Many Junes, by Archibald Marshall. Dodd, Mead and Company, 1920. Grey cloth hardback, Haverford College bookplate, but apart from a pale rectangle on the otherwise slightly yellowed inner front endpaper, and a minuscule torn scrap of paper still glued thereupon, none of the disfigurements that usually make ex-library copies so undesirable to the serious booklover. 1st American edition. 316 pp.
A contemporary reviewer commented drily that the title was a misnomer: the book should instead have been called ‘Many Deaths’. It’s true that there is rather more heartbreak and loss in this novel than is usual in Marshall’s extensive oeuvre, which, despite the reputation which he enjoyed during his own lifetime as ‘the successor to Anthony Trollope’, tended towards the lightweight and ‘entertaining’ rather than the heavyweight highbrow status of truly ‘literary’ fiction. But there is also some typically sparkling dialogue, and sharp characterization. Period charm as well in abundance, needless to say.
Marshall was hugely popular on the other side of the Pond; he provided an idealised picture of the United Kingdom that chimed perfectly with their fantasies of the Old Country. One contemporary American admirer (a learned professor and influential educator) wrote, rather wittily, of Marshall as follows: “[A] scholar of sixty years of age told me that these novels had given him an entirely new zest in life; and I myself, who came upon them wholly without preliminary introductions, confidently affirm the same judgment. Of all the numerous persons that I have induced to read these books, I have met with only one skeptic ; this was a shrewd, sharp-minded woman of eighty, who declared that she found them insupportably tame. I can understand this remark, for when girls reach the age of eighty they demand excitement.”
From the library of the playwright Christopher Fry, clearly a great admirer of this author. £15.00.