It's a rather unusual story.
When my husband and I were first together in the mid-seventies, we were for a period of several months quite ludicrously impoverished. I had left teaching to take a job as a junior stage-manager in a theatre and he was working as an actor in repertory - work that was notoriously ill-paid, then as now. Our two theatres in the Midlands were, as it happened, near enough to each other for us to be able to share accommodation while we also had to pay rent for the tiny room we had in London. Most of our possessions were left behind, piled up in that little room.
Not least because it cost nothing, I read the Lymond Chronicles aloud to my husband, which enabled him to understand my passion for the novels. He still remembers them in detail. The problem was that I had brought only Game of Kings and Queens' Play with me. The others (all heavy hardbacks I had bought in palmier days) were in London, and there was no way I could have afforded the fare back to get them. Nor could I have found the money for even a paperback copy, had there been such a thing available.
We got to the end of Queens' Play and the time ahead seemed desperately empty. I was by this time not very well, and the reading was a brilliant escape from unpleasant physical sensations. The lack of that book assumed such significance that it became for a time the most important thing in my life.
The night after we finished Queens' Play, I had a dream.
In the town, there was a second-hand bookshop that I passed regularly on the bus on my way to the station, but had never been inside; to look at books and not be able to afford to buy any was unthinkable. In my dream, I walked inside this shop, went to a shelf, took down a hardback copy of Disorderly Knights, paid 50 pence for it and walked out.
In the morning, the dream was so clear in my mind that I felt compelled to test it. I told my husband about it and he, with remarkable forbearance, agreed to come with me. He waited outside while I walked inside this shop which I had never entered before, went directly to the shelf, took down the hardback copy of Disorderly Knights - the only Dorothy Dunnett they had in stock - paid 50 pence for it and walked out to my dumbfounded husband. In all, I had been inside the shop for about a minute.
The episode was at the same time quite extraordinary and totally mundane. When DD later started to write about Nicholas and his divining, I was interested because I knew from experience that a powerful desire to find can, indeed, lead a seeker to the right place.
I still have the book.
Julia L. Hart, UK