Stories of Famous Days – E S Brooks

This is another of the books that came out of my mammoth auction lot.  I pulled it out to read because the preface states “There never was a holiday but had its store of stories that might be told – if only the heroes and heroines thereof could find audience or opportunity.”  How could you not read a book that starts like that.

My best guess, based on the language, some of the stories and the binding, is that this book was originally published in the USA at the end of the 19th century. It is odd, quirky and interesting.

The book looks at the main high days and holidays in the calendar and tells a story or legend about each of them.  It starts with Christmas, continues with New Year’s Day, St Valentine’s Day, April Fool’s Day, May Day, Midsummer Eve, Independence Day, A Great Olympiad, Michaelmas, Hallow E’en and finishes with Thanksgiving Day.

My favourite of the stories is the April Fool played on King John by the residents of Gotham whilst he was travelling to Nottingham.

I loved the fact that all of the stories and legends were new to me.  It made reading the book a bit of an adventure.

The language also made it a bit of an adventure.  It took time to get use to the odd phrasing and obsolete words.  Despite being considerably newer I find it easier to read Shakespeare than this.  It might be that it is written in American archaic language so the sentence structure and cadence are unfamiliar too.

Not all of the stories are interesting and a couple are downright dull for children, which is who this book is aimed at.  However, I plan to pass the book onto my eldest honorary great-niece, aged 11, to see what she makes of it.

I’ll report back when I’ve heard from her.


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