Wednesday 16 February 2011

Edinburgh Books

Those of you who thought I'd buy myself more than 20 books in Edinburgh - well, sorry, but you lose. I did buy myself 19... and I did buy four for other people. That includes two copies of William by EH Young - one of which I gave to Karen (aka Cornflower - lovely to see her again!) and the other will be up for grabs when my review is posted. Enough about that... I'm sure you want to see the haul that (somehow) accompanied me home in the train.

Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell - Their Correspondence
This was perfect for my recent piqued interest in theatrical history and so forth - Mrs. Patrick Campbell seems such a fascinating character, and I can't wait to dip into this one. In another shop I held a book signed by Mrs. PC - but it was £75. (Which reminds me; today at work I held a book signed by Vita Sackville-West!)

The Grasshoppers Come - David Garnett
You probably know that I love Lady Into Fox; this one was on my 'should probably read' list, although I don't remember why I chose this title in particular for that list...

Moor Fires - E.H. Young
I hadn't heard of this one, and have since found it is incredibly scarce (if you don't want a nasty POD copy) - so my £2 purchase was a bit of a find! Critics do say her early novels aren't as good as her later ones, though...

The Loved and Envied - Enid Bagnold
I do believe that Carol's review of this was awarded Best Review of Virago Reading Week by Rachel - it certainly led to me picking up a copy when I spotted it.

Thunder on the Left - Christopher Morley
After loving Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookshop, I'm keen to try more Morley - and this one has an encouraging introduction from Hugh Walpole.

Designs for a Happy Home - Matthew Reynolds
I read about this on Karen's blog ages ago, so it was appropriate that I finally snared myself a copy whilst on my way to visit her.

A Model Childhood - Christa Wolf
The first of several VMCs, I have a feeling I left this in the bookshop when I was last in Edinburgh, 16 months ago. This time I was tempted enough to pick up an account of a childhood under Nazi Germany.

A View of the Harbour - Elizabeth Taylor
LibraryThing tells me I already have this... but I certainly don't have this beautiful edition. I've already promised to send my duplicate up to the friend with whom I was staying... once I find it. Also, when I bought it (in a charity bookshop) the sales assistant was a very friendly, knowledgeable man who'd read all Taylor's novels and said this was his favourite!

Our Spoons Came From Woolworths - Barbara Comyns
Ok, I knew I already owned this, but not with this cover - I love Stanley Spencer's paintings so much (and they're so Comyns-appropriate) that I couldn't leave this on the shelf.

Fraulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther - Elizabeth von Arnim
One day I will read another E von A, after loving The Enchanted April... here is more fodder, when that moment comes.

The Caravaners - Elizabeth von Arnim
And here's a bit more...

Three Came Unarmed - E. Arnot Robertson
Do you ever find, even when you've not read a word an author's written, that you're so sure you'll enjoy them that you fill your shelves with their novels? This is the fourth or fifth EAR novel to be waiting in the wings... (Picture is of McNaughtan's Bookshop, from which this and several other books came.)

William: the Pirate - Richmal Crompton
One of my ambitions this year was to accumulate as many old William books as I could, if they were a reasonable price. One down, so far!

Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary - Ruby Ferguson
Yes, I have the Persephone edition of this pleasing tale, but I couldn't resist this beautiful, interesting old edition. And the money from it went to charity... so, basically, I did good.

Maurice - E.M. Forster
Having loved Howards End (oops, still haven't written about it) I thought I'd see which EMFs I loved and which I didn't by adding more to my arsenal.

Apricots at Midnight - Adele Geras
I know little about this, but Clare (the friend whose flat I was staying in) bought it for me as she loves it and wanted me to have a copy - thanks Clare!

How Can You Bear to be Human? - Nicholas Bentley
Need I even say that I bought this entirely for the title?

Joy and Josephine - Monica Dickens
I have plenty Monica Dickens waiting to be read, but someone told me the other day that this novel is about twins - and you know how I can't resist those.

Violet to Vita - the Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West
More Bloomsbury stuff to read one day...

I was going to list the books I bought a week or two ago in London, but that'll have to wait for another day, as there's more than enough to be going on with for now!

You know the drill - read any? Want any? Thoughts, please!


  1. You poor thing only 19 books!

  2. So many interesting books! That is indeed a beautiful copy of 'A View of the Harbour'... I wish I had it - great find - and a novel that I enjoyed.
    I also covet your Just William and the cute little Penguin Monica Dickens.
    The Trefusis/Sackville-West book should be very interesting.
    What a lovely bookshop... sadly I didn't come by it when I was in Edinburgh some years ago but I know about it now for next time.
    Thanks for sharing :-)

  3. Great haul! I have that copy of Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary too. I picked mine up on a half price day at a charity book sale - I think I paid 50c. Clearly others don't read the persephone catalogues as thoroughly as I!

  4. Excellent book haul! I'm especially interested in the letters between Violet and Vita.

  5. Fantastic finds! I am envious. New York is a bit rubbish when it comes to cheap second hand books - there's the Strand dollar bins, but they never have anything that good.

    You will like The Loved and Envied. I think. I liked it. And we normally like the same books. So, you know. I am exactly the same with Elizabeth Von Arnim - I have a stack of her books as high as my thigh and have I read any of them? No. Do I want to? Yes, very much so. Why haven't I? No idea. Hope you get around to your stack soon!

  6. Wow, what a fantastic haul! The more I read of Elizabeth von Arnim's, the more I adore her. A Model Childhood looks particularly intriguing as well - just the sort of thing I'm interested in!

  7. I love shopping for books while on vacation, I don't like lugging them home though haha!

  8. Oh you lucky thing finding such a beautiful edition of Lady Rose & Mrs Memmary & in Edinburgh no less!

    I wouldn't be able to pass up original green VMCs either, even if I did already own them in another jacket. Perhaps we (and Rachel?) should do a casual read-along of an Elizabeth Von Arnim to push us into finally reading more of her work?

  9. Mystica - I know; such hardship!

    Rochester Reader - I can't for the life of me visualise what my other copy looks like... down in Somerset... but can't be as pretty as this one! McNaughtan's is on Leith Walk, and very reasonably priced!

    Provincial Homemaker - it is beautiful, isn't it? A while ago I made a habit of buying both Persephone and non-Persephone editions of their catalogue, but now I try and do it less frequently - only with special editions.

    Amanda - I wish both sides of the correspondence were there - it's just Violet to Vita, which will be fascinating, but I'll always be wondering what Vita wrote back!

    Rachel - Edinburgh really is spectacularly good for bookshops. Well, probably no better than London, but being so much smaller it's easier to do most of the bookshops in one day! I am hopeful about the Bagnold, although when I'll get to it is anyone's guess. As for the E von As... c.f. Claire B's comment below, and I'll be in touch! I think a little readalong would be great - especially if we choose a book that's actually in print! I never have...

    Claire - Your posts during Virago Reading Week certainly spurred me on finally to read more E von A (not that I have yet, but you know what I mean).

    Ash - tell me about it! Not so fun...

    Claire - brilliant idea! I'll be in touch with you and Rachel, and we can organise something.... And I was sad not to have time to make it to Glasgow this time, but some day I will!

    Harriet - hahaha, yes, quite!

  10. Our Spoons Came From Woolworths is on my shelf waiting to be read. I hadn't heard of Barbara Comyns before reading your blog. The Mrs Patrick Campbell book sound fascinating, I think it will go on my list.
    I once saw (behind glass) in a bookshop a book signed by Mark Twain. Just to see it was exciting! It was very, very expensive.

  11. well, Debs was technically correct with her estimate that you'd bought between 20 and 25. She didn't specify who they were for :)
    You are ill.

  12. Hmmm! You & Ms. VVV are certainly buying large :) I really enjoyed "View of the Harbour" - V. kindly lent me her beautiful VMC copy.

  13. All of your choices are lovely but my eye went for the Taylor right off the bat, LOVE that edition!

    And how thoughtful of you to buy extra copies of William. Does this mean that Karen will be joining us on the 24th?

  14. Wow, not quite 39, but quite a haul. I actually have Thunder on the Left on my TBR shelf but haven't gotten to it. I did want to climb into the picture of the bookshop -- it looks like a place to spend hours and hours. Happy reading!

  15. Joanne - I'm pleased to have spread the Comyns interest! To be honest, it's not her best book - but still definitely worth reading. How lovely about the Twain book - so exciting even to be near books like that!

    Mel - I suppose she was! She wins, er... the book I gave her yesterday.

    Alison - Making up for last year! I'm torn over which ET novel to read next - that one or A Wreath of Roses.

    Darlene - isn't it beautiful? Some of their cover choices are spot on. And I don't think Karen will be able to push aside her tbr pile in time to join us, sadly, but it would be lovely if she did!

    Susan - it was a lovely place! There was some organisation, but then also a corner which was obviously just overflow of all the other sections, and somewhere else where they'd simply put small books. Let me know if you read the Morley!

  16. Ve-ry nice haul Simon! I love that bookshelf along the ceiling in your photos - how cool is that?!

  17. Very nice. My guess was 22.

    And what a lovely arrangement. Definitely A Model Childhood has my interest piqued.

    Just to clarify, J&J isn't about twins (sorry) but even more blissful, about children who may -- or may not -- have been switched at birth. You aren't one of those, I suppose?

  18. Maurice is not as good a novel as Howards End, but still very good. And for 16 year old me it was like a gift from heaven. I read it all in one night,staying up until 3:30 AM on a school night.

  19. What a wonderful haul of books. There do seem to be a lot of green VMCs appearing this week, and the orihginal Comyns and Taylor covers are lovely, in very different ways. And I am particularly intrigued by The Grasshoppers Come. Mr Garnett doid seem to love his wildlife!

  20. Nice haul :)

    I've read the Monica Dickens but it was so long ago that I really can't comment on it. I must dig it off the shelf and have a re-read.

  21. Just to say that Fraulein Schmit and Mr Anstruther is my favourite Elizabeth von Arnim. You have a treat in store!

  22. Sakura - it is lovely, but what is weird is that, although I deliberately had it in the photo, I don't remember looking at any of the books on the shelf... must have been Military History or something!

    Susan D - well, I bought 23 for me and others, so very close!
    Thanks so much for the clarification about Joy and Josephine - you're very right about that being even more blissful! Although rather unlikely for me... I'm far too much like my Mum to suspect that I was switched at birth.

    Thomas - wow, that is quite an endorsement! Since I've now read a couple of his short stories and seen a completely different side, I'd be interested to see where this fits in.

    Jane - Virago Reading Week definitely put me in mind of gathering more of them - even though I have SO many unread Viragos.

    Karoline - let me know what you think of the Dickens if you reread :)

    Michelle - oo, good! Thank for letting me know.

  23. Wowsers, I thought I went crazy when I went to Yorkshire earlier in the week and bought six books... or was it seven (reporton the blog soon) this makes me feel so much better. You got so many wonderful books I wouldnt know where to start commenting on them all.

  24. Simon,I am THRILLED SKINNY that you bought Apricots at Midnight and I really hope you like it. I wrote it in 1978 or thereabouts so it's a Golden Oldie. Or an Oldie anyway. My greetings to Clare who is a woman of very discerning taste, clearly!

  25. Do you read comments this far back? If you're ever back in Edinburgh, remember to check this trail:


I've now moved to, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at