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Summary

While he is out walking, our narrator is drawn to a remote pool and finds a small box that has been hidden since Roman times. He gradually learns how to use its contents, fighting off a series of attempts to steal it, and becomes aware of a strange world hidden from our own....

Best known for his Gothic tales of the supernatural, M. R. James presents his lesser-known surreal fantasy novella. Originally written for children, this peculiar tale is now enjoyed worldwide by fans of all ages!

About the author: Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) became one of Britain's foremost medieval scholars, studying and teaching a King's College, Cambridge. However, it is not his scholarly works or achievements that he is best known for today. His first collection, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, was published in 1904. A further three volumes followed: More Ghost Stories (1911), A Thin Ghost and Other (1919) and A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories (1925).

Following an English tradition, many of the 30 tales were made into Christmas Eve entertainments and were told to friends and colleagues. Since his death his stories have been told by millions across the globe and have spawned numerous television, film, stage and radio adaptions.

Public Domain (P)2016 Spokenworld Audio & Ladbroke Audio Ltd/Fantom Publishing

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  • Gail N.
  • 17-11-18

Not much here

It is said that this was M.R. James' only novel. It hardly rises to this level and is more of a novella. Intended as a story for Jane McBryde, the daughter of one of his illustrators, it follows in the same tradition of Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) and CS Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), all of whom were Oxford scholars who wrote children's books. James was a Cambridge scholar and is still highly regarded for his medieval scholarship. But he is mainly known for writing terrifying ghost stories. James never married and some have speculated that most of his work was to expiate his own subconscious "ghosts".

There is quite a bit of imagination in this story. It all seems rather pointless however which makes for a rather dull read. James was known to be very straight laced and definitely stayed on the straight and narrow here. The best part of the story is when the main character, the so-called M (or N) is walking in the woods and follows a brook which eventually leads him to the titular five jars. Then the story takes quite a turn and we are introduced to some miniature young boys, children of the "Right People," who have some rather entertaining abilities. The most disappointing aspect of the story, given that it was written for a girl, is that the only talent possessed by the girls in the story is the ability to disappear. The best that can be said of this rather silly yarn is that it is short. I doubt children today would find it entertaining and the rather lame ending is a big let down to an adult reader.

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  • Alan K.
  • 09-12-17

Different for M.R. JAMES

Narrator was great! The story a tad bit different for James , still enjoyed it!