I am still in arrears with my library reading. This week I actually left a couple of books than I am keen to read on the shelves. But I did bring four home – here they are:
“Richard Kennedy went to work for Leonard and Virginia Woolf at their embryonic Hogarth Press in 1926, at the age of sixteen. He had no qualifications—indeed his very lack of them had caused his Uncle George to ask his friend Leonard Woolf if he could find employment for his young nephew. Thus was Richard propelled into the strange, incestuous rock pool of Bloomsbury life, and the illustrated diary he put together forty years later gives us a vivid picture of its inhabitants and their eccentric ways. As a fly on the wall in the basement at Tavistock Square, the Woolfs’ London home where they ran their Hogarth Press, Richard made the tea, printed book-jackets on the treadle press, and helped Virginia to set type. He was of no consequence to the mandarins of Bloomsbury, hence they took little notice of him. Yet his apparently vague exterior hid an acute observation and a memory unusually retentive of dialogue and detail.”
Now doesn’t that sound wonderful. It’s a short book, simply and clearly written and wonderfully illustrated.
“In Alabama, 1931, a posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and as fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, again and again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past. Intertwining historical actors and fictional characters, stirring racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism into an explosive brew, “Scottsboro” is a novel of a shocking injustice that convulsed the nation and reverberated around the world, destroyed lives, forged careers, and brought out the worst and the best in the men and women who fought for the cause.”
My second venture into this year’s Orange prize books. So far I’m a little disappointed in the first shortlisted book that I picked up (The Invention of Evrything Else by Samantha Hunt), but I’m keeping the faith and hoping for better things from this book.
“It is August 1616. The whaling ship Heartsease has ventured deep into the Arctic, but the crew must return home before the ice closes in. All, that is, save Thomas Cave. He makes a wager that he will remain there alone until the next season, though no man has yet been known to have survived a winter this far north. So he is left with provisions, shelter, and a journal – should he not live to tell the tale.”
I have read so much praise for Georgina Harding that I had to pick this up. And, judging by the few paragraphs I have read, I expect to be joining in the chorus of praise very soon.
“Mrs Bradley is visiting the picturesque village of Spey in search of a local witch when Gerald Conway, a junior master at Spey College, is found murdered. Despised by both pupils and peers, there is no shortage of suspects, but can the redoubtable Mrs Bradley use tact, wit and just a touch of black magic to make the boys and their masters divulge the truth?
I read Gladys Mitchell’s The Rising of the Moon a few years ago when it was reissued by Virago and really enjoyed it so I am very pleased to see that Vintage are reissuing a few more of her books.
Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?
And what did you find in the library this week?
See more Library Loot here.