When I was a little girl, people didn't have nearly as many possessions as we have now, and that included books. I loved reading and I had books which I read and reread, but a lot of them were by Enid Blyton. I enjoyed them, but even then I think I understood that they weren't particularly original. I liked the familiarity with the same situations, the predictability of the characters; but I wasn't particularly inspired by them. Mallory Towers, the Famous Five, the Secret Seven - they were pretty formulaic and that was fine. They were soothing. But they didn't fire the imagination.
The ones that I remember really loving included "Five Children and It" and others by E Nesbit, "The Cuckoo Clock" by Mrs Molesworth and "Thimble Summer" by Elizabeth Enright. They all described worlds totally unfamiliar to me: the past (with a sarcastic magic creature); the past (with a magic cuckoo clock); or America (where rain was longed for and there were exotic and never- explained things such as Kewpie dolls and slickers).
And then there was perhaps my favourite: Philippa Pearce's "Tom's Midnight Garden. That's Philippa Pearce in the picture, and till I typed the previous paragraph it had never occurred to me that Tom's situation in it is rather like Griselda's in "The Cuckoo Clock".
I did own the Nesbit, Molesworth and Enright books but I got "Tom's Midnight Garden" out of the library. As I grew older, I always remembered the title and the story (of the clock that strikes 13 in the middle of the night, which Tom goes to investigate, discovering a garden which existed in the past and a little girl who played in that garden) but I didn't remember who wrote it. It was long before the days of the internet, which makes such things easy to discover. But I found it in a shop when I was in my late teens, bought it and loved it just as much as I had when I was a child.
But there was another library book that I also really enjoyed as a child and would like to reread. I've never come across it again or spoken to anyone who remembers it. I don't recall the title but it was about a boy who - I don't remember how - is transported back into the past and finds himself in a mediaeval castle, under siege. The plot is lost to me but I remember various scenes, as I imagined them, of this boy among strangers who think he's one of them, and how bewildered he is by this.
Does this ring a bell with anyone?
"Tom's Midnight Garden" is recognised as a classic, I now realise. It may be that if I reread the castle book, I'd think it was piffle. Possibly my critical faculties weren't that good when I was nine. For example, I don't think I considered that a twentieth century boy would have some difficulty understanding the English of the mediaeval inhabitants of the castle. But I'd still like to read it again. So if anyone recognises the description, do let me know.