I didn’t mean to go book shopping …

… but we happened to be walking past our local second-hand book shop. We hadn’t expected it to be open on a Bank Holiday, but it was. The door was open even though the weather was cold, and so we went it. It would have been rude not to go in!

And there was new stock!

A title by E F Benson that I had never seen before in a lovely edition nearly 100 years old: The Book of Months.

I read the first paragraph and fell in love:

“Thick yellow fog and, in consequence electric light to dress by and breakfast by was the opening day of the year. Never, to anyone who looks at this fact in the right spirit, did a year dawn more characteristically …”

The book came home!

I looked closely at the Penguin shelves. I’ve always loved Penguins, but my interest has been heightened since I met Karyn at A Penguin a Week and perused her lists of the three thousand books published in numbered editions.

There were so many book that I loved on those lists. I noticed many books from my Virago collection. And sprinkling of Persephone authors. And Angela Thirkell!

I suspected that there might be gems among the titles and authors that I didn’t know too.

And so I pulled out a quite a few books, and I think I may have found some gems among them.

Death and The Pleasant Voices by Mary Fitt 

The title attracted me. An interesting synopsis spoke of a young man caught up in strange events at a country house and that appealed. But, strangely, it was the first paragraph of the author biography that hooked me:

“It is, I think, the writer of fiction who is of interest to the public, not the person of whom the writer is a part. Therefore I  do not propose to give details of where i was born, where educated, and so forth. In my character as Author, I was born some years later than Myself, in that part of the world which lies between classical Greece and Elizabethan England.”

That set me to wondering where the reader in me was born. Here in Cornwall I think, some years before Myself.

Where was the reader in you born?

A Well Full of Leaves by Elizabeth Myers

Another lovely title, and the author’s name rang a distant bell. The opening paragraphs, beautifully describing a visit to the park sold another book.

The Ladies’ Road by Pamela Hinkson

Another intriguing title, and the synopsis drew me in:

“Here is a novel firmly planned, a story of England and Ireland during the war, in which beauty is made out of bitterness and agony, in which all the great issues of those tremendous years are seen, as most of us remember them, as they affected the private lives of men and women.”

The Green Lacquer Pavilion by Helen Beauclerk

Another irresistible title. This time I was hooked by the table of contents:

BOOK I
AT TAVERBRIDGE HALL    
I OF WOMEN AND HOUSES IN GENERAL AND TAVERBRIDGE HALL IN PARTICULAR
II WHERIN VIRTUE IS DISCUSSED AND A GOOD DINNER EATEN
III MR CLARE HAS SOME CURIOUS EXPERIENCES AND MEETS WITH AN ADVENTURE
IV WHAT THE TRAVELLERS SAW IN THE GREEN LACQUER PAVILION

My hopes are high.

Barnham Rectory by Doreen Wallace

I could never resist a book with a vicarage or a rectory in the title, and so this one came home too.

… it’s wonderful what you can find when you’re not really looking!