book quite by chance in Readers Bookstore in Dun Laoghaire so I decided to go there to see what else I could find.  Well, I did come up with a few more “treasures” and felt quite happy until………..I asked if they happened to have any of the My Friends books by Jane Duncan.  Jane Duncan wrote back in the 1960’s and is possibly more famous for her children’s books, which are still in print, Janet of Reachfar being one of them.   The following is from Wikipedia:   

“Janet Duncan (1910-1976) was the pseudonym of Scottish writer Elizabeth Jane Cameron.  She was best-known for her My Friends series of semi-autobiographical novels, describing a childhood in Scotland, a young adulthood in the U.K. during the Second World War and her later life in Jamaica.  She also wrote four novels under the pseudonym Janet Sandison and a further collection of children’s novels.”  end of quote

 The person at the till in Readers said, no they didn’t have any – not surprising, they are actually quite hard to find now, at least here in Ireland.  My mother first put me on to them back in the 1960’s and I duly read each one as it came along but I didn’t hang on to them.  Now in recent years I have a renewed interest in Scotland and would like to find these books and have them on my shelves.  Unlike Lillian Beckwith’s wonderful books, the Jane Duncan books have not been reissued, and they are scarce.  I have several – 2 hardbacks I found in Young’s Interesting Books in Westport in County Mayo.  A paperback I found in the R.N.L.I. garage in Fionnphort on the Island of Mull in Scotland.  And I have several others.  They are wonderful and charming books and I do wish they would be reissued.

What disappointed me about the person in charge in Readers Bookshop was not that he didn’t have any Jane Duncan books but rather that he did not share my enthusiasm for this author.  In fact, he was quite dismissive and said oh, people just throw those books away – like Readers Digest.  Gasp!


  1. I gasped also Janet that a bookseller could so casually talk about the throwing away of books. It might be a long shot but if you send me a list of the Jane Duncan books that you are looking for I could do some browsing in all the marvelous second hand bookshops here in Seattle. Love Susan

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