Sunday 27 September 2009

So, how many books did you THINK I'd buy?

I had a lovely time in the Lake District and Edinburgh - absolutely falling in love with that city, after spending more or less three whole days tramping its streets. I met Karen from Cornflower, which was an absolute joy. We *had* met previously, when I'd only been blogging for only a fortnight... now that we e-know each other quite well, we were able to have a really nice, bookish chat, and delicious lunch. And I was nosey and asked to look at her bookshelves... lots to approve of, and talk about, and generally all very nice!

We popped into a nearby bookshop, where Karen bought one book on my recommendation/insistence (Provincial Daughter by RM Dashwood, a sequel to EM Delafield's Provincial Lady books, and by EMD's daughter, 'Vicky' herself). I bought, um, five... and in the five days I was away, bought seventeen books. Cough. Well, you KNEW this about me when we became friends, you can't judge me now...

Here they are!

1. Everyday Quotations from Shakespeare

Goes through the plays one by one, showing where 'quotations from Shakespeare in everyday use' originated. Amusing to see which quotations were apparently in everyday use in the 1920s.

2. Elizabeth and Her German Garden - Elizabeth von Arnim

I already have the Virago copy, but this lovely little edition from 1905ish was too nice to leave, at a £1

3. The Gate of Angels - Penelope Fitzgerald
Bought on the encouragement of Karen (Cornflower blog). I loved The Bookshop by PF last year.

4. The Moving Toyshop - Edmund Crispin
Again, at least five people have told me to read this. And it came looking like one of the old-fashioned green Penguin Crimes, so I was smitten.

5. To the Is-land - Janet Frame
Volume One of her autobiography. More on Frame below...

6. Nightingale Wood - Stella Gibbons

General view is that this is sub-Cold Comfort Farm, but it was in a charity shop, so I thought why not...

7. The Other Side of the Bridge - Mary Lawson

I was very impressed by Crow Lake (wrote about here) and still get a fair few people coming to S-i-a-b through Google searches for it.

8. Manservant and Maidservant - Ivy Compton-Burnett
I've got my copy!

9. Robert and Helen - Elizabeth Jenkins
Since I was enjoying The Tortoise and the Hare...

10. Faces in the Water - Janet Frame
Been meaning to read this New Zealand author for ages, and I love novels about madness. I think I first saw her name on dovegreyreader's blog?

11. Singled Out - Virginia Nicholson
Why don't I already own this? Already been talked about lots across the blogosphere, I wanted a book by which to remember the great little independent shop in Grasmere - chose this one. The shop, Sam Read's, had only one copy of each book, but they'd been wisely and lovingly chosen. And included Miss Hargreaves...

12. Three Fantasies - John C. Powys
Looks like it might be useful for my research... apparently he uses everyday situations to explore the fantastic.

13. Adeline Mowbray - Amelia Opie
1804 novel based on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Need to read more from this period, and having appreciated Janet Todd's non-fiction Death and the Maidens about the Shelley/Wollstonecraft circle, this could be a winner.

14. Drawn From Life - EH Shepard
The second volume of Shepard's illustrated autobiography - I remember the first being charming, the writing as well as EHS's superlative drawings.

15. The Jasmine Farm - Elizabeth von Arnim
Another nice old edition of an E von A..

16. The Egg and I - Betty Macdonald
Heard good things about this, and it had a lovely cover...

17. The Rebecca Notebooks - Daphne du Maurier
I've had my eye on this for ages... every step I take with DdM seems to go downhill after Rebecca, so hopefully this will redress the balance.


  1. So many of these are wonderful. I think if you like Rebecca you'll love the notebook as you can see how the book came to be. The Janet Frames are certainly to be recommended and Drawn from life is wonderful too. I loved Gate of Angels, very Oxbridgey. I picked up Singled Out in the Red Cross shop near Magdalen earlier this year but have yet to read it. Finally, I hope you'll read the Elizabeth Jenkins very soon and tell us about it as we were expressing sadness that she only has one title in the "mainstream" over on my VVV blog.

  2. Crispin's crime novels are great fun. If you enjoy The Moving Toyshop, IMHO the best of the series are Holy Disorders and Love Lies Bleeding. But I will happily read any of them.

  3. What an impressive pile of books! Having just devoured The Tortoise and the Hare I am intrigued by your Elizabeth Jenkins. I am also jealous of your Elizabeth Von Armins, they look lovely.

    I trust you had a lovely time and did many other things that buy books, though the book buying does always tend to unintentionally become the centre of any trip, I find!

  4. Oh and forgot to say, Singled Out is brilliant, I know you will love it.

  5. What a wonderful hoard, I am most envious. I wonder how many you will acrue in London? I have to admit I dont have a single copy of any of these, shame, shame, shame but they all sound wonderful. I too have been meaning to give Janet Frame a whirl. The author Stella Duffy has enthused about her.

    I am glad to see I am not the only Simon... or person in general who buys more than one copy of a book.

    With Daphne have you tried any of her dark short stories?

  6. How lovely that you met with Cornflower, I would have been nosy and asked to see her bookshelves as well!

    Terrific bunch of books you have there Simon.

  7. How lovely to find the Elizabeth von Arnims.

    I too have The Rebecca Notebooks and one day will immerse myself in the workings of my favourite novel.

    I wasn't too impressed by Nightingale Wood but it is a VMC, a Stella Gibbons, and passes the time.

  8. What a great haul! I very much want to read Janet Frame and am particularly jealous of those books. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about them.

  9. Simon, do read The Other Side of the Bridge - it has one of the best opening chapters I can remember - you just know what's going to happen with a dead certainty,and want to shout 'don't do it!!'. You'll know what I mean when you read it.

    Carol Norton

  10. I like the sound of no 13. (you should read 'Passion' by Jude Morgan - more in the same vein. D du M's notebooks are interesting, and give a little insight into the writing process.

    I should not be surprised by the number of books bought, yet somehow I am .... I don't think I've bought that many in a week, but I wouldn't have to try very hard to do so!

  11. An excellent haul. To find out of print books by the two Elizabeths is good fortune indeed, and I look forward to hearing more about those books in particular.

  12. Five days away; eleven books purchased. I think that's just about the right ratio!
    I LOVED Singled Out, and thanks for calling my attention to Provincial Daughter.

  13. As a New Zealander I am happy to see you've gathered some Janet Frame.

  14. I actually liked The Gate of Angels better than The Bookshop, I think. Possibly just because I like universities as a setting, and I think The Bookshop is probably more evenly constructed, but I found The Gate of Angels somehow more satisfying.

  15. Hi Simon, I enjoyed 'Nightingale Wood'. It is less zany than 'Cold Comfort Farm' but still enjoyable.

  16. Not really a vacation unless you buy a book a day, I think....

  17. Simon, I am reading Singled Out now and it fabulous and amazing. I suspect you will love it too.

  18. Only 17.... when I went to Hay on Wye I came back with 22..:}

    Seriously, wonderful collection. I have the same edition of Jasmine Farm


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