If you're a bookworm like me, you've probably jotted down several titles to search for just because they sound so jolly good. Yet sometimes they're hard to track down, especially if they're old or out of print. I was thirteen years old the first time this frustrating wild goose chase happened to me. And since then, I've come up with another stack of super-enticing sounding books we'll never have an opportunity to read ever. This is because they only exist within the fictional worlds of others. They were written by characters from novels, and the only way we'll ever get to read them is to travel into the worlds in which they're set. Here is a list of titles I would surely love to read if only they were available to me. All I can do is highlight the books in which they're entrenched. See if you can add to it.
1) The Moral of the Rose
This is the bestseller written by Emily Byrd Starr just when she'd given up hope of becoming a great writer. It starts off as a string of yarns about a family named Applegath, which Emily wrote to help Aunt Elizabeth recuperate from a broken leg. But the final product turns out to be a 'witty, sparkling rill of comedy in which characters troop into Emily's consciousness demanding a local habitation and a name.' Cousin Jimmy clandestinely sends the manuscript to one of Canada's leading publishing houses, and surprises Emily with a letter of its acceptance. Its subsequent contradictory reviews helps fans like me wish we could read the novel too, to add our own opinions to the mix.
It's a shocking expose about the true lives of coloured maids in southern Mississippi, contained within a novel that has an almost identical name. Help is written by Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan, who puts her reputation on the line to tell the dirty truth about racism people would prefer not to hear. Her co-authors Aibileen and Minny insist on remaining anonymous, since their lives will be utterly destroyed should anyone guess their identities. It's blatantly obvious to the white female employers whose lives are bared for all to see, but of course it's in their own best interest to purse their lips and refuse to claim their characters. After seeing how hard and furtively the heroic trio worked on this book, I would have loved to read it. (See my review of The Help)
3) The Transfiguration of the Commonplace
This religious self-help book is written by Sandy Stranger, who was once one of the schoolgirls in her teacher Miss Jean Brodie's favoured set. Sandy apparently grows from a sly and cynical young girl to become Mother Superior of a convent. Her own amazing development is enough to make me want to read the acclaimed book she eventually writes. It's title is most fascinating too. I probably would have preferred this book to The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie itself. (See my review of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)
4) Disturber of the Peace
This is literally Miss Buncle's Book. Quiet, retiring author Barbara Buncle has spared nobody. All of her neighbours are presented larger than life, warts and all, making it obvious to the townspeople that the fictional world is in actual fact a carbon copy of their town. The indignant victims of Barbara's sharp pen long more than anything to figure out the identity of author 'John Smith' so they can pay him out. But nobody would ever dream of suspecting mousy, unassuming Miss Buncle. (See my review of Miss Buncle's Book)
5) Magical Me
Gilderoy Lockhart, the flamboyant celebrity wizard, is signing copies of his hot-off-the-press autobiography at Flourish and Blotts bookshop. He tugs poor, bashful Harry to stand beside him for a cheesy photo shoot, then drops the bombshell that he's the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. And this is only the latest of the pretentious, self-aggrandising books he's written, which comprise most of their second year curriculum. Only later do Harry and his friends discover Gilderoy's fraudulent secret. He has plagiarised almost every incident in his books, then wiped clear the memories of the true greats. Okay, this book might be the most groan-worthy on my list, but I guess it'd still be worth reading for the laughs.
6) The Lifebook of Captain Jim
Here's a second offering from Lucy Maud Montgomery, because her characters seem to write such great books. Captain James Boyd, the lovable retired sea captain, has lived a fantastic and eventful life, but lacks the writing skills to do his experiences justice. When professional author Owen Ford comes to town, he instantly recognises the opportunity set before him. Owen does a series of interviews and gives the old man's memories the treatment they deserve, making the Lifebook a bestseller. How I would have loved a copy of my own, when I was reading about it in Anne's House of Dreams.
7) Songs and Sonnets
Mac Campbell, a nerdy and unpolished young hero from Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom has produced a book of poems that has wowed the world. It's said to 'smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects.' Now he's hailed as a young genius, and the boy cousins who used to tease him regard him with respect. To the adults, 'their Ugly Duckling is now considered the most promising young swan of the flock.' And best of all, his little book helps him wow the socks off his cousin Rose, since she finds his verses so awesome and seductive. How I wished Alcott had given us a sample or two of what he wrote. I suspect she held back because she'd given his brilliance such a awesome build-up, she herself probably doubted she could deliver.
8) Distributing Heaven
I had to have a go at this myself, so I'm finishing with one of my own, which I wrote way back in 2009 when my kids were small. I got the idea straight after the huge disappointment of being unable to find the sequel to a book I adored. So I wrote my story in such a way that the same thing happens to my young hero, Jerome Bowman. He loves a memoir named Distributing Heaven written by a man called Gareth Edgley, and goes to great lengths to locate its sequel. The back cover tantalises him with the promise, 'If you thought this story was gripping, you've seen nothing yet!' But it's all in vain, no matter where his search takes him, until a twist at the very end. I named my own book A Design of Gold after the elusive title he was searching for, and I guess the irony is that paperback copies of my own book are now quite rare. (See here)
Which titles from this list do you join me in longing to read? Can you mention any others to add to my list.