Monday 21 March 2011

Deluges of Books (Part II)

I did say that the book haul discussed the other day was but half of the recent arrivals - and here are some more. Our Vicar, Our Vicar's Wife, and myself went on a trip to Witney to find Church Green Books. Truth be told, it leaned towards the select and expensive, and there were remarkably few novels to choose from. Lots of topography, though, and I have learnt since that they are the country's best bookshop for works on bells and bellringing, but... I came away with just two books. One (not pictured) was William the Gangster - as part of my plan to gather up Richmal Crompton's William books when I stumble across them. The other was Self by Beverley Nichols.

But all was not lost - we popped into the Oxfam bookshop. I had been there a week earlier, actually, and bought Good Evening, Mrs. Craven - one of the Persephones which I somehow didn't previously own. They must have restocked their shelves, because I came out laden with some gems. Here goes...

Memento Mori - Muriel Spark
Every time I do one of these lists, I seem to come out with a Spark novel, don't I? This one is lined up for my book group later in the year, and is also the first Spark cover I've seen that I actually really like, simple as it is.

The Misses Mallett - E.H. Young
This was a rather lovely find - I've got plenty of Young novels lined up now, and this is one I've heard good things about. A rather lovely edition too.

The Return of the Solider - Rebecca West
Ok, I do already have this, but it's a different Virago Modern Classics edition - one with a really hideous cover. This one has a Vanessa Bell painting, and she's one of my favourite painters. Next time I'm in Somerset, I'll be giving away the other copy... to anyone who can cope with the cover. It really is a brilliant novel, by the by.

The Land of Green Ginger - Winifred Holtby
Don't know anything about this, but I'm not the sort of guy who can leave behind an attractive Virago, now, am I?

The Perfect Pest - Adrian Porter
This is the sort of fun, unusual little book I don't expect to find in a charity shop - from 1936, it's little comic poems accompanied by Joyce Dennys-esque sketches. I've read it already, and will post more about it soon...

And now for the other books - most of which came from the £2 bookshop in Oxford - except the first two.

The Slaves of Solitude - Patrick Hamilton
An e-friend Rhona recommended this book, and this is how she did it: "I often think it is like a dark, gothic version of The Priory, or a Panter Downs short story, a Persphone novel seen through a dark distorting glass. Maybe a bit like Barbara Comyns, Simon?" I don't think she could possibly have described this in any way more certain to make me order a copy. And when I found that a NYRB Classics edition existed, I refused to have any other copy.

Look Back in Hunger - Jo Brand
Now that I've met her (still recovering from how amazing that was) I feel I should read her autobiography - I suspect it'll be a fun read.

Instances of the Number 3 - Salley Vickers
Are there any authors you're sure you'll love, to the extent that you buy up all their work before you've read a single word of their novels? Vickers is one of several authors in that category for me...

So I Have Thought of You - Penelope Fitzgerald
You probably know that I'm a sucker for published letters of authors, and for a couple of pounds I couldn't resist this one. Now I need to read more of her novels too.

People I Wanted To Be - Gina Ochsner
I bought this short story collection entirely because of its cover.

The Easter Parade - Richard Yates
I thought Revolutionary Road was simply stunning, so next time I feel like a bit of American sombreness, I'll turn to Yates. To be honest, that mood doesn't overtake me very often - but it's good to have one on reserve.

Hanging On: Diaries vol.3 - Frances Partridge
Erik commented on my post about Henrietta Garnett that Partridge's diaries had interesting details about the family, so I thought I'd add this to my pile of Bloomsbury books.


  1. Lovely photos of your book haul indeed! Can I know what's the edition for the copy of Memento Mori you got there? I think it's the best cover I've come across for a Muriel Spark book too!

  2. I am adding to my lists and these look wonderful. I had a book by Spark (Robinson) where the cover was nice too.

  3. Michelle - it seems to have come with, or through, Time magazine - they call the publishers Time-Life, and it was published in New York... how it ended up in Witney, I don't know.

    Mystica - lovely :)

  4. A family outing to search for book treasure sounds wonderful and I for one would have had my alarm set early. You came home with some fantastic books but somewhere there is someone shaking their head that you left a book on bellringing behind!

  5. I haven't heard of that Holtby before and my immediate thought was 'I love that book!' as The Tale of the Land of Green Ginger is one of my favourite children's books by Noel Langley.

  6. That's the same copy I have of Memento Mori - it's really a great cover. I do like most of the New Directions covers of her books: they're very distinctive, and I always love having a number of books in the same edition (blame the OCD). But this cover of MM is definitely better than the New Directions one.

  7. I'm coveting the Rebecca West!

  8. There is a street in Hull called The Land of Green Ginger, I think it's the loveliest street name ever! Is the Winifred Holtby book set in Hull?

  9. No mention of the Ordnance Survey map of Oxford and area! Not one to read in one go I confess - but deserves a prominant place on the bookshelf.

  10. Darlene - haha! I'll leave campanology books to those in the know...

    Naomi - and I've not heard of that either! Although I think I must have seen someone review the Holtby during Virago Reading Week, as it rang a bell... I haven't actually read anything by Holtby yet, not even South Riding.

    Dan - we're book buddies! Ahem. I hadn't seen the New Directions Spark covers before, and I do like them more than most that I've seen. But (like you) I just love this cover.

    Audra - mitts off, it's mine! ;) Well, I'll be offering up the other version at some point...

    Joanne - I will check when I'm at home! What a lovely street name.

    Dad - true, unmentioned! It is tucked away with my map of London...

  11. The Easter Parade is my favorite book of the year, so far. I'm writing about a Yates' short story today... may quote you on the "American sombreness". What a perfect description!

  12. Stop buying so many books! I am on a Lenten fast. But I have read all of Salley Vickers and would heartily recommend them all apart from "Dancing Backwards" which is pretty rubbish. I have also read all of Richard Yates (not the short stories) and recommend them all too! lge

  13. When I worked at Houghton Mifflin, I read People I Wanted to Be and thought it was great. The stories are poignant and she's a fantastic writer. I think you'll like it for more than just the cover.


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