When I was seventeen I went on a memorable family holiday.  It turned out to be the last family holiday we had while my sister and I were still living at home.  But that’s not why it was memorable.  We went to York, a city the four of us liked for different reasons, and we enjoyed discovering at and the surrounding countryside.  But that’s not what makes it memorable either.

During that fortnight we visited many bookshops and by the end of the holiday I was the proud owner of three new (to me) hardback Lorna Hill titles, all from the Wells series.  Without fully understanding my good fortune, I acquired Vicki in Venice, The Secret and Jane Leaves the Wells.

I’ve chosen the latter as my selection today because (i) the heroine is my namesake, (ii) it’s partly set in Scotland and (iii) it’s significantly different to the other books in the series.  Jane does make good and becomes a ballerina (naturally!) but she walks away from it all, realising that she doesn’t have the elusive star quality of the really great dancers – and also that there are other things in her life that are more important.

That got me wondering if there are any other fictional characters of this period (mid twentieth century) who turn their backs on what they have always wanted to achieve because they discover something more important to them.  Any suggestions?


  1. Damaris Ellerton (who dances as Mary Damayris, IIRC) in the Abbey books. Mary Lindsay in Elizabeth Goudge’s ‘The Scent of Water’, who gives up her exec job to move to the country. I don’t count Julie Lucy in the Chalet School books, because she’d barely started, and I get a bit cross about that!

    1. Yes, someone else mentioned Damaris whom, I confess, I’d forgotten about. I haven’t read Elizabeth Goudge’s books. Maybe I should? And I agree with you about Julie and getting cross! As far as Damaris goes, it is a very similar situation to Jane Foster. I think it’s more unusual in Lorna Hill’s case in that Jane appears in a ballet series where the heroines tend to be fanatically devoted to their art…

  2. I’m always careful not to recommend books/ authors, Jane – can lead to great disappointment for both parties! But she was a fairly prolific author, and wrote quite a variety of novels, of which my favourite remains ‘The Little White Horse’.

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