Two Months in Book Shopping; or How I Tried to be Moderate but Didn’t Entirely Succeed ….

I said at the end of April that I needed to slow down my bookish acquisitions, and I succeded for a while. So much so that I didn’t issue my usual month-end update at the end of May.

I bought just five books that month.


Three were the result of a single visit to the Oxfam Shop:

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder came home because I remembered Lisa writing very warmly about the author, and because when I opened it I was imediately smitten.

Storm Ahead by Monica Edwards was on the same shelf, it had a lovely cover, and so I picked it up to keep the other book company. I know that the author is much loved, I know my books is part of a series, and I hope that someone will be able to tell me if I can start in the middle.

The Piano on the Left Bank by T E Carhart caught my eye too, and I remembered that someone once told me that it was their favourite book set in Paris.

I went looking for two other books:

Moths by Ouida is on my Classics Club list and I’d planned to read an Open Library copy, but the quality of the scan was poor and so I went looking for a reasonably priced used copy. And I found one.

When I read The Young Pretenders by Edith Henrietta Fowler I knew that I would have to look for her other books, and when I spotted as signed copy of The Professor’s Children I couldn’t resist.

I was pleased with that month: I cherry-picked the books I saw on my travels and I bought home only the ones that I really, really wanted.

I backslid a little in May, partly because I still had my birthday book tokens and I decided to spend them before I forgot them. That was sensible, but I forgot to put my decisive head on and I spent rather more than I intended.



The British Library Crime Classics were heavily discounted, and so I picked four to join to the three I already own. I didn’t mean to start another collection, but I think I might have.

I read The Plantagents by Dan Jones on holiday, I wanted to follow that up with The Hollow Crown, so that one came home.

The book that I shouldn’t have picked up was Peking Picnic by Ann Bridge. I already have the book in a Virago edition but I picked up that Daunt Books edition and I should have put it down again. But I didn’t.

That was a lapse, but I have been reasonably restrained.

I bought just three books online.



I’ve been waiting for Honno to reprint Betsy Cadwaladyr: A Balaclava Nurse and I a delighted that I have a copy now.

“Elizabeth Davis – known in Wales as Betsy Cadwaladyr – was a ladies’ maid from Meirionnydd who travelled the world and gained fame as a nurse during the Crimean War. She was a dynamic character who broke free of the restrictions placed on women in Victorian times to lead a life of adventure. Journeying to many exotic parts of the globe, she came into contact with international events in the horrors of the field hospital at Balaclava, where she served under Florence Nightingale.”

Leadon Hill by Richmal Crompton has been on my list for a while and I noticed that it had fallen off the Greyladies list of books in print, so I looked to find a reasonably priced copy and when I did I snapped it up.

I was intrigued by The Shelf by Phyllis Rose when I read about the book and the project behind it.

“Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the real ground of literature, she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction.”

When Simon enthused about the book I checked the library  catalogue, and when I didn’t find the book I ordered a copy.

And that was very nearly it for the month.

I went to the Morrab Library summer fete this morning and I came away with three books.


Dark Quartet by Lynne Reid Banks – her novelisation of the Bronte story – is another book I remember being recommended.

I was delighted to find another book by Francis Brett Young I don’t have: The House Under Water looks very, very good.

And I looked at a whole line of books by Howard Spring and I couldn’t remember which ones I had. I picked out the ones that were nice editions, I looked at them closely, and the only one that I didn’t recognise was Winds of the Day. Sadly when I got home I discovered that I did have a copy, but the one I bought today is a much better copy.

I won’t be going anywhere else where there are books for sale before the end of the month.

And I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this ‘only buying books to build my personal library’ thing; and the ‘only buying books I really want to read’ thing.

Now, tell me how are you doing with book buying?

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 ……

The Story of Twenty One Books

That’s the sum of this month’s book shopping – it was an exceptionally good month.

This may be a long post, but I resolved to record all of my purchases this year.

* * * * * * *

20150328_171336These were ‘library building’ purchases. I have a dozen or so authors whose books I am gradually collecting as and when affordable copies appear.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to give back the library’s copy of The Flowering Thorn back until I had a copy to keep – that’s always the way with Margery Sharp – and I spotted a Fontana edition that was if not cheap then at least much less expensive than many. I do like Fontana paperbacks, but I have to say that in this instance the image and the tagline suggest that the artist and the writer haven’t read the books.

And the rather nondescript book that one is resting on is an first edition of ‘Return I Dare Not’ by Margaret Kennedy!

* * * * * * *

The next round of shopping was not at my expense – because I won £50 of books from Harper Collins! At first I was overwhelmed by the choice, but when I saw Vintage on the list of imprints my path became clear.


  • ‘A Long Time Ago’ filled another gap in my Margaret Kennedy collection.
  •  Remembering Darlene’s words of praise, I picked ‘Here Be Dragons’ to add to my Stella Gibbons collection
  •  ‘A Street Haunting and Other Essays’ by Virginia Woolf looked too lovely to resist
  •  Several people recommended ‘The Black Count’ by Tom Reiss after I fell in love with The Count of Monte Cristo’ so I took their advice.
  • And of course I was going to have a copy of Victoria Glendinning’s much lauded biography of Anthony Trollope!

I’d say that was £50 very well invested.

* * * * * * *

Visits to two charity shops I hadn’t been into for a long time paid dividends.


I remember my parents reading Nevil Shute and Howard Spring, I loved the books from their shelves that I read years ago, and so I was delighted to find two titles I didn’t know in lovely editions.

I saw ‘Death of an Avid Reader’ by Frances Brody in the library and though I liked the look of it I didn’t pick it up because I knew that I had copies of earlier books in the same series at home unread. But when I spotted a like new copy I had to bring it home.

I was always going to pounce on a book by Francis Brett Young that I didn’t have on my shelves. I love his writing. I hesitated over this one because it’s a history of England in verse, but in the end I decided that I didn’t pick this one up I might never see another copy and I might live to regret it. When I came home I remembered that I loved the extract I knew, and I knew that I had made the right decision.

* * * * * * *

I picked up two more books when I dropped off several bags of books to another charity shop.

20150328_171629A lovely hardback edition of the collected stories of Jane Gardam that was only published last year for £2 was a wonderful bargain.

I don’t know much about R C Hutchison – and the dust jacket of this book doesn’t give much away – but I picked the book up because it was in condition and it clearly dated from one of my favourite eras. I found some 1950s leaflets from the reprints of society, that somebody must have used as bookmarks inside, adverting authors including Winifred Holtby, Somerset Maugham, Howard Spring and Margery Sharp. I too that as a sign that I should buy the book. When I got home and looked up Hutchinson I found that he had been reissued by Faber Finds and by Bloomsbury Reader, which has to be a good sign.

* * * * *

And then there was the Oxfam Shop.


I can only assume that someone with very similar taste to me had been clearing out, because among lots of books I already own I found:

  • Two more by Jane Gardam
  •  Two British Library Crime Classics I I hadn’t meant to start collecting but now I have four and I think maybe I am.
  • Childhood memoirs by Marcel Pagnol, whose books inspired two of my favourite films – ‘Jean de Florette’ and ‘Manon Du Source.’

I looked in again next time I was passing, just in case there were any more. There weren’t, but I found this.

I know the library have copies, but it was such a nice set.

* * * * * * *

Just one more – a brand new hardback that I just had to run out and buy – another  ‘library building’ purchase.


“The winter of 1924: Edith Olivier, alone for the first time at the age of fifty-one, thought her life had come to an end. For Rex Whistler, a nineteen-year-old art student, life was just beginning. Together, they embarked on an intimate and unlikely friendship that would transform their lives. Gradually Edith’s world opened up and she became a writer. Her home, the Daye House, in a wooded corner of the Wilton estate, became a sanctuary for Whistler and the other brilliant and beautiful younger men of her circle: among them Siegfried Sassoon, Stephen Tennant, William Walton, John Betjeman, the Sitwells and Cecil Beaton – for whom she was ‘all the muses’.

Set against a backdrop of the madcap parties of the 1920s, the sophistication of the 1930s and the drama and austerity of the Second World War and with an extraordinary cast of friends and acquaintances, Anna Thomasson brings to life, for the first time, the fascinating, and curious, friendship of a bluestocking and a bright young thing.“

* * * * * * *

I’ve stayed out of bookshops today, so that is definitely it for March.

It’s been a bit mad – some lovely review copies have landed too – but there won’t be many months like that.

Though we’ll be visiting one or two bookshops when we have a week’s holiday in Devon next month …..

So that was January ….

…. the last week went missing, thanks to a horrible cough and cold,  a tricky few days when I went back to work, and a computer that started playing up horribly, and in the end had to have it’s factory settings restored.


But still I’ve managed to read more this month than I have in a long time:

‘The Lodger’ by Louisa Treger
‘The Faithful Servant’s by Margery Sharp (re-read)
‘The Curiosity Cabinet’ by Catherine Czerkawska
‘Jill’ by Amy Dillwyn
‘The Crooked House’ by Christobel Kent
‘The Prime Minister’ by Anthony Trollope
‘Linnets and Valerians’ by Elizabeth Goudge
‘Weathering’ by Lucy Wood
‘Enchanter’s Nightshade’ by Ann Bridge
‘The Young Pretenders’ by Edith Henrietta Fowler
‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent
‘The Gipsy in the Parlour’ by Margery Sharp
‘Don’t Let Him Know’ by Sandip Roy
‘The Duke’s Children’ by Anthony Trollope

I have to give great credit to the TBR dare, for keeping me away from the library and making me realise how many great books have been waiting on my shelves for far too long.

To date I’ve knocked eight books off the physical TBR and six books off the virtual TBR.

My book of the month has to be ‘Weathering’ by Lucy Wood, and I’ve not read a book that I haven’t liked.

‘Linnets and Valerians’ and ‘The Young Pretenders were for the Classic Children’s Literature Event.

I came to the end of Trollope’s Palliser novels; after eight months months in their company I’ll miss them, but I want to try some of Trolloe’s other books and I still want to read ‘The Forsyte Saga’.

‘The Gipsy in the Parlour’ – set in Devon – was my first book for Reading England.

Margery Sharp Day, on the 25th was a joy, and I am still absolutely delighted that so many found and enjoyed a book.

Since then I’ve been dabbling, and all of these have been picked up and partly read:

‘Saraband’ by Eliot Bliss (the jury is out)
‘The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife And The Missing Corpse’ by Piu Marie Eatwell (just as good as it sounds)
‘Troy Chimneys’ by Margaret Kennedy (one of her best)
‘The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (half-way through, and I love it)
‘Lady Anna’ by Anthony Trollope (I was smitten from the first page)

I’ll pick them up again in February, which I want to be a simple, project free month of reading the books that call.

I’ve added a couple of books to a new ‘after the TBR Dare list on my library account.

And I’ve added a few judicious purchases to my personal library:


‘Three Fevers’ by Leo Walmsley
‘Fire Over England’ by A E W Mason
‘Winds of the Day’ by Howard Spring
‘The Houses in Between’ by Howard Spring
‘All The Day Long’ by Howard Spring
‘The Jasmine Isle’ by Joanna Harystiani
‘Harlequin House’ by Margery Sharp
‘A Century of Creepy Stories’ edited by Hugh Walpole

They’re very much ‘library building purchases’; six on a day when I had an appointment in Truro and seized the chance to visit my favourite bookshop, one came from a local charity shop, and ‘Harlequin House’ arrived because I’ve been looking for an affordable copy for a long time and I finally found one.

I’ll have difficulty resisting that one until the dare is over, but I could read ‘All The Day Long’ because I had a tatty old copy and so the lovely, signed, hardback edition is an upgrade.

My old copy has gone to a charity shop, in one of seven bags we dropped off this afternoon.

I must declare one addition to the virtual TBR – ‘After The Storm’ by Jane Lythell – because I loved her first book, and because it was a ridiculously good bargain.

That was January.

A very good month for books and reading.

Now tell me, how was your month?

What do you have planned for next month?

There has been Writing – There has been Shopping – There has been Reading

Time to catch up!

The Writing:

I’m quite sure that you’ll have heard about it already, but I must mention the fabulous new autumn edition of Shiny New Books.

There are far too many wonderful things to mention, but I pick out just a few:

  • Simon has written about one of my favourite books, that has just been reissued, and about one of my favourite authors.
  • You will find me revisiting two of my favourite books, both now available in paperback, in Annabel’s Fiction pages.
  • You’ll also find me writing about The Good Companion by Una L Silberrad. It’s a wonderful book, I’ll be looking out for more of the author’s work, and I found a heroine – from an earlier era – who I’d love to introduce to Lucy Carmichael. Yes – that good!
The Shopping

Our annual day trip to Truro resulted in a very fine haul of books from its two used bookshops and its charity shops.


I loved ‘The Lonely’ when I read a library copy, so I was very pleased to find a copy to keep. I’m not too sure about ‘Ludmilla’ – described as ‘a charming pastoral legend set in old Lichtenstein’ but as it’s by Paul Gallico I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

‘The Use of Riches’ by J I M Stewart (who also wrote under the name Michael Innes) is a story of art and intrigue, and so I had to pick it up.

I read ‘Bright Day’ by J B Priestley years ago, I loved it, and it has a Cornish setting, so that one had to come home to be re-read.

I saw a pile of books by Mazo de la Roche, and her name rang a bell but no more than that. I brought home ‘The Building of Jalna’, which on the first book (chronologically) in a long series. I liked the look of them all, but I thought it would be tempting fate to bring home more.

‘The End of Childhood’ by Henry Handel Richardson is the sequel to ‘The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney’, which Cat loved and I know my library has.

‘The Old Ladies’ by Hugh Walpole was a book I had to rescue from a 50p table.

I know that the library has ‘Sissinghurst’ by Adam Nicholson and ‘Millions Like Us’ by Virginia Nicholson, but I also knew that I wanted copies of my own to keep and read at leisure, at the right time.

I know nothing about Mrs Henry de La Pasture, except that she was E M Delafield’s mother and that the Folio Society saw fit to reissue ‘The Unhappy Family’, and that was enough reason to bring the book home.

The Reading

This hasn’t been a great week for finding the time and the clarity of thought that I need to write, but I have been reading:

  • ‘The Provincial Lady Goes Further’ by E M Delafield – the perfect way to change gear Margaret Kennedy Week.
  • ‘The Adventurous Lady ‘ by J C Snaith  – the report will be mixed.
  • ‘Privileged Children’ by Frances Vernon – I was very impressed by I have to track down her other books now.
  • ‘The Eustace Diamonds’ by Anthony Trollope – I liked it, but not as much as my first two Trollopes

I’ll elaborate, I’ll get back to writing, very soon ….

Acquisitions and Imprints

When you buy used books – if you buy used books – do you shop by imprint?

Earlier today, as I rifled through a ‘3 for £1’ table in a local charity shop, I was very aware that I did.

I brought home one or two books simply on the strength of the name and the logo on the spine.


Working from the bottom up:

The Assassin’s Cloak isn’t for me, it’s for the man of the house, who doesn’t read fiction, who loves volumes of letters and diaries. I once hesitated over a rather overpriced hardback copy in another charity shop, lost it and regretted it, so when I saw this copy I pounced.

I remember seeing titles by The Women’s Press alongside Virago Modern Classics in the Silver Moon Bookshop in the early eighties.  If I’d known then what I know now, if I hadn’t been a poor student, I’d have bought stacks of them. I’d never heard of Early Spring, or of Tove Ditlevsen, but, as the cover told me that the book was the story of the childhood of one of Denmark’s best loved writers, as I had faith in the publisher, I picked the book up.

The Pandora Press has faded into obscurity, and when I saw the name I recognised it but I couldn’t place it. A little research told me that Pandora published the writings of Victorian women on the 1980s; so I’m pleased to add one of its books to my collections, and even more pleased that I have added four short stories by Elizabeth Gaskell:

The Three Eras of Libbie Marsh
Lizzie Leigh
The Well of Pen-Morfa
The Manchester Marriage

There’s what looks like a very good introduction too, but I want to save it for the right moment.

I haven’t read Graham Greene for years and I thought that No Man’s Land – published by The Hesperus Press and containing two shorter works, published in between The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair (which I love)  – might be a good place to start again.

I have a copy of Cindie by Jean Devanny, but it was an Australian Virago Modern Classic and I’ve had a very good run of those, because I’ve had  because it’s not one I see very often, I thought I should bring it home. I’m hoping to draw someone on this year’s Virago Secret Santa who doesn’t have a copy, but, if I draw someone who does, I know enough Virago lovers to be confident of finding this book a good new home.

I love Tauchnitz Editions! I love that a German publisher published a wonderful range of novels in English over the course of a century, and so I always pick up their books when I spot them.

Here are some of their authors:

Daphne Du Maurier
Thomas Hardy
Hugh Walpole
Elizabeth Taylor
Anthony Trollope
Somerset Maugham
Margery Sharp …. my copy of ‘Four Gardens’ is a Tauchnitz Edition ….

I know nothing about Lord Belhaven, I now nothing about The Eagle and The Sun, except that it is set in ancient Rome, and I’m not sure it will be my kind of book, but I had to give it a chance.

I think my £2 was very well spent!

There has been bookshopping ….

…. there often is, but it’s a long time since I’ve found so many interesting titles in the course of just a few days.

* * * * * * *

On Saturday morning I spotted a ‘3 for £1’ sale at a charity shop in town. I’ve not had much luck with those sales lately, but of course I have to look, and this time my luck was in.


Nancy Milford‘s biography of Zelda Fitzgerald has been on my wishlist for ages, and so I pounced as soon as I spotted.

I was very taken with Sarah Moss‘s first novel – Cold Earth – and I’ve been wanting to read her second, and so when I spotted a copy of Night Waking I picked that up too.

And then I needed a third. There was nothing unmissable but I spotted a book by Victoria Holt that I didn’t know – The Silk Vendetta – I liked the look of it and so it became my number three.

* * * * * * *

There is a lovely café-bookshop a couple of hundred yards from my mother’s nursing home, and I hadn’t visited it in the nine months I’ve been visiting her. That was because I had Briar with me, but I haven’t taken her since my mother was ill, and became so much more frail than she had been. I would if she asked, but she hasn’t …. and that meant I could look in the bookshop.

I found two lovely numbered Penguins.


I have loved Daphne Du Maurier‘s writing from a very young age; I read every book the library could offer and, later on, I built a collection of my own, but I never came across a copy of The Du Mauriers before. I knew that it was a history of the family in the 19th century, but I hadn’t realised that it was written as a novel. I was smitten from the first page …..

Tea With Mr Rochester by Frances Towers is already in my Persephone collection, and it is a lovely collection of stories. But it holds ten stories – four less than the original edition. I don’t know why, I don’t know whose decision it was, but I remember finding out and being horribly disappointed that I had left a Penguin copy behind in the Oxfam shop a few years ago.

* * * * * * *

I took a couple of extra days off work after Monday’s bank holiday – one for a jaunt and one to catch up with things around the house – and today was the day for the jaunt!

We try to visit St Ives once a year, to look around the town, to visit the galleries, and to investigate some different bookshops.

I didn’t expect much from the first charity shop we visited. There was a very small selection of books, but I spotted the name of a favourite author


The Landlord’s Daughter and The Room Upstairs both date from the late sixties. The reviews seem to be very mixed, but I love Monica Dickens‘s writing and so, of course, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

The Oxfam Shop has been a happy hunting ground in the past, and it was again today.


The Birds in the Trees by Nina Bawden fills a gap in my Virago Modern Classics collection. I loved her books for children – especially ‘Carrie’s War’ but I still haven’t read any of her adult novels. I really must.

Judasland by Jennifer Dawson also comes dressed in Virago green, but it was published as a new novel in 1991, not as a modern classic. I’ve read one of her books – The Upstairs People –  I love her style and I have a feeling  that this comedy, set in academia, could be rather special.

Summer in Baden-Baden is Leonard Tyspkin‘s homage to Dostoevsky and, because Russian novels are calling to me, because it’s a train book, I decided to pick it up.

And, best of all, I found a book by Francis Brett Young. I love his writing, and I love that Mr and Mrs Pennington is the story of the first year of a marriage in the 1920s.

* * * * * * *

Now I just need to magic up some more shelf space ….

A Little Holiday Book Shopping

A week’s holiday at home always means a trip to visit bookshops in another town, and today it was Truro.

Our first port if call was Pydar Mews Books, which has been a wonderful hunting ground for me over the years.

Here’s what I brought home today.


I already own Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, but I couldn’t resist adding a numbered Penguin to my shelves.

By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens was a random book I picked up because it was a numbered Penguin. It’s a story of small town America and there was a very warm endorsement from J B Priestley on the back cover.

And another numbered Penguin. Clochmerle by Gabriel Chevalier is, it seems, a much loved French comedy, and that was a good enough reason to pick it up.

Amberwell by D E Stevenson was an auto pick up!

The Happy Prisoner by Monica Dickens was a lovely find, as I left a copy behind in another bookshop a couple of years ago and regretWhite Ladiested it. I just love her writing.

I tracked down a particular edition of Jennie by Paul Gallico for a friend a few years ago – she had borrowed a copy, lost it, and wanted to track down another copy of the same edition but didn’t know her way around the internet- and I liked the look of it, so the next copy I saw I picked up. Today!

And another by Paul Gallico: Love Let Me Not Hunger came home because it was a very pretty hardback, and because it was set in a circus and that made me think of ‘The Love of Seven Dolls’ which is a wonderful book.

And finally there’s a copy of White Ladies by Francis Brett Young. I’ve read it, I loved it, and I really wanted a copy to keep. There’s a copy in my local  bookshop, but I couldn’t justify the price of a signed first edition. This slightly worn, slightly later edition I could.

All of those for the very reasonable price of £17.50!

I spent my change from a twenty pound note in the Oxfam shop.


I’ve just begun reading ‘The Ascent of Woman’ by Melanie Phillips, which is a broad overview of the history of the suffrage movement and I had it on mind to track down a couple of books with a narrower focus. I’m still looking for ‘Rebel Girls’ by Jill Liddington, but I found The Pankhursts by Martin Pugh today.

And my fiancé was exceedingly pleased with a signed biography of a fighter pilot and an interesting volume of local history.

Nothing much on the other charity shop, but we did one or two other things, we bought my mother a nice new pair of slippers, and we had a very nice lunch at The Crab and Ale House.

And on the way back to the car I had a quick look in the library, because the literature collection in the county lives in Truro.

I could have picked up any number of books, but common sense prevailed and I just picked up one.


The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald!

Her novel! Short stories! Articles! Letters!

I’m really hoping that nobody else orders this one so that I can hang on to it for a while.

And that was it today, but before I finish I must mention two books I found locally on Monday.


The paperback edition of Gentleman Prefer Blondes was so pretty, it has the sequel – Gentleman Marry Brunettes starting from the other end, and an endorsement from Edith Wharton.

But it was Linda by John Coates that made my heart leap. ‘Patience’ wasn’t one of my favourite Persephone books, but this book is late, the dust jacket describes it as being more serious than his earlier books without being heavy- which might suit me better – and it’s set against a theatrical background.

It really has been a wonderful week for books!

New Old Books

Until I find a new job I’m not buying any new books. Anything current that you spot me reading will come either from the library or the generosity of kind publishers.

I’m luckier than many, living in the family home and with savings to tide me over, but I still want to be careful while the future is so uncertain.

And there is treasure to be found in charity shops and second-hand bookshops for very little money.

Look what I found last week:

I’ll take things from the bottom up, as that’s pretty much the order that I found them.

The name Eudora Welty caught my eye, and I found an intriguing book. One Writer’s Beginnings. An American book that somehow found its way over the Atlantic to Cornwall. A book drawing on three lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1983, about listening about learning to see, about finding a voice. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!

I borrowed London War Notes: 1939 to 1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes from the library, but I wanted a copy of my own. And I found one – ex library but in pretty good condition. It really should be in print and would sit nicely along the author’s short stories from the same period in the Persephone list …

My fiance spotted Concerning Agnes: Thomas Hardy’s ‘Good Little Pupil’ by Desmond Hawkins first. I know nothing about Agnes but I love Hardy and so this book, from a local press, seemed well worth the investment of £1.50.

If I’d been working I would have rushed out to buy the new Vintage Stella Gibbons reissues, and so I snapped up a charity shop copy of Westwood as soon as I spotted it.

And finally, Pamela Frankau was a name I recognised as a Virago author. I have yet to read any of her books but I have read a lot of praise as so when I spotted a title I didn’t recognise in a blue numbered penguin I had to take a look. I Find 4 People seems to be autobiography written as fiction, with the author writing about herself in the third person. I was charmed, and so the book came home.

An exceptionally good week, and an excellent haul for less than £10.


Have you ever had a big clear-out of books?

Have you ever regretted letting go of certain titles and acquired new copies?

I have! I had a big, big clear-out when I left London to come back to Cornwall. Never before had I been so ruthless with my books.

The books that come back, earlier this year, were by Anthony Powell: the twelve novels that make up A Dance to the Music of Time. I had read them and I told myself I’d probably never read them again. Out they went! But then Laura started a journey though the series, and I remembered just how wonderful it was. When the whole series turned up in mint condition on the Oxfam Shop. I couldn’t resist, and now they are living in a box in the attic, ready to be reread.

But that wasn’t the acquisition that inspired me to write.

I cleared out another series of books, and when they had gone I missed them terribly. There were five of them and I have picked them up, one by one, in charity shops and on ReadItSwapIt. The fifth arrived a couple of days ago, and so my quest is complete.

Sybil Marshall’s Swithinford novels evoke life in an East Anglian village quite wonderfully, and I am delighted that, one day, I shall be able to visit again.

But please tell me that I’m not the only person to have done this … cleared out books only to acquire them once more …