The Bookshop Girl - Prologue
Before we begin
You have in your hands the story of Property Jones. I hope that your copy smells of something nice - like crisp new paper, or that churchy-second-hand-book smell, or some lemonade that someone spilled on it once.
There’s a lot of story to tell, so we should get started. But the trouble with a name like ‘Property Jones’ is that people are very bothered by it, and before you can begin the story they want to know whether Property is a girl’s name or a boy’s name and whether Property can really be a name at all and what Jones has to do with it. So I will quickly explain.
Property Jones was left in a bookshop when she was five years old. Her parents walked out and left her there – just like that. She was found by Michael Jones, who was ten at the time, and who dutifully put her in the lost property cupboard.
When Netty saw this, she sighed in a sensible sort of way. Netty was Michael's mother, and owned the bookshop, and was an altogether sensible sort of person. “People aren’t property, Michael,” she explained. “You can’t put a girl in a cupboard”. But he obviously could, because he had; and Property was too little and too confused to come out of the cupboard, or to tell anyone anything useful, like her name. Netty called the police and put up posters and so on. But nobody ever came for Property.
In the end, she just stayed. She came out of the cupboard, but she never did tell them her name. These days I don’t think she even remembers it. They tried to come up with a new one for her, but Property was the only thing that stuck.
The three of them lived together in the bookshop, which is an odd thing to do, but they didn’t have anywhere else to go. And besides, they liked it there. Anyway, that is the tale of how Property Jones came by the name Property, and how she became a Jones. Now: take this page between your finger and thumb, and turn it. We can start.