The books by CS Forester have been a joy for me since 1970, when I bought a dog-eared copy of The Happy Return at a bookshop in Redditch. Over the years, I have acquired all the Hornblower works, and many of the other books that CSF produced. They are reread at frequent intervals, and never fail to delight.
There are, however, a few CSF books that I have not acquired, usually because the prices are ridiculous. Two of those are The Voyage of The Annie Marble, and The Annie Marble in Germany. All the ones that I saw until this September were, at over £60 each, far too expensive for me. But…
This year I attended the CSF Society AGM, at Walmer Castle. There I met Nicolas, the designer of the Society website, who made a presentation about his work on that site. Upon my return home, I could not resist a fresh look at the Society website, largely because of Nicolas’ presentation. I followed up a few of the links, and experienced an epiphany! There on the Abe Books website were the Annie Marble books – and at sensible prices! They were about US $22 each. Apparently, a US publisher has printed a new edition of both books, and their write up said :
“Book Description: NOTE: THIS IS NOT A FACSIMILE REPRINT. Our books are completely re-typeset and re-designed in a manner respectful of the original volume. This avoids the inevitable reproduction of aging, foxing and paper discoloration of a facsimile edition. Every page is carefully proofread to discover typos and other unwanted characters. We print on opaque, cream-coloured 70lb offset text stock. Chapter initials are in colour.“
This is the link to the appropriate page:
So I ordered both The Voyage of The Annie Marble, and The Annie Marble in Germany, and paid less than £40 for the two, including express transatlantic shipping. They arrived within a fortnight, and in perfect condition. The vendor has more of both books in stock. I have wanted these books (to read, not to collect) for years, and have never seen a copy at less than £66. To get them for about £20 each is a dream.
The reprints were actually run off in the USA in 2005. They are semi-hardback – pages glued directly to cloth spines with very stiff board covers – and are complete with dust jackets and red ribbon place markers. Size is smaller than a regular hardback, about large paperback format, I think. The map in Voyage is opposite pages 56; the two maps in Germany are loose in a folder at the back. As the vendors write-up said, the body of the text has been completely typeset by them – a few proofreading errors are evident, but not enough to be a nuisance. The maps are clearly photocopies, and the plentiful photographs are as clear as you can expect a simple camera to have produced some eighty-plus years ago.
One interesting point is that the front page is a photocopy of the original Bodley Head title page, and several rear pages are photocopies of advertisements for books that the Bodley Head were currently selling in the 1920’s.
Both of these books are descriptions of individual motorboat holidays, one in France and one in Germany. They are simple narratives of holidays that CSF and his wife clearly enjoyed. As an ex-yachtsman myself, I was a little envious! CSF’s description of the boat Annie Marble, that he designed and had made to his own unusual requirements, is fascinating.