Cornershop Book Review #6: Ameliaranne Keeps Shop

AmeliaranneIn which we look at the Corner Shop in ‘literature’…
In the interests of academic research and a more interesting blog, we have recently taken to reading the odd book whilst propping up the counter. Not any old pulp fiction, we’ll have you know: there are strict criteria. The book must be about shop life. We wanted to know how the corner shopkeeper is being portrayed out there, and set the record straight if necessary. This exercise is also, of course, a very good way of lending gravitas to the shopkeeper’s image….
Synopsis: Ameliaranne is the eldest of six curly-haired, cutely-sketched children. They are very poor – their mother takes in washing to make ends meet – and when an invitation to a party arrives it is decided only three of the children can go as Mrs. Stiggins cannot afford new boots for the other three, whose boots have worn through. In the meantime, Ameliaranne is asked to keep shop for the village shopkeeper, Mrs. Poppet, who is off to meet her long lost sailor son. The little girl willingly agrees, and succeeds not only in selling some stuff, but also foiling an attempted robbery. We will leave you to guess the rest of this delightful tale: it isn’t hard.
Real Shop Cred: Well actually this scores 6/10 on the shop credometer.customer Notwithstanding the fact that prettily drawn lasses under a certain age shouldn’t really be left to run shops on their tods (would that it was that easy to find staff), the book actually packs in quite a lot of well-sketched corner stuff. Like the po-faced customer (to the left) flouncing out of the shop because Mrs. Poppet hadn’t asked her to run the shop. And because it sells such a wonderful range of provisions:

…candles and cheese and picture postcards, and lard and reels of cotton, and humbugs and jujubes and elastic…

Buy, borrow or avoid? Oh do buy…if you can find one. The twenty or so Amelairanne books were written in the 1920s and 30s, initially by a lady called Constance Heward, and subsequently by a range of writers (including Eleanor Farjeon): they are collectors’ items now, and we had trouble tracking down this particular edition. The most famous is the first of the series – Ameliaranne and the Green Umbrella – but they are all utterly, utterly charming.

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