We are very lucky, in the bookish corner of the internet, that we are mostly immune from trolls and cruelty and unkind comments. Particularly blogs which focus on middlebrow literature or books from the mid-20th century – we are collaborative, interested, bookish folk who enjoy reading together and discovering new titles, as the response to the 1947 Club beautifully illustrated.
It thus surprised and upset me to see an attack on a new venture. That venture is the brainchild of Scott at Furrowed Middlebrow, along with Dean Street Press – they have recently reprinted books by Rachel Ferguson, Winifred Peck, and Frances Faviell. Any reprints are exciting to me – particularly when it’s an author like Rachel Ferguson, whose work I really like but which is impossible to track down. Nobody is better qualified, either in expertise or enthusiasm, than Scott. It’s all rather wonderful.
BUT – somebody going under the name of ‘Lally’ (though name may change?) has taken against it. She has gone systematically through all the Furrowed Middlebrow titles leaving 1 star reviews on Amazon. The reviews are all one or two lines, were mostly added on the day of publication, and is very unlikely that she has read any of the books. It’s spiteful, unkind, and unnecessary.
The publishers probably don’t feel they can address this – it might look petty. But I have no gains in this fight – so I can.
I’m not suggesting we go on a witch-hunt to unveil Lally. (It’s also, by the way, pointless down-rating or commenting on her reviews, as she then edits the reviews to remove the comment/down-rating.) But let’s fight negativity with positivity. If you’ve read any of the books in question (you can see them at the links above, or most of them on Amazon here) then please do rate and review them – I’ve done that for the one I have read, A Harp in Lowndes Square. We may be ambivalent about Amazon, but these ratings do matter. If any of the titles appeal, do what I’ve done and order them (some more Rachel Fergusons on the way!) – either ebooks or paperbacks.
Let’s not let spite win. Let’s turn this on its head. Let’s celebrate publishers who rescue these older titles, and show that enthusiasm on the internet can outweigh unkindness.
Phew, I feel like I’ve given a rallying speech! It was always kind of inevitable that my political voice would emerge in support of the middlebrow, wasn’t it?
UPDATE: the response has been wonderful – I knew all you lovely people would want to help support this initiative! I’m also pleased to say that many of Lally’s 1 star reviews have crept up to 2 star and 3 star reviews.