A few months ago, I was reading ‘Frontier Wolf’ by Rosemary Sutcliff, a historical novel about a Roman army officer sent to England to command a fort on the Antonine Wall. I’ve been reading a lot of children’s books and young adult books lately. Mostly so I can then have Mr. C read the good ones once he’s old enough to read them, but also because I missed out on a lot of good books when I was a kid.
A few pages in the style reminded me of a book I had read when I was a kid. What was the name of that book? The more I read, the more it bothered me. It reminded me so much of a book I had read when I was about ten years old. Then I remembered that I didn’t finish that book. I had to return it to the library before I was done. This was years before libraries offered renewals of books. Once three weeks were up, you had to return the book or get fined. What was the title of that book, and was it really a Rosemary Sutcliff book ? At about the same time I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the science of memory. There’s actually a German word for this experience. The zeigarnuk effect, which is what happens when unfinished thoughts or activities weigh on the mind more than those that have been completed.
First, I checked a list of all the books she wrote. From the titles alone nothing seemed familiar. I did remember a few details of the plot though. There were two children living in a village in England where the towns people were preparing for an invasion of Vikings, and I remembered that there was a Viking holding a shield on the cover. A Google search of “Sutcliff Viking book” brought up the familiar book cover that I was trying to remember from forty or so years ago, “The Shield Ring”.
Apparently it is a difficult book to find in the U.S., at least in the hardcover edition that I remember. It was first published in 1956 and appeared in hardcover in only one edition, most of which went to the library market. Oh well, I thought, I guess I’ll never find that book, I thought.
Months later, a package arrives in the mail.
A gift from Ms. J for my birthday.