Well, that’s not actually the title of the book. What I’m really talking about is “The Mystery of Castle Croome” by Hilda Boden. Let’s go back to the beginning….
I was somewhere in the range of about 10 years old, and I found a new mystery book in the school library. Mysteries were always my favorites, and I hungrily gobbled them up. Somehow this book made such an impression on me, that many years later (ok, decades) I was still trying to find a copy. From time to time I would hunt around the internet looking for a book called “The Mystery of Castle Keep”, but I kept coming up empty. I had no real recollection of the book, just a few minor details which I’ll come back to in a minute.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. On an episode of the Books on the Nightstand podcast, one of the hosts, Ann Kingman, mentioned a website where a community of readers will help you find a book. I headed over to http://www.whatsthatbook.com and added a post looking for the book. I put in as much as I could remember – including how I remembered the cover of the book. Then I thought I’d just wait it out and see if anyone could help.
Enter my co-worker Amy. As I was explaining the website to her and what I remembered about the book, she was feverishly Googling the title “The Mystery of Castle Keep”. After a few minutes she asked if it could possibly be “The Mystery of Castle Croome”, which she had just found on Amazon. Now I wasn’t so sure of the title. But I was able to tell her that I distinctly remembered that the cover was dark blue, with the silhouette in black of a castle or large mansion in the distance up on a hill. She showed me the cover on Amazon – that wasn’t it. But wait, there was another edition for sale. She clicked on the link, and lo and behold, there was the blue and black cover with a castle on a hill. I was absolutely sure that was the book that I had been looking for, so for the price of about $6 I bought it. When it arrived I read the synopsis on the inside flap where it mentions twins, Pat and Penny. Eureka! I found it. For some reason, I remembered their names. Finding this book was pretty incredible. Apparently it was from a school library, just not from a school near here. I was also fascinated to see that the card was originally stamped in 1969, which would have put it right around the same time that I first read it. It must have been moderately popular, as the stamps continued until 2003. So not only did I find the book, but I found a little bit of book history too.
What is it about a book that can draw us in so completely that it stays with us forever, regardless of how old we were when we first read it? People who love books know that feeling, and whether you’re a book blogger or someone who just likes to recommend books, it’s not always that easy to put those feelings into words. Is it enough to say “it’s so good, you just have to read it”? Some books you can easily describe, but there are always those sweet few that leave you with a sense of never being able to do them justice with just your words. These are the books we treasure.
So now I’m left with the dilemma, do I read it and take the chance that it’s not as special as I remember, or do I just add it to my book shelves and keep the memory? Stay tuned…
Please feel free to leave a comment. Are there any books that you remember from your childhood, and are you worried that if you re-read them they won’t live up to your fond memories?