Miss Hargreaves

“We were silent for a little while.  I think we were impressed with ourselves and each other; but most especially we were impressed by Miss Hargreaves.” (page 20)

I’ve often heard writers talk about how the characters in their stories can take on a life of their own.  How they might have started with one idea but ended up with something completely different as the characters developed.  Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker kind of takes this to a whole other level.

miss hargreaves

One day, while they are taking shelter from a storm in a church, Norman Huntley and Henry Beddow end up creating a character… Miss Connie Hargreaves.  An eccentric, elderly woman who loves music, writing poetry and traveling with her own bath.  Innocent enough, but then they take it a step further by writing a letter to their creation.  They certainly weren’t expecting what happened next!

“As she continued to pour out her torrent of talk, the hideousness of the situation came home to me.  I had accepted her.  Over and over again I began to tell her that she was making some ghastly mistake; that I didn’t know her, that my letter had been a foolish joke.  But the devil of it was I couldn’t convince myself.  It seemed to me that I did know her.” (page 62)

When a Miss Connie Hargreaves not only answers their letter but shows up for a visit, Norman in particular is in for a rough time.  He has to find a way to explain who she is to his family and friends, and he is also desperately trying to figure out what is going on and what, if anything, can be done about it.

I absolutely loved this book!  It was a pretty quick read with excellent characters (especially Miss Hargreaves) and a lot of humor.  I couldn’t help but think as I was reading this – it would have made for a great episode of Twilight Zone!

Twilight Zone-01

From The Cover: When, on the spur of a moment, Norman Huntley and his friend Henry invent an eighty-three-year-old woman called Miss Hargreaves, they are inspired to mail a letter to their new fictional friend.  It is only meant to be a silly, harmless game-until she arrives on their doorstep.  She is, to Norman’s utter disbelief, exactly as he had imagined her: eccentric and endlessly astounding.  He hadn’t imagined, however, how much havoc an imaginary octogenarian could wreak on his sleepy Buckinghamshire town.  Norman has some explaining to do, but how will he begin to explain to his friends, family, and girlfriend where Miss Hargreaves came from when he hasn’t the faintest clue himself?  Will his once-ordinary, once-peaceful life ever be the same again? And, what’s more, does he want it to be?

Just One More Thing: “Destructive thought destroys.  But it had failed to destroy.  What I realized was this; it is a thousand times more difficult to destroy than to create.  You will laugh and say I am mad; that destroying is far easier.  But it isn’t so.  Try to destroy anything – try to annihilate it.  Burn it and consider the ashes.  Then consider how easily you create.  Every time you open your mouth you create something.” (page 246)

This Edition: Paperback published by Bloomsbury (2010)

Other Books By Frank Baker: The Twisted Tree, The Birds, Allanayr, Sweet Chariot, Playing With Punch, Mr. Allenby Loses The Way, Before I Go Hence, Embers, The Downs So Free, My Friend The Enemy, Blessed Are They, Lease Of Life, Talk Of The Devil, Teresa: A Journey Out Of TimeNon-Fiction: The Road Was Free, I Follow But Myself, Call Of Cornwall

You Might Also Like: Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson


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