Very funny, very wicked — wickedly funny and funnily wicked — and very Canadian (featuring a Mountie and set on an island much like Salt Spring), not to mention very suitable for older children:
Let’s Kill Uncle by Rohan O’Grady
From which, a bit about the children, Christie and the orphaned Barnaby, delivering bread,
And then on to Lady Syddyns. Wearing her faded purple velvet dressing gown and floppy-brimmed hat, she was, as usual, doctoring her roses.
She opened her arms to them and declared they must stop for tea.
Barnaby only smiled absently and did not answer, but Christie, pointing to the undelivered bread, declined with regret.
Surely next week then, said the old lady. They would have cucumber sandwiches and plum cake. She thumped both their heads affectionately with an insecticide sprayer, gave them each a rose and went on with her gardening.
The title page of the Bloomsbury edition is the original cover with art by Edward Gorey, which is marvellous,
[PS Edward Gorey fans should go to Boston for the new exhibition at the Athenæum, "Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey", running through early June
PPS Gorey illustrated an earlier book by Miss O'Grady, Pippin's Journal, republished as The Curse of the Montrolfes, still in print thanks to Second Chance Press]
When I read that The Bloomsbury Group would be republishing the 1963 classic Let’s Kill Uncle in July 2010, I put it on my wish list. I was never a fan of the movie version, which is not only a very bad movie and poor adaptation, but is more malice than mischief.
According to Bloomsbury’s author page, “June Skinner [aka Rohan O'Grady] did not publish her first book until she was nearly 40, and she did her writing alone in suburban West Vancouver while raising three children.” Shades of Shirley Jackson and Life Among the Savages…
This biography at abcbookworld, complete with picture, seems quite comprehensive. The ending is moving: “Discouraged by minimal recognition, a lack of literary fellowship and slim earnings, June Skinner put away two unpublished manuscripts in the early 1970s, and stopped writing altogether. At 81, she does not regret giving up the writing life. ‘The creative juices don’t need to flow through a pen’, she says.”
Thoroughly deserving of more recognition — buy a copy of Let’s Kill Uncle and The Curse of the Montrolfes today.
You can find the new edition of Let’s Kill Uncle