Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Sack of Hay

I've spent the past couple of days visiting Ludlow and Hay-on-Wye (the latter with my friend from Ludlow). The visit was a little spoilt by a (non-dangerous) car-related thing which was my fault, and very annoying. I tried not to let me stupidity cast a cloud over a day of book-filled fun, and it certainly didn't diminish my book-buying capabilities: I came back 19 books the richer, and it includes some choices which are endearing eccentric, even for me. (Yes, I tend to be called eccentric on this blog, but I thought I'd throw in 'endearing' too... let's run with it.) This photo is in Richard Booth Books - I want to move into their shop, please.

Jenny Wren - E.H. Young
The Vicar's Daughter - E.H. Young

I've been very fortunate with stumbling across Young novels, and must have nearly all of them by now... I even aided and abetted Young novel buying - my friend bought William and The Misses Mallett.

Through a Glass Darkly: the life of Patrick Hamilton - Nigel Jones
A biography of my favourite author du jour, for when I finally get around reading the other Hamilton novels I've been hoarding.

The Letters of Evelyn Waugh - ed. Mark Amory
Had my eye of this book for a while, and it was less than a third of the cover price - hurrah!

The Corner That Held Them - Sylvia Townsend Warner
I was hoping to find some STW short stories in Hay, and although I didn't manage to, I did manage to get another of her novels.

Jill - Philip Larkin
My friend Clare loves this, so I've kept an eye out for a while. Plus it has a nice cover of someone on a bicycle.

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray - Arthur Wing Pinero
Pinero's plays are bizarrely difficult to find in bookshops, given how influential he was, so I snapped up this one.

The Victorian Chaise-Longue - Marghanita Laski
Not the Persephone edition (which I read from the library a while ago) but an old Penguin - fancied having this on the shelf.

The Swan in the Evening - Rosamond Lehmann
Autobiographical fragment of an author I really *will* read one day...

Safety Pins - Christopher Morley
A hopefully amusing collection of essays by the author of Parnassus on Wheels - my housemate Debs has already stolen it from me, and read out excerpts which made me guffaw.

Shaving Through The Blitz - G.W. Stonier
Great title! This looks like it might be akin to 'Mr. Miniver', had that book existed.

The Ballad of Peckham Rye - Muriel Spark
I just keep buying those Spark books... this one has the advantage that my supervisor told me to read it, and fools me into thinking that the trip to Hay was essentially study.

A Reckoning - May Sarton
Blame Thomas.

Messages from My Father - Calvin Trillin
See above.

A Baker's Dozen - Llewelyn Powys
I have read around the Powys family, and thought I'd read a little more - Llewelyn Powys' father (and thus presumably Littelton's, T.F.'s and John Cowper's) was a vicar in Montacute - a beautiful village near our home in Somerset - and this little book is a collection of essay memories about his childhood.

The Shakespeare Wallah - Geoffrey Kendal
I didn't realise Felicity Kendal's father had written this book - I loved her autobiography/biography of him White Cargo, and this book will be a fantastic complementary read.

The Island of the Colorblind - Oliver Sacks
The other day I asked people on Facebook to recommend Oliver Sacks titles, since I found The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat fascinating. I don't think anyone mentioned this, but it looks really interesting... does what it says on the tin.

...and now for my favourite two finds of the day...

Gin & Ginger - Lady Kitty Vincent
Lipstick - Lady Kitty Vincent

These books, from 1927 and 1925, are silly, comic sketches in the vein of Joyce Dennys' lighter books - illustrated with fun pictures by 'Fish'. I'd never heard of them before, but they're irresistible. Exactly the sort of thing I lap up. Lipstick starts "No, my dear, I cannot say that I really know the Bishop of Runnymede". I think these will go straight to the top of my pile... can't wait.


  1. What a successful trip! Shaving Through the Blitz and A Baker's Dozen both have me intriged and the Lady Kitty Vincent books just look delightful! I would certainly find it difficult to resist anything with illustrations by 'Fish'!

  2. wow the illustration in that book is so cool. i love vintage stuff like that.

  3. I am actually sick with envy -- the first two books were enough to induce this. When I return to my native soil I think I must take a trip to Hay. Well done. Sorry about the car, though.

  4. That should have been thr first three, of course -- the two Youngs and the Hamilton biog.

  5. I don't see how one can possibly read all of these books...

  6. Nice haul! I had to lol at how you rationalized the trip by finding one "required" book. :) The Morley short stories caught my eye - I'll be looking forward to hearing more about it. Have a great weekend.

  7. Calvin Trillin's non-fiction books are great, especially his food writing (he's much more adventuresome than I'll ever be). Messages from My Father is very moving, as is Family Man (about parenting and his own children).

  8. Those Lady Kitty Vincent books (what an excellent author name)look so up my street its untrue. I am really looking forward to you sharing more of them with us. I am off to find out more about these.

    Anonymous' comment made me laugh, we all know you can, but it chimed with a question I asked today on the blog.

    Sorry about the car news, eek.

  9. What a great selection! E.H. Young is a fantastic and much under rated novelist I think (you'll note that Jenny Wren is set in a boarding house and see the reason for my excitement immediately!) And Rosamond Lehmann is definitely a writer who should be up there with the greats! Those Lady Kitty books look fab too, I want, I want!

  10. It took me an embarassingly long time to understand the post title.

  11. Oh my gosh, you have to read Jill. Don't delay! Well ... perhaps you'd like to delay until the weather turns chilly again, as most of the action takes place in autumn and early winter. (I always find I enjoy a book just a little bit more when reading it in the season it is set.) But whenever you read it, you'll be rapt. Promise. Excellent choice.

  12. A trip to Hay is always a dangerous venture. It looks as though you came back with some lovely books though.

    I was wondering why 'The Second Mrs Tanqueray' rang a bell, then realised that it's the play that Matilda's aunt is out watching when her lying niece calls the fire brigade for the second time, this time in earnest, and is burned to death in Hillaire Belloc's cautionary tale! I had to memorise the poem when I was eleven and I had no idea I still remembered it until I saw that.

  13. Claire - I'm looking forward most to all the ones you mention! I love eccentric little books of essays or sketches, so will report back in due course.

    Natalie - lovely, aren't they?

    Harriet - sorry, Harriet! You should definitely take a trip when you return. Maybe we should arrange a bloggers trip there... we would ransack the town.

    Anon - Hi Paul!

    Susan - Debs (my housemate who nabbed the Morley) is loving them, and reading amusing bits aloud, so hopefully she'll write something for me about it before long. And I can rationalise anything if I try hard enough ;)

    Lisa May - thanks for the recommendation - I also bought Deadline Poet a while ago, I'm intrigued to see what his non-fic is like.

    Simon S - hope you enjoy the excerpt I posted - I think you would adore these books! And I agree, Lady Kitty Vincent is such a good name, I wonder if it's a pseudonym?

    Terri - hurrah for boarding houses! I do want to read more EHY - although Chatterton Square is probably next up.

    Thomas - haha, well done for admitting it!

    Elizabeth - I love your enthusiasm! I'll try not to forget that it's waiting for me, and will put it to one side as an autumnal book...


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