Thursday, February 4, 2010


I can't decide if this is a horror story, fantasy fiction, or a comedy with a dark undercurrent. But it is a well-written, original idea of a story.

Written by Frank Baker in 1940, Miss Hargreaves, tells the story of Norman Huntley and his ability to create on the spur of the moment (something his father had warned him about). I don't mean a piece of art, but a fully-formed, adult human being in the form of 80-something year old Connie Hargreaves.

Norman and his friend, Henry, make up a wild story on a rainy night while visiting a small town in Ireland. Wandering through an old Church they begin to make-up the history of an elderly woman who is the friend of a former Vicar. It's all bunk and they continue the joke elaborately describing her personality, the fact that she has a cockatoo, dog, harp, and a hip-bath that she carries with her as she travels. Leaving the church they decide to write a letter to their new, made-up friend, envisioning her to stay at the local hotel, inviting her to visit. A few days later, Norman receives a telegram from Miss Connie Hargreaves accepting his invitation.

Stunned, Norman doesn't know quite what to do or how this happening. So he and Henry go to the train station and soon see an elderly woman with a dog, cockatoo, harp, and scads of luggage descend on to the platform. I won't go any further but I was entertained as I read along wondering where this was all going to end up.

Thanks to Simon at Stuck In a Book for including it in his top 50 favorite reads.


  1. I love that you find such fun books from way back when.

  2. So glad you liked Miss H! I have a Google Alert for her now, and just love the fact that people all round the world now have an opportunity to read this wonderful novel. I so agree with your opening paragraph, that it's difficult to categorise the novel - because it is very funny, but also very moving, and with sinister tones to it as well. I read it every year, so I'll have many opportunities to think which I find uppermost!