UNDER-APPRECIATED BOOKS

New - send along your personal favorites. This is for good books that somehow were never best sellers or were and have now been forgotten.

One that comes to mind is Brown, Harriet, Grandmother Brown's 100 Years. Atlantic, 1929.

Grandmother Brown was born around 1829 and grew up in Ohio. She speaks of her family, a solid middle-class family, very fondly. She recalls being charmed by her little sister playing with the flea blanket. That was designed to catch those troublesome fleas that plagued people.

She married and moved further west where the unkind people lived. She had a little child that didn't thrive, even though she carried it around on a pillow.

If I taught women's studies at a university, this would be required reading. An authentic piece of Americana.

Another is Keith, Agnes Newton, Three Came Home. Little-Brown. 1947. Agnes was a journalist from San Francisco who married the English manager of a rubber plantation in Borneo. It was a time for pert little memoirs by plucky women who followed their husbands to exotic places, so she wrote a popular one, Land Below the Wind.

However, in this book we find a woman who endured hardship far beyond anything most of us face. The couple made the mistake of thinking the Japanese wouldn't invade Borneo, and wound up in separate concentration camps. Agnes tells us honestly that she would not have lived if it hadn't been for their little son who was with her.

We all know about concentration camps in World War II; the prisoners were saints and the guards monsters. That was not true. Agnes brings out the horror for both sides.

After the war her husband became a forester for the United Nations and they lived in various remote places like Libya and the Philippines. She wrote excellent books about her time there, and wound up with Before the Blossoms Fall, their long-debated trip to Japan and meeting with the commandant of the camp in later years.

So, actually, Agnes Newton Keith is the author who is not appreciated nearly enough.

As I said earlier, do send me books you feel are neglected orphans. If I agree, I'll put them in.

Dee

                                                                                                        Close