I dragged home a dozen vintage novels at the bargain price of six for a dollar this morning from the Bainbridge, NY, Free Library book sale.
My Antonia by Willa Cather, a novel I remember disliking when I read it in high school. I suspect my tastes have changed. It is said to be Cather’s best novel, but it was not a bestseller in its day. Cather’s only top 10 bestseller was Shadows on the Rock (1931), a book that has sunk from sight.
The Royal Box by Frances Parkinson Keyes, the #4 bestseller in 1954, a novel I have not yet read.
Great Lion of God (1970) and Captains and Kings (1972), two of Taylor Caldwell’s late novels published after her streak of bestsellers had ended.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses by Lloyd C. Douglas, was #6 on the 1933 bestseller list.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre, the top bestseller in 1964.
Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute, 1960 #9, which I reviewed here earlier this year. Trustee is a novelistic macaroni-and-cheese, always comforting reading.
Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, first published in Austria in 1923. The Disney versions bear little resemblance to the novel, which is considered one of the first environmental novels. The edition I bought has an introduction by John Galsworthy.
I also picked up Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge was first published in 1865. It was extremely popular in its day, outselling all other books its first year except Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend.
Hans Brinker is credited with introducing the sport of speed skating to the US. It is also the source of the story about the boy who plugged a hole in the dike with his finger. I cannot be sure without more research, but I think the copy I picked up may be a first edition.
Another find at the sale was Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. The book was originally published in 1881. It has long since passed in public domain and can now be read online through Project Gutenberg as well as in various reprints.
Rounding out my purchases are two other vintage novels that didn’t make any bestseller lists. Betty Zane (1903) is a novel by Zane Gray who churned out “western novels” for 30 years or more, including several bestsellers. The White Flower (1927) is by another prolific, popular, and often critically dismissed, novelist of the early twentieth century, Grace Livingston Hill.
The visit was well worth my time and my $2.