Monday 25 May 2009

Recent Arrivals

I'm back from a fun weekend camping with friends in the New Forest. That sounds incredibly adventurous, when in actual fact we were at a camp site. Still, we had campfire breakfasts and inadequate showers, so it was pretty at-one-with-nature-esque. At what age does sleeping in a tent cease to be acceptable, temperature-wise? I wore more or less everything I own, and still froze.

In amongst this Spartan activity, we did pay a couple of fleeting visits to Winchester, saw a castle and the place where Jane Austen died, a
nd I bought some books (quelle surprise). This picture shows them, plus one of the review books which has come my way lately, and which I'm especially excited about.

Indiscretions of Archie - PG Wodehouse
I couldn't leave a book with this title behind, and fancied some cheerful reading after a couple of good but sad novels. Wodehouse is often quite similar, but, as I memorably said, 'If it don't broke, ain't fix it.'

Olivia - Olivia
I've seen this a few times, but never with any blurb or explanation. This slim novel is actually by Dorothy Bussy, Lytton Strachey's sister, though initially anonymous. All about a schoolgirl's 'crush' on her teacher, but apparently 'a remainder that never
in our lives do we love so deeply, desperately, selflessly, as during adolescence'. Ok then.

A Family and a Fortune - Ivy Compton-Burnett
I expressed my love for ICB back here, but haven't read one of her novels for ages.

The Listeners - Monica Dickens
Lots of us have loved MD's One Pair of Hands and One Pair of Feet, so I'm intrigued to see what happens when she turns her hand to the more sombre subject of The Samaritans.

A Fine Old Conflict - Jessica Mitford
The sequel to Hons and Rebels, another dash of Mitford never did anybody any harm. Still trying to like Jessica, currently only just above Unity in my estimation of the clan.

The Last Letters to a Friend - Rose Macaulay
I read RM's letters to a Catholic priest last year, mentioned here, during the correspondance she rediscovers her faith, and it's a very moving collection. I didn't realise there was a sequel, so snapped it up.

Maidens' Trip - Emma Smith
Thank you Alice at Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book, a reprint of Emma Smith's 1948 account of her 1943 time with the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company. The Great Western Beach was something special, I wrote about it here. I'm sure this will be equally wonderful.


  1. The listeners is one of MD's best novels, with the possible exception of Kate and Emma, and maybe Mariana (the only one I haven't read). Didn't realise there was a sequel to Hons and Rebels - one of my favourite books!

  2. Simon - I hve reviewed Maiden's Trip as you know. I simply loved it.

  3. I have been coveting a Virago edition of Olivia by Olivia for some time, now the desire has intensified.

  4. About sleeping in a tent, Young Simon: it's not the years, it's the time of year. And the quality of the sleeping bag. You have decades of happy camping ahead, if you want them.

    Nice book haul.

  5. I loved A Fine Old Conflict! It's very interesting - to follow her from one end to the other in the history of her years with Communism. (No, I've never been a sympathizer - not in the time & place where I lived.) I found her years in California especially interesting - the work she did, etc.

  6. I've just ordered Emma Watson's first book, which is out in paper finally (though still had to get it from the UK). I can't wait to get it. Lovely stack of books!

  7. Olivia was recently reissued by Vintage Classics, with the author as Dorothy Strachey. I picked up a copy out of curiosity (and with admiration for its slimness) but haven't read it yet.

  8. I love it when fellow bloggers upload their 'recent arrivals' as invariably I have never read any of them, dont own any (I do have Jessica Mitford's book) and then have a list of lots of books which I now want! Thanks Simon

  9. Simon, I read and reviewed Olivia yesterday afternoon (I tracked down the VMC) and recommend it as something light yet absorbing to while away a free weekend afternoon. It evokes infatuation well.


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