After a difficult couple of weeks at work my fiance recognised that I needed a spot of bibliotherapy. And so yesterday morning he suggested a trip to Redruth, home of Cornwall’s largest secondhand bookshop which has proved to be a very happy hunting ground for me in the past.
I readily agreed, and off we went.
But when we arrived the shop was shut. We were in normal opening hours, there were no notices except the one that shows opening hours, and yet there was no sign of life. peering through the window, we could see that inside some books were still on shelves but others had been boxed up.
I’ve sent an email, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We have already lost one shop in my home town, one in Helston, and two in Falmouth over the last few years. I’m doing my best to keep Cornwall’s secondhand bookshops in business, but I can’t do it alone!
We were disappointed, but we pressed on, seeking out lost gems in the market and the charity shops. We found lots of books, but nothing that either of us wanted.
On the right hand wall were bookshelves, full of tatty, aged books. And among them I found some gems.
Anne Morrison by Richmal Crompton
“Although unconsciously his character had its effect on hers, consciously he made no effort to mould her. She was the joy, comfort and relaxation of his life. He took her as she was – perfection.”
I have heard much praise for Richmal Crompton’s novels for adults. Sadly though, with the honourable exception of Family Roundabout, which has been reissued by Persephone Books, they seem to be as rare as hens’ teeth. So when I saw this little volume from the 1920s I pounced, even though I know nothing about it.
Unfinished Portrait by Mary Westmacott
“It was many years later that Celia realised exactly what her mother’s feelings were at the time. She had had a dull girlhood herself – she was passionately eager that her darling should have all the gaieties and excitements that a young girl’s life could hold.”
After I read Laura Thompson’s autobiography of Agatha Christie a couple of years ago I was very curious to read the romantic novels that Mrs Christie published under the name Mary Westmacott. They were out of print, the library couldn’t help, and so is I let it go – but when I found a 1960s paperback for a mere 85p I had to pick it up.
A Village in Italy by Beverley Nichols
“”Ooh, ye ice and snow, bless ye the Lord!” cries the vicar, with such boyish exultation that one feels he would like to run out and make a snowball, here and now, and throw it up with a shout of glee, to the grey sky … up and up till a white hand fluttered out, far above, and caught it, and turned it into a star.”
The lettering on the spine had nearly disappeared, but there was just enough left for me to spot that this was a book by Beverley Nichols that wasn’t in my collection. And when I opened it I found beautiful illustrations by Rex Whistler that would have been worth the asking price even without the writing of a beloved author.
Three wonderful books and a spot of lunch saved the day!
We returned to the car park in good spirits, and in good time to be home for low tide and take Briar down to the beach.
And then the car wouldn’t start. Fortunately we had plenty of reading material while we waited for the man from the RAC. He saved the day, Briar had her walk before the tide came in too far, and then I retired to the sofa to contemplate my books.
Not quite the day we had planned, but a lovely day nonetheless.