Favourite book ......

I love reading old books and thanks to my mother, who had quite the collection (of which I now own some of) I have read great old books. So I thought I would share a few with you, starting with one of my favourites “The Amazing Quest of Mr Ernest Bliss” by E Phillips Oppenheim (1917).  I don’t own my mothers copy as it has fallen to pieces (from so much reading) so after much searching I found a copy from Abe Book Sellers - it is difficult to buy and now quite rare so I won’t be surprised if you have never heard of it before (it was turned into a movie in the 1920’s, but I have never seen it). 

So what is it about?

Main character:
Mr Ernest Bliss, aged 25, very rich but in "poor health" due to sitting around all day with nothing to do. Bliss says
“You can’t image, Sir James (the doctor), how bored I really am with life. Not a soul I care about, not a thing I could take any interest in doing.  When I wake in the morning , I feel as though I’d just as soon be going back to bed. Rotten isn’t it?"
The Doctors responds by saying he isn’t interested  “Because the world is full of genuine suffering, of men and women who drift into ill health through no fault of their own, sometimes from over work, sometimes from want of necessaries of life and sometimes from their too great devotion to others

So Bliss sets himself a challenge (which the doctor thinks he will fail) - walk out of the surgery with five pounds in his pocket and not touch his wealth unless he is helping someone else in need (he will not use it for himself). He will need to earn his own living to survive for the 12 whole months, find accommodation, clothes, food etc...

The book goes through these 12 months, the suffering he witnesses, the poverty, the hunger, the sadness of life for those with nothing and it changes him. He helps people  in real need during those 12 months, however they never find out he is doing it - but he marvels at the joy on their faces when life becomes a little less tough.  He falls in love with Frances.  She is poor and has too work so hard to make ends meet.   Her life is sad and it is wearing her out, her own health is not good.


Bliss marries Frances as a poor man, so she has no idea of his wealth.  The last chapter is her being told the story - now she is a rich woman who can educate her sisters and care for those that she loves. Bliss ends by saying to Frances: "Those poor fellows taught me a lesson, those fellows and some of the people I've met during the last twelve months.  I want to try and do something for the many thousands who are up against it as we were".

It is a beautiful but sad story of life in London for those who were poor at the turn of the century  - it illustrates the grimness of the working classes.
Do you have a favourite old book that you like to read?


  1. I'd never heard of this book before but it sounds like an excellent story!

    I wonder if my library might have an old copy in their overflow section in the basement? Will have to check I think :o)

    No *old favourite* title comes readily to my mind, at least not this early in the morning :o)

    But I have enjoyed the STILLMEADOW series of books by Gladys Taber over the years, re-reading them annually.

    A favourite from childhood was *GIRL of the LIMBERLOST* by Gene Stratton Porter and I was fortunate to find a very old copy in a 2nd hand book store once!!

    Have a wonderful day!

  2. As a child, my favorite old book was Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, which I need to read again sometime. In the last few years I've fallen in love with Christy, by Catherine Marshall. It's about a young, priviledged girl who goes to serve as a teacher in Appalachia, a terribly poor and backward (pardon the unpcness of that word, but it is the best I can find to describe it!) part of our country. They made a tv series of it, but the book is much, much better. And, the kid in me still enjoys reading Trixie Belden books - a Nancy Drewesque mystery series that began in the 1950s.

  3. Dallas, I loved reading "Girl of the Limberlost" and "Freckles". These are 2 of my mums favourites.

    Val, I was a Nancy Drew girl, which is probably why I still love a good mystery such as Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes - and I like to watch Midsomer Murders. However I am hopeless and working out the killer!!

  4. I LOVED Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon as a younger girl. My husband and I absolutely love Midsomer Murders... we buy the series when we can...


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