Fool Me Once

I’m always on the hunt for stories by my favorite Christian authors. By now, you probably know who my top three are:

Isabella Alden (writing as Pansy)

Grace Livingston Hill

Marcia Livingston (writing as Mrs. C. L. Livingston)

I love finding a gem of a story that hasn’t seen the light of day in years, and making it available for others to read.

So you can imagine my excitement when I came across a book for sale that had not one—not two—but three novel-length stories by Isabella Alden!

The seller provided a helpful snapshot of the anthology’s table of contents:

I recognized the title of the first story; The Randolphs was one of the first Pansy books I ever read; but the other two Pansy titles were brand new to me. So, of course I hit the “buy now” button and claimed that book for my own!

The book arrived yesterday, and I could hardly wait to open it up and begin reading. I snuggled down in my favorite chair and turned to page 65 to read the story titled “A New Craft.”

Imagine my surprise when I saw this instead:

Image of the first page of the story with title "A New Graft on the Family Tree" at the top.

Argh! That’s not a new story, at least, not for me. I’ve had my very own hardback copy of A New Graft on the Family Tree on my bookshelf for years.

But I shook off my disappointment, remembering I still had a third story to read, Wise to Win. So I flipped to the appropriate page, took a sip of my favorite tea (to help get me back into reading mode), and dove into the story.

Image of the first page of the story with the title "Wise to Win" at the top.

I hadn’t read very far before I began to think the story sounded familiar. So I did a search of all my Pansy books and found it was word-for-word the same as One Commonplace Day, another book I already had.

Argh, again!

One Commonplace Day was originally published in 1886, so I’m not sure why it was reprinted in this 1903 anthology under a different title. I’ll confess, though, that this isn’t the first time I’ve been fooled like this. Over the years I’ve bought a few Pansy books, only to find out I already owned them under a different title:

Interrupted was republished at a later date under the title, Out in the World.

Ester Ried, Yet Speaking was republished as Following Heavenward.

And Six O’clock in the Evening was published under two different titles: Grandma’s Miracles and Stories Told at Six O’clock in the Evening.

Luckily, I caught myself before I bought Way Station, a reprint of Twenty Minutes Late.

I’m a little sad that my latest book-buying experience didn’t end the way I wanted. Still, there are a few of silver linings:

  • The remaining stories in the book are ones I haven’t read before, so I’m looking forward to enjoying them.
  • This one-hundred-and-eighteen-year-old book is in great shape! Once I’ve read it, I plan to donate it so someone else can enjoy the stories as much as I have.
  • It has illustrations! I may have already shared the stories before, but the illustrations of key moments in the Pansy stories are very nice and worth sharing in future blog posts.
Photo of open book showing one of the book's illustrations.

Will my latest book-buying experience deter me from buying other Pansy books? Absolutely not! I’ll continue to hunt for short stories and novels written by my favorite authors; and when I find them, you can bet I’ll share them on my Pansy blog.

If you haven’t visited my Isabella Alden blog yet, please follow this link. You’ll find lots of Christian books and stories to read for free. See you there!

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