We are home again ….

…. after a lovely week in south Devon.

Briar loved her meadow, and she was happy that her humans didn’t ever leave her to go to work or to do errands or to do other things that humans have to do without dogs.

The humans loved the peace and quiet, and the dark nights undisturbed by street lights and the like.

We all loved our cottage and some lovely countryside and riverside walks.

And we all enjoyed our daytrip to Totnes, a town we know and love. We had a lovely walk, a picnic in the park, and a wonderful trip around the town’s charity and second-hand bookshops.

So let’s talk about books!

First the charity shop finds:


I read a library copy of The Virago Book of Love and Loss years ago, I know I have many of the short stories it contains in other collections, but it is such a lovely selection of stories and authors that I had to pick up this copy.

I haven’t read Walter de la Mere since I was a child, but a lovely cover caught my eye and the story told in The Return – the story of a man who falls asleep on a grave and wakes with the spirit and face of another an – looked very promising.

Desdemona – if only you had spoken! is another Virago publication. It presents monologues that gives voices to famous women – real and fictional – ancient and modern – who never had their day. It might just be fabulous ….

Old Goriot was a very timely find – it’s my Classics Club Spin Book, I didn’t have the book. and the copy I ordered from the library didn’t arrive in time for me to take it on holiday.

Dear Departed: a Memoir by Marguerite Yourcenar  was a Virago Modern Classic that was missing from my collection, so I was delighted to spot a copy.

I already had a copy of Katherine by Anya Seton, but I knew that it was old and tatty and that the print was very small, so I picked up a lovely, recent edition that was priced at just one pound.

A copy of The Enchanted Wanderer by Nikolai Leskov was my most interesting find. There’s a shiny new copy in the library, but I don’t like the translation and I don’t like that it’s overblown, padded out with extra stories. I can’t tell you the age of the copy I found, but I can tell you that it was beautifully produced by The Foreign Languages Publishing House in Moscow.

A new hardback edition of a recent translation of Les Miserables was a lovely find, because I was finding my thick paperback edition unwieldy, and I plan to keep this copy on the dining room to read slowly and steadily,

These books alone would have sent me home happy, but more lovely finds in the town’s two second-hand bookshops turned last Wednesday into my best day for books for years – maybe the best day ever!



I love Kate O’Brien and so I was thrilled to find a copy of Pray for the Wanderer, a novel that I had never come across before and knew nothing about..

The Ikon of the Wall is a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Goudge. It was lovely to find one of her lesser known works in a Devon bookshop not too many miles from the home she loved, and the timing was wonderful, given that yesterday was the anniversary of her birth, and that Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week is in progress.

Eden Phillpotts was another author who loved Devon, and The Farm of the Dagger is set on a part of Dartmoor that I know and love, so it had to come home.

Hearts Undefeated is a Virago anthology, collecting women’s writing about all aspects of the second world war. The range of subjects and authors is wonderful; there are famous names, there are Virago authors, there are Persephone authors, and there are more besides.

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie: Letters and Diaries 1941-1973 charts a love affair, and I was so pleased to find a book from my wishlist in lovely condition.

I pounced on The Wise Virgins by Leonard Woolf – I’d wanted a copy for my Persephone collection for a very long time.

A Backward Glance by Edith Wharton – her autobiography – was a book I’d never thought to look for, because my focus has always been on her fiction, but I was delighted to find a copy.

After such good fortune I passed by the shops selling new books – nothing could live up to the gems I’d already found.

What I have to do now that we’re home again is find somewhere to put all of these books, and slow down a little. Because there are more lovely books in the world than I can read in a single lifetime.

I did do a lot of reading last week, but I’ve written about enough books tonight, so I’ll tell you about those books another time ……

32 responses

  1. Welcome back! It sounds like a lovely holiday. And what a wonderful trove of books. I think Hearts Undefeated would be at the top of my list.

  2. Glad you had a lovely break Jane and what wonderful finds! The Leskov particularly – and a Persephone! Sounds like the perfect holiday! 🙂

  3. Goodness, what a marvelous collection! And how lovely to find a lesser-known Goudge. Trawling used bookshops is still so much more fun than shopping on the Internet.

    • It was lovely to find an Elizabeth Goudge title I didn’t know so close to her home. There was another lovely edition of another book too, but as it was expensive and I already had a paperback copy I had to leave it for someone else.

  4. I read your review in the latest Persephone catalogue, and decided to look up a few of the blogs. I like yours very much! I have a couple of old Elizabeth Goudge books, and although I do have a couple of books on the go (as per usual) I think I’ll grab one off the shelf later this afternoon for a Sunday afternoon read.

    • Thank you for your kind words – it was lovely to find the new Persephone biannually when the postman delivered our accumulated post and that together with a few more of Elizabeth Goudge’s short stories will be my weekend reading treat.

  5. Glad you had a good holiday. What a fantastic haul of books. I have Love’s Civil War somewhere and read The Wise Virgins a few years ago I seem to remember really enjoying it.

  6. I’m glad you all had a lovely holiday. What a great selection of books! I haven’t read many of those but I love Les Miserables and Katherine (I have that same edition with the red spine).

    • It was an excellent week all round. I remember that loved Katherine, and I already love what I’ve read and what I know about Les Miserables, so it’s lovely to have an edition that feels so right to read.

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