Thursday, June 11, 2009


Miracle Book? The picture is the best I could manage - my camera batteries were low and I didn't have time to run out to the store. Looking at the picture you'd never know that the book on the right is a miracle. Scuffy and olive green - but neverless a miracle. You see, it appeared out of nowhere.


This is all true but even today (it happened yesterday) I have a hard time believing it myself. The Quest of Mary Selwyn is the sequel to a book I found about ten years ago at a yard sale, Uncle Frank's Mary. I loved the first book but there was a problem. Without spoiling the plot for anyone who might someday read the books - UFM ends with a very annoying, unsatisfactory conclusion. You absolutely HAVE TO HAVE the sequel to know what happens to four main characters. The author leaves the reader with a doozy of a cliffhanger. It's like reading that the Titanic hit an iceberg and was filling with water and . . .read the sequel. So there was NO CHOICE. I had to have that sequel - wherein lies the problem.
This is a very rare book - first published in 1917. My search to find the sequel on any of the used book sites went on and on. A friend did some research at a college library and came to the conclusion that no such book existed. Somewhere inside I knew it had to exist - or I hoped anyway.
Somewhere during my search, I got one of my cousins interested in the books. A whiz at ebay, she found several of the original series (yes, it was a whole series) and was on the lookout for The Quest of Mary Selwyn. She
found a copy before I did - at a ridiculously reasonable price. The book on the left is hers - the blue one. After years of searching, I borrrowed her copy and read the book. The author did NOT disappoint! The conclusion of the story was one of those ones you remember always.
It also left me with a very - um - strange attitude. I coveted that book. I wanted my own copy. Which brought me to problem two. A few copies of The Quest began to appear on used book sites. The lowest priced one I saw was $1395. and yes, that's thousand. Gulp. While I did pay a LOT for one of the author's books - autographed, of course - there was no way I could pay that much for a book. Even my computer didn't cost that much!
So began my own quest for a lower priced book. I haunted yard sales, tag sales, garbage bins of books - hoping for that FIND. Zero. Nada. Nothing. I didn't quite give up ever owning my own copy of Mary Selwyn but it was somewhere up there with winning a lottery and buying a BMW.
Until yesterday. I set a goal to deep clean my bedroom before leaving on vacation. Yesterday I tackled the black hole of calcutta #2 (my closet being #1) - the dreaded built in bookshelves. They are so handy to stick things on that I have books, mugs, dolls, postcards, letters, cards, coins, bobby pins and various other stuff. The dust was so thick I chocked trying to wash it off.
So I'm virtuously cleaning off the shelf with my Mary Selwyn books - the pitiful few that I own - sigh - when I pull out a book I've never seen before and didn't recognize. (And yes, like a mother who knows her children's voices - I know my books! I can spot an empty slot and know what's missing.) I looked at the strange book with an eerie sense of where did this come from?
The Quest of Mary Selwyn - green cover. A book I didn't buy. A book no one gave me. A book I didn't own or steal or otherwise come into the possession of . . . a book I wanted more than any other book in the world was on my shelf. A miracle.
I now own a copy of The Quest of Mary Selwyn. I can return my cousin's - okay, I was going to return it anyway - honest - but I just liked having it for awhile. :) I own a book no one could have put there but God. Kind of gives new meaning to God giving us the desires of our heart. Pretty cool, huh?
There's even more of a mystery with this book. Scratched into the back cover with some kind of pencil are the cursive words, "Get my money in the bank in the morning." And no, I haven't a clue. But if God expects $1395, He's going to have to send it. :)

r

5 comments:

Judy said...

I wouldn't haunt my mailbox if I were you. Apparently He wanted you to have it!

nlindabrit said...

Wow! I am lost for words, Donna!

KC Sprayberry said...

Congrats on finding the penny from heaven, so to speak. Might I suggest using Amazon.com next time when you're looking for an out of print book? I filled in a 32 book series with them. Granted, shipping and handling often was more than the book, but the most I paid was $60 for a paperback. Don't tell my hubby but it was the last one, and there were only five left for sale!

Janet said...

Hi, As a kid, I read several of the old Mary Selwyn books - they were in our Catholic school library. Loved them, but it seemed we didn't have the whole series. I think we had about 4 or 5, and the last one left me hanging that maybe one of Wilhelmina's brothers had a special feeling for Mary, as they were growing up, several years after the Quest book. Kept hoping to find more, if there were any, but no such luck. Would love to read them all again, after 60+ years. Kid at heart, I guess.

Martha said...

I too have searched for these books my entire adult life. I lost track of a childhood friend in Cincinnati whoes Mother had the complete set and my friend and I read them all one summer, about age 10yrs.
The titles ai remember were: Uncle Franks Mary, The Quest of Mary Selwyn, Berta and Beth (Mary's twin sisters_ whereabouts unknown) Wilhemina... I wish the original publisher could be urged to re-issue the books. I think children would love them - esspecially with all the never ending interest in the Titanic disaster.