Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, girl gone nova, project enterprise series
One shelf of Elizabeth Cadell Books.

One of the great pleasures of my reading life has been to collect (or glom) books by favorite authors. Sometimes it can take a LONG time to acquire all an author’s books. If the books are out of print, they can be quite expensive, or just plain not available, though having online access opened up book collecting in a big way for me. One author it has been my great delight to research and collect, is Elizabeth Cadell.

When I first stumbled onto her books in my home town library, I was working my way through the fiction shelves, going from A to Z. I was always most interested in authors that took up more than one shelf. While it is wonderful to find a book that delights you, they always end, and then you’re looking for the next great read. But there is the hope that you will love the first book by an author and then you know there are others to devour, others to hope you will like as much. And I did devour books like a hobbit goes after mushrooms.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, girl gone nova, project enterprise series
The second shelf. 😉

Elizabeth Cadell was a delightfully prolific author. From 1946 to 1987, she wrote fifty-two novels. Back then they were labeled “women’s fiction.” But they ran the gamut from the semi-autobiographical to romance to romantic mystery to hard to define. The Fledgling, for instance, is told from the point of view of young Tory Brooke who outwits a thief and smoothes the path of true love for her father.

The books are filled with quirky characters, dry British wit, and settings that included England, France, Spain, Portugal, India and the Canary Islands. I never closed one of her books without feeling like I’d been there for the duration of the story. And reading her, I became addicted to having romance woven into my fictional adventures.

Though I never met her, I feel like I know her, that she was someone I would have loved to sit and visit with. Mostly I would have loved to listen to her talk about her life. It sounds most interesting, and partially explains how she could write so vividly about such a variety of locations.

According to Cadell (taken from the back of Last Straw for Harriet), she was born and raised in India, educated in Calcutta, London and Darjeeling. She was orphaned and then widowed, left to raise two children without much money. She “tried various secretarial posts and enjoyed them all but disagreed with the system of coming to work at this time and going home at that time.” She decided to do work that allowed her to set her own hours and that’s how she became an author. She  recommends it to “all thoroughly lazy women.” (I also like to set my own hours. LOL)

Oh yeah, I would have liked her (and I hope she would have liked me.)  If you’d like to know more, her heirs released a limited edition biography and the never-before-published in the UK or US novel, Death and Miss Dane, that can be purchased from her fan site.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, girl gone nova, project enterprise series
You can see how well worn they are!

As a young reader, I did not realize that I was also learning to be a writer by reading Cadell’s novels. From her I learned the importance of having a believable supporting cast for your main characters. One of my favorite supporting characters is Cousin Clarry from The Greenwood Shady (released in the US as Brimstone in the Garden).

Consider this first sighting of Cousin Clarry: “Cousin Clarry arrived looking larger than ever. She was of average height, but her great bulk made her appear almost as broad as she was long. She wore a voluminous tweed cloak, which Elinor remembered having seen on Aunt Winifred twenty years ago. Her hat was of the kind known as a straw boater, and was affixed by a piece of black elastic to the back of her collar. Her sparse grey hair grew in a wild and uneven fringe in front and bunchy tufts behind, and looked as though she cut it herself without the aid of a glass–which afterwards proved to be the case.”

Initially Elinor is not  sure what to think about Cousin Clarry and neither does the reader, but she and I fell in love as the story proceded and at the end, I was sorry to finish the book and Elinor, well, you’ll have to read the book to find out how this unlikely friendship turns out. Spoilers, sweetie! (Sorry, just had to let loose with a Dr. Who/River Song moment.)

From her I learned to embrace my own sense of humor in my stories, to pay attention to detail, and to embrace the quiet moments with as much enthusiasm as I do my explosions. I also learned to follow my muse into whatever genre it fancied.

Early in my writing career I was told that I needed “to focus,” to figure out what it was I wanted to write and do it. When I’d point out authors who didn’t do that, I was told they could do it because _______ (fill in the blank). I have not come close to Cadell’s fifty-two books, but every one of my thirteen-going-on-more novels was something I wanted to write. That’s what I focused on and its made me very happy.

So, what about you? Are there authors you go back and visit like an old friend? Comfort reads you pull out when you’re feeling under the weather? Or books that you can’t forget, even if you don’t have time for a visit?

Because I also love comments, leave one on any blog post in July and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $10 gift card of awesomeness from AnaBanana’s Bath & Body Treats. (Check out her zombie zoaps!) Winner will be announced in my August 6, 2012 blog post.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, girl gone nova, project enterprise series

Perilously,

Pauline

Dead Spaces cover art
Be careful what you dig for…

Dead Spaces is the second book in my Big Uneasy series.

On My Classic Bookshelf: Elizabeth Cadell

30 thoughts on “On My Classic Bookshelf: Elizabeth Cadell

  • December 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm
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    Thanks for the comments. I don´t have a website. Am addicted to reading.
    once I find a prolific author that interests me I stick to them like glue! I like the light heartedness and skill of this authoress.
    Have just started with a wonderful copy of Elizabeth Cadell´s book: “My Dear Aunt Flora” and
    bought it from Abe´s books through Amazon.com. Have been waiting for over a month for”Lion in the Way”. Having nothing else to go on, I superficially went for the colorful dust jackets. I loved
    Flora, Jonny, Phyl and the whole cast of personalities, described in “My Dear . . .” The atmosphere Mrs. Cadell created
    for Rushing . . .was so real and enjoyable.
    Since the “lion” book hasn´t arrived and am on the last
    chapter of “A. Flora”, I am on the prowl again for , I think,: “The Corner Bookshop” if I can get it
    at a fairly reasonable price. For me, reading novels to escape and be entertained at night is a
    necessity of life. . . I hope that the next generation of family to Elizabeth Cadell will wake up to the fact that they could share their treasures and profit by their “goldmine”; this will, no doubt, hopefully happen soon!

    • December 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm
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      Be sure to check your library, too! That is where I first “met” Cadell, was in the library. There is also a website and a facebook page (and a yahoo loop, I think!) with a lending library. It is hard to find some of her more rare books. A lot of us have tried to talk the family into releasing the books into digital format, but so far no go.

      Here’s the FB group and it looks like someone is trying to digitize them! https://www.facebook.com/groups/174250869300195/

  • April 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm
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    Hello all…have enjoyed all your comments on Elizabeth Cadell so much…can anyone tell me
    if one can get her books online? I am traveling most of the time and can’t bring a bookshelf.
    I consider EC one of the most charming and insightful writers of her time.

    • April 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm
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      Cadell’s heirs control the rights to all of her books and no, they have not released the digital rights to any publisher, or exploited them themselves. On the loop, many of us have urged them to get the books digitized. I actually started begging back in 2002? When I first found the loop. But often heirs aren’t writers themselves, so they don’t understand the business and are wary of losing control of their parents legacy.

      I hope they change their mind. They could release the books themselves now and introduce her work to a new generation of readers. 🙁

      • April 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm
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        Thanks very much for your kind and informative reply; I do feel sad I can’t read her books
        online…I am usually far from hearth and home and would love an enchanting EC read.
        Wouldn’t it be lovely if the heirs began to enjoy and share their legacy?
        All the best and thanks again,

        • April 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm
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          I know! 🙁 If they were reasonably priced, I’d load my kindle with them and carry them everywhere. I know members of the loop have even offered to digitize the books. If they did it right, with fan support, they could get the books out w/o a huge investment. I believe her daughter controls the rights, though, and who knows what challenges she has right now? It might just feel overwhelming to her. 🙁

  • February 9, 2013 at 8:56 am
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    Thanks for the website and all your comments. I have read all of Maeve Binchy books and since she has now passed away, I was looking for an author with similar wit and style. It sounds like Elizabeth Cadell is it. Heading to the library.

    • February 9, 2013 at 10:45 am
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      Finding your next favorite author, when you hit the end of their body of work, well, that’s always challenging. When I look at the mish-mash of what I read, what I keep on my shelf and re-read, it is very interesting. In the end, it is–I believe–merely that I connect with the way an author uses words and the way they tell a story. There are few connecting threads. Sometimes I like everything an author writes. Sometimes I only like a book or two. But oh the magic when I connect and I realize they have a huge back list of titles to explore! 🙂

      • February 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm
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        Hi I can totally relate to your last sentence, I feel as though i am living in the past because E Cadell is my most favourite author ever. I compare all books to her, I have read The Corner Shop about 4 times. I really love her style of writing. I would love to find a similar writer who has written loads of books as you say above. I have 44 Cadell books but am totally stuck for The greenwood shady and Death among friends, They are available but so expensive. Happy reading.

        • February 27, 2013 at 5:02 pm
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          I went through trying to get the books about ten years ago. I sent you an email about a way to track down those two books. I’m like you, I’m a re-reader! And Cadell is one of my comfort reads. When life kicks me upside the head, I curl up with her or Georgette Heyer. Happy reading to you, too!

  • January 31, 2013 at 8:31 am
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    Hi, I also collect both Cadell and Stevenson. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been replacing my paperbacks with hardbacks where I can. The paperbacks are becoming very frail – the glue seems to dry out somehow. I don’t know how I would manage without buying off the Internet – it’s rare that you come across a Cadell in English bookshops nowadays. There are a few Stevensons, but usually not the ones I want. I would love to have both authors in digital, but that’s slow in coming. Audible have around 15 Stevensons in audio format so far which is good. I like to listen when travelling!

  • January 31, 2013 at 1:59 am
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    i just got a beautiful hardback copy of Canary Yellow with DJ, as well as Mrs. Westerly changes course and I love a lass. I had them in paperback but they’re just so nice in their original hardbacks and the jackets are so pretty and vintage.

    • January 31, 2013 at 3:53 pm
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      Hi, I also collect both Cadell and Stevenson. Over the last two or three years I have replaced my paperbacks with hardbacks where I can. I find the paperbacks are getting very frail – the glue seems to dry out somehow. I don’t know how I would manage with out the Internet – not many second hand bookshops in the Uk stock Cadell’s now. There are a few Stevensons available in charity shops, but generally not the ones I want.

      • January 31, 2013 at 4:35 pm
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        It looks to me like DES heirs are re-releasing her books. I got Miss Buncle in trade paperback size from Amazon. Looks like they might release the three older books in print. Fair Miss Fortune is one. Peter West? And one more that never released here.

        • February 1, 2013 at 7:36 am
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          Yes, I’ve heard the rumours that Peter West could be re-released. That would be good – I’ve only got it in audio at the moment. Audible keep adding to their releases of DES – they have 15 available now!

          • February 1, 2013 at 7:36 pm
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            I’ve been eying those DES audio books. I’ve picked up three so far and love them. They are so lovely to listen to.

    • January 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm
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      Sorry – I seem to be over posting! It’s just that I’m not at home just now. We’re in the Canary Islands for January and February, and our Internet connection breaks up regularly here. My apologies!

      • January 31, 2013 at 4:31 pm
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        Please don’t apologize! Love talking books! I am just iffy because i am on twin watch with my daughter in law! Love DES too!

  • January 28, 2013 at 11:51 pm
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    I am amazed how identical our bookshelves look, if I knew how, I’d send a picture of my Elizabeth Cadell bookshelf as well as the D.E. Stevenson one above it. We have many of the same editions. What do you think they’re all worth? I’ve told my husband and kids not to throw them in a thrift store box if I die without having sold them first!

    • January 29, 2013 at 7:48 am
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      The older Cadells and even some of the paperback DES’s are pretty rare. Sometimes you can find them on sites for sale. But some can go for upwards of $400. The really rare ones. Have you been to the Cadell site? There’s a facebook group, too. If the family ever releases them in digital, that might kick the prices down. The DES books are being released again, I believe. At least some of them. If you search on Amazon, you’ll see Miss Buncle’s book in new edition. You used to have to search and pay for both her books. I saw one of her paperback editions being offered for $150. But it looks like her family has a clue and is getting the books out again. Some people want the books, others just want to read them. (wry grin)

      There are a lot of DES fans on the FB page, too. It’s interesting how many authors we share on that loop. Very fun! I wish you could send a pic! That is so fun! 😀

  • January 28, 2013 at 7:54 pm
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    I was so tickled by your discovery of Elizabeth Cadell. My first book was Come be my Guest. Then I started collecting. My bookshelf looks just like yours. I think I have all of hers. Then I discovered D.E. Stevenson who write in a similar way and time and is very English.

    • January 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm
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      Oh I love DE Stevenson, too! Was just browsing through my Miss Buncle! I found three of her books I had not seen released in print here (in the States) on audio. I got two of them. I think the first is her very first book. (But it looks like someone is in process of releasing them here). Come Be My Guest is awesome!

  • January 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm
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    hi read the above with great interest, E Cadell is my most favourite author ever, I have all of her books except The Greenwood Shady. I have tried for years to purchase it , to no avail, tried e bay, amazon etc, everyone, if you know of anyone trying to sell one I would be so grateful, My favourite story by her is The Corner Shop, I must have read this at least a dozen times.

    • January 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm
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      The Greenwood Shady was called Brimstone in the Garden here in the states. Have you tried searching for that title? There is also a FB page and a lending library. If you can’t find it, I think you can check it out to read. How fun to find another EC fan! You are not alone!

      Here’s the link to her book list with alternate titles when there is one: http://www.elizabethcadell.com/cadell_table.html

    • January 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm
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      Good to hear others appreciate Cadell’s novels. I’ve been a reader and collector here in the UK for many years! I really wouldn’t like to name my favourite – there are so many. But I’m also looking for a copy of the Greenwood Shady – and also Alice Where Art Thou. Perhaps I’ll be lucky in 2013!

      • January 16, 2013 at 9:09 am
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        My dear, dear sister gave me a copy of Alice Where Art Thou for a Christmas gift some years ago! I still treasure it, because of that. I keep hoping the family will release the books into digital, so at the very least, more readers can meet and enjoy Cadell’s books. But so far, no interest there. 🙁 You might find it easier to find a copy of Greenwood Shady as Brimstone in the Garden? That’s the US version, but there seem to be more of them around. Have you hooked up with the group on facebook? There is a lending library and sometimes the members know of copies going on sale.

        • January 17, 2013 at 10:59 am
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          Yes I belong to the Cadell Facebook group, Pauline, and have bought one or two books from members. Digital versions would be great but, as you say, unlikely!

          • January 17, 2013 at 11:13 am
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            I haven’t gotten many updates from the group lately, but when members have problems, you usually see a spike there. I tried to talk them into digital oh, probably ten years ago? When they were talking about the biography. So many heirs are, IMHO, missing the boat by not releasing digitally. So many readers are looking for classic, favorite reads. And grabbing them where they find them. I think some of our group would actually do the scanning and such for them, too. Oh well… will keep my eye out for copies!

  • July 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm
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    I really enjoyed “The Painted Veil” by Somerset Maugham and all of Khaled Hosseini’s works, so Ms. Cadell’s background sounds as if her writing would be right up my alley! I’d like to recommend: A Fine Balance–by Rohinton Mistry to you.

    • July 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm
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      Many thanks for stopping by and for the rec’s! Cadell had a most interesting life, that is for sure. Back in the day, almost all the fiction was shelved together, except for mystery and SF. I don’t recall a women’s section back then. All the dividing up helps you find particular genre’s but I wonder if I would have found so many favorite authors if they hadn’t been lumped together?

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