And then little Lucy became a magazine editor and lived happily ever after. The End.
December 19, 2003 9:43 AM   Subscribe

This is yet another "help me identify a book I read in childhood" question [more inside].

I don't remember the name of the book or the author. The book is set in Victorian England. The main character is an adolescent girl, and I'm pretty sure she is named Lucy. One day in school a new classmate of Lucy's recites the poem Kubla Khan. Lucy finds this new classmate quite exotic and fascinating and becomes friends with her, and her friendship with the new girl leads her into various adventures. The new girl (can't remember her name) lives with her very strange grandmother. When Lucy and her little sister Harriet are invited to this new girl's house for tea, the girl blindfolds them and leads them through a series of secret passageways to have surreptitious look at her grandmother. But when they return to the girl's room Harriet says scornfully that her blindfold wasn't on tight and so she saw that the "secret passageways" were really broken old furniture and old curtains set up in a maze. If my memory serves correctly, at the end of the book the new girl is adopted by Lucy's Aunt Olivia. Also at the end of the book Aunt Olivia announces that she plans to start a children's magazine named the Peddlar's Pack and Lucy helps to write and edit this magazine for years, taking over the editorship of it when Aunt Olivia retires. Those are all the specifics I can recall.
posted by orange swan to Writing & Language (6 answers total)
Could it be "The Friend With A Secret" by Angela Bull? Published 1967?
posted by GaelFC at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2003

I don't know what it is but I wish I had read it. It sounds like a truly excellent girl-power book.
posted by pomegranate at 6:01 AM on December 20, 2003

Hmm, it might be the Angela Bull title. After some time spent Googling, the only thing I could discover about that title is that it is set in the late Victorian era. But it seems to be approximately the right page count, and it was published in the right time frame - I am pretty sure the book would have been written in the sixties or seventies. Also the title does fit - I have a vague impression that there's some mystery about Lucy's friend.

I may just go ahead an order a $12.45 (Cdn.) copy I've located on the Chapters/Indigo used book database on the chance that it's the right one. Thanks, GaelFC. I've been racking my brains over this one for a long time and don't think I ever would have remembered the title or come across the book by accident.

As I recall, pomegranate, it was a good book - suspenseful, good characterization, well-researched historical detail, and it was almost gothic in tone - or perhaps it was a parody of a 18th century gothic novel, as the "secret tunnel" ruse might indicate. Either way that's a sophisticated concept for a children's book.
posted by orange swan at 5:13 PM on December 20, 2003

Be sure to post back and let us know if it's the right one!
posted by GaelFC at 11:32 PM on December 20, 2003

Will do. I ordered the book last night. The total was $21.46 after shipping and GST - that's not so much to risk. I hope I get it before the thread closes, but if not I'll email anyone who posts in this thread.
posted by orange swan at 8:11 AM on December 21, 2003

I picked up the package from the post office tonight - and when I got it home and opened it I jigged up and down for joy. The Friend With a Secret is indeed the same book as the one I remember - it's even the same edition as the one my friend Lorelei G. borrowed back in seventh grade and never returned - a pox on her. And now I'm reading it. I hadn't been able to recall what happened after the first 50 pages or so, and I didn't get the names quite right - it is Lucy's friend who is named Olivia, and the aunt's name is Clare.

Thanks, GaelFC! I had wanted to get ahold of this book for 18 years now and had given up hope of ever finding it.
posted by orange swan at 7:23 PM on January 15, 2004

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