books monthly

february 2018 - The Nostalgia Page...

Home Page | Adult Fiction | Crime & Thrillers | SF & Fantasy | Children's books | Nonfiction | Pen and Sword | Nostalgia | The Jerry Dowlen Column

Elinor Brent-Dyer: The Chalet School and Jo

Published by Girls Gone By Publishers 15th July 2017


In this 7th Chalet School book, Jo begins her last year with mixed feelings: she is to be Head Girl and, although everyone agrees she is the right girl for the job, Jo is not looking forward to this heavy responsibility. Joey's first weeks in the post are overshadowed with worry about the Robin. Always frail, the little girl is now showing signs which may be symptoms of the dread disease which carried off her mother. The term has Guides, camping and boating, but the most thrilling time is a half-term trip to Oberammergau to see the Passion Play of which they have all heard so much. Evvy, Elsie, Corney, Maria and Ilonka contrive to give the quiet village of Oberammergau something to talk about, but the Passion Play is a complete success with the girls. The sobering influence of the play does not last, however, and before long the five sinners, with the addition of Margia's leadership, throw themselves into a situation which changes the whole life of one small girl, Biddy O’Ryan.


An early title in the series, The Chalet School and Jo is one of those stories that confirm EBD as probably the very best of all of the girls' school story authors. It has everything, but most of all it has Jo at the top of her game, looking after the Robin, dealing with various minor and major crises, and emerging as the all-rounded young woman who goes on to make a famous life for herself as a wife, a mother and an author. Her years at the Chalet School have left her well prepared for what lies ahead. A superb package from GGB Publishers!





You are here: Books Monthly » The Nostalgia Page »

The US Army Cooks' Manual

Published by Casemate 18th December 2017


An army marches on its stomach―so the classic saying goes. This book brings together excerpts from contemporary manuals for U.S. Army cooks to show how the U.S. Army fed and provisioned its troops in the early 20th century and lift the lid on what daily life must have been like both for those preparing and consuming the rations.

The oldest manual included dates from 1896. At this time, the U.S. Army was involved in the last skirmishes of the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American war and the Philippine-American war. The manual prepares a cook for any eventuality whether in garrison, at camp in the field, or on the march, with instructions on everything from butchery to preserving meat and how to organise the serving of the food and clean utensils (a stew pan with fine sand and salt). As well as classic American fare such as chowder, numerous hash recipes and Rhode Island pancakes, more exotic influences are apparent with such delights as Crimean Kebobs, Turkish pillau, "Bombshells" (giant meatballs) and Tamales (chilli beef stew wrapped in corn leaf parcels). By contrast a 1916 manual offers a detailed consideration of nutrition for the men, and what must be one of the first calorie counters for different dishes. Instructions are given on how to assemble a field range in a trench and on a train. Among the more unusual recipes are "head cheese" (meat stew made from scraps) and pickled pigsfeet. Manuals produced during WWII instructed cooks how to bake a variety of breads, cakes and pies, or how to cook dehydrated products.

With an introduction explaining the historical background, this is a fascinating and fun exploration of early 20th-century American army cooking, with a dash of inspiration for feeding your own army!


A superb and hugely entertaining facsimile reproduction of the US Army Cooks' Manual. A brilliant slice of social history...


Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone - The Detective Club 150th Anniversary Edition

Published by HarperCollins 28th December 2017


Exactly 150 years since its publication in 1868, this reissue of Collins’ popular Detective Club edition of The Moonstone offers crime fiction fans the chance to read the book that is acclaimed as the very first detective novel in the English language. At a party celebrating her eighteenth birthday, Rachel Verinder wears the stunning yellow diamond she unexpectedly inherited from her uncle, unaware that it was plundered from a sacred Indian shrine fifty years earlier. When the jewel goes missing later that night, suspicions are raised and accusations fly in all directions. Sifting through divergent accounts of what happened, the indomitable Sergeant Cuff must find the Moonstone and the truth about its mysterious disappearance. Recognised as the very first detective novel in the English language, The Moonstone (1868) earned Wilkie Collins the reputation of the godfather of the classic English detective story, with Dorothy L. Sayers declaring, ‘Nothing human is perfection, but The Moonstone comes about as near perfection as anything of the kind ever can.’ For 150 years its intricate locked-room puzzle and multiple narrators have influenced generations of mystery authors. This Detective Club classic reproduces Collins’ slightly abridged version of the novel, originally designed to make the long nineteenth-century text more accessible. It is introduced by the iconic crime writing duo G.D.H. and M. Cole, who analyse the popularity of Wilkie Collins’ groundbreaking sensation novel.


A most handsome edition of this iconic crime story, often referred to as the first real detective story ever. This is apparently the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Moonstone and I have to say this is a fitting tribute from Harper Collins to a classic of English Literature.

Monica Edwards: Cargo of Horses

Published by Girls Gone By Publishers 14th November 2017


As soon as Tamzin and Rissa learn that the white ship carries a cargo of horses which are being taken abroad to be slaughtered and sold as meat, they become determined to rescue them from this dreadful fate. This proved to be the most difficult thing they have ever done, and they find themselves involved in an adventure even more exciting than their previous ones. But once again they have the staunch help of friends. Meryon and Roger, of course, are with them heart and soul, so are the kindly Merrow family, and Old Jim and the fishermen play their part in formidable raiding parties on both sea and on land. And there is Jonah, the tough unloved boy whom they rescue and who proves so great an ally. Yet there are times when the difficulties of their undertaking seem almost too great and the highest courage and resourcefulness is demanded from each one of them.The setting of the story is Romney Marsh, which Monica Edwards describes so vividly that you can clearly see the wide spaces, the stormy skies and the boats tossing on the sea. And you can feel, as if you had been there, the warm friendliness of the Merrow's farm, the exciting atmosphere of Jim's hut, and the serenity of Tamzin's own home.


As a young boy, I was obsessed with books and when the opportunity arose to join the Children's Book Club, I took it - one of the first titles that came my way was Monica Edwards's Wish For A Pony. GGBP have published some of Monica's titles, this being the latest; I hope that one day they will catch up with Wish For A Pony - it remains one of my most favourite children's books, but in the meantime Cargo Of Horses will do just fine. It is a stirring story in the Romney Marsh series, and sees Tamzin and Rissa attempting to put a stop to the cruel and horrific practice of shipping horses to Europe for human consumption. A brilliant package from GGBP!

Lorna Hill: Dancer on Holiday

Published by Girls Gone By Publishers 21st November 2017


We are publishing Dancer on Holiday because we have had many requests to do so - it is the final title in the Dancing Peel series, and ties up lots of loose ends. The original blurb reads:
  A broken ankle gives Annette Dancy an unexpected holiday at home, in the lovely old peel-tower where her family lives. It is on this visit that she is forced to take stock of her real feelings for the faithful Angus, and this sixth book in Lorna Hill’s Dancing Peel series brings the story up to the time of her marriage - but not before some unhappy misunderstandings have arisen, misunderstandings  in which their beautiful neighbour Marjorie plays only too great a part.
   However, while other preoccupations may absorb Annette, her profession, which offers some exciting new opportunities, still remains a large part of her life, and there is much of the colourful world of ballet in the story; much, too, of the wonderful painting of the Northumbrian scene which readers of these books expect of Mrs Hill. 
   Ann Mackie-Hunter has written the introduction.   


This latest title from GGBP concludes their Lorna Hill Dancing Peel series - a slim volume by anyone's standards, but important nonetheless. A lovely addition to the collection.


Helen Barber: A Chalet School Headmistress

Published by Girls Gone By Publishers 22nd November 2017


A Chalet School Headmistress is set during the same term as The Mystery at the Chalet School and was first published by GGBP in 2004. We are  delighted to be republishing it now.
   ‘Bill’ has now been officially promoted as Miss Annersley’s Co-Head, and is determined to show herself worthy of the honour. Naughty Middles, a disruptive Junior and a spiteful Senior all combine to test her leadership skills. ‘Bill’ demonstrates that she shares to the full her colleague’s well-known ability with girls of all ages. But her responsibilities are not confined to the girls under her care, and when she is confronted with a mistress’s personal tragedy, ‘Bill’ faces her greatest challenge. 
   Helen Barber has written a brand new short story especially for this new edition, A Storm in a Teacup.
   A Chalet School Headmistress was published on 22nd November 2017. 


GGBP specialises in publishing the Chalet School series and some of the many fine spin-offs that have been written by Chalet School devotees, of which Helen Barber just happens to be my personal favourite. I'm no expert, but I wouldn't mind betting I'm not the only reader who could think that A Chalet School Headmistress was written by Elinor M Brent-Dyer herself! Superlative writing from Helen!


Elinor M Brent-Dyer: Tom Tackles The Chalet School

Published by Girls Gone By Publishers 26th September 2017


Tom is CS No 19b, although it was published by Chambers as  no 31. This is because it had originally been published over two years in the Second and Third Chalet Books for Girls. GGBP first published Tom in 2004, taking the cover from an illustration in the original story, and also including all the original black and white drawings. We have kept all of these in our reprint now. 
   Tom Gay should need no introduction to Chalet fans, but this is the story of her first term - including her at first difficult relationship with Daisy, culminating in a snow storm and her trapping of ‘burglars’ in the stock-room at night, and of course the making of her first dolls’ house.
   Katherine Bruce has written a brilliant short story, showing just how Tom comes to be at the CS.  


A boy at the Chalet School? Surely not? No, don't panic - Tom is a girl. GGBP first publised this title back in 2004 but this reprint is a  most welcome addition to their Chalet School series.



Mabel Esther Allan: Swiss School

Published by Girls Gone By Publishing 4th July 2017


Felicity is dismayed to learn that, for health reasons, she must leave her beloved co-educational school in Wales and go to a girls school in Switzerland. However, she determines to face the new life and the more restricted ways of the Swiss School as cheerfully as she can. She is helped by her delight in the great mountains that surround the lovely Wildenthal and by all the joys of the winter - skating, ski-ing and tobogganing. 
   She makes friends at once with some Swiss girls and with the only day girl, Carola, who is English. Her friendship with Carola, and with Tamina, a weak but charming younger girl, leads her into trouble and adventure, especially as she makes an enemy of Tamina’s one time friend, Brigitta.
   Gradually Felicity learns to love Switzerland and to resign herself to the ways of the new school, and in the end most of the problems find happy solutions. 
   We have included a short story Ski Jump which features Felicity and really adds something to Swiss School.


I don't believe for one moment that Mabel Esther Allan was trying to cash in on EBD's success with the Chalet School, it's simply the fact that Switzerland is such an inspired setting for a girls' boarding school. The adventures are stock-in-trade for such stories, but the author handles them well, and the book has some fascinating characters to populate it. Another brilliant title from GGBP...


Captain Rory O'Conor: Running A Big Ship

Published by Casemate 13th July 2017


Having completed the highly prestigious commission of commanding HMS Hood, then the most famous warship in the world, in her halcyon pre-war years, Captain Rory O'Conor brought together all of his experiences to create the ultimate officers' guide for running a steel fighting ship.

Published in 1937, and now recognized as one of the most influential, yet highly accessible, volumes on naval command and organisation, Running a Big Ship provides a truly unique insight into life at sea during the Second World War.

O'Conor famously commenced the book with his ‘ten commandments', a concise code of orders that comprise ‘a little that everyone must know' so that every man knows what is required of him, whilst each was equally ‘entitled to the understanding and consideration of his officers'. Credited with making a significant contribution to the wartime navy's esprit de corps, the book had a lasting impact on shipboard understanding and relations on vessels large and small, as young, diverse crews withstood the considerable strain of actual war.
Such credit is due in large part to the main body of the book which sets out each of the duties required of a Royal Navy Officer in detailed, clear terms and through O'Conor's insightful advice. In effect, a vital and essential guide for those set in authority to learn ‘the great deal that relatively few need to know'. Such knowledge ranges from tips on the issuing and execution of orders, through to attendance requirements, the treatment of defaulters and shipboard theft, midshipmen training, ceremonies, uniforms, cleanliness aboard ship and on through to the management of the Fleet Air Arm and the high-speed service boats. There are fascinating observations and explanations of the finer points of bugle calls, the treatment of guests and complete instructions for many forms of recreation from cinema to regattas.

Running a Big Ship truly sets us below decks and at sea in the Second World War. The book was described by The Naval Review as detailing so much that "… Oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed" and is complete with an extensive introduction by one of the foremost historians of the Royal Navy, Brian Lavery.


Fascinating insight into running a "big ship", essential reading at the time and a welcome facsimile for today's avid collectors.


The War Office, United States War Department: The Jungle Survival Pocket Manual

Published by Casemate 1th July 2017


During the Second World War, British and American soldiers were sent to new and challenging theatres, fighting to survive not only encounters with the enemy but the landscape they found themselves in. Being posted to South-East Asia and the Pacific to fight the Japanese meant soldiers had to learn to survive in the tropics, fighting and living in endless steamy jungle and perilous swamps. In this environment, men had to be able to take care of themselves rather than relying on their unit to supply their needs, something which did not come naturally to the many soldiers born and raised in cities.

To help them in this completely alien environment, the British and US armies produced a number of official training manuals and guides to explain to the men how to identify and fight the Japanese and avoid their deadly panji traps, but also ‘jungle lore': how to find and cook plants that were safe to eat; which animals and insects could kill them; how to identify and treat tropical illnesses and diseases; and avoid the dangers of polluted water and cannibals. The Jungle Survival Pocket Manual brings together the official manuals and information that enabled the Allies to fight in Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Indochina, Singapore and the Pacific Islands and win the war.

Clothbound and presented in the Pool of London Press retro-styling, this volume will appeal to those interested in the South-East Asian and Pacific theatres of WWII as well as those researching their family history. It makes a unique gift for all those interested in survival techniques, and those of travelling to Asia. The Jungle Survival Pocket Manual is complete with some 20 diagrams and drawings reproduced from the original guides.


Another brilliant facsimile from Casemate - this time essential reading for anyone being sent to fight in climes with which most men were unfamiliar.




The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.