Skip to main content

It's that time of year again...

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library Book Sale! - this year attended by me and my friend Laura (who visited this blog earlier as Bellatrix Lestrange). We woke early and arrived at the Magnusson Park hangar at the ungodly hour of eight on a Saturday morning, but kept each other occupied with strategic planning and other stories.



To my utter surprise, I remained within my budget (I can say no after all!) and financed by a birthday gift from my brothers, I found many treats:

The Brontes Went to Woolworths - Rachel Ferguson (This title always makes me think "The Brontosaurus went to Woolworths." I have no idea why. I never think of Jane Eyre as being written by Charlotte Brontosaurus. Complete mystery. At any rate, this is being reprinted by Bloomsbury and available in the US next March.)

Monday or Tuesday - Virginia Woolf (Lovely slim volume published by Hesperus - though sadly underlined in some places...)

Days of Abandonment - Elsa Ferrente (Published by Europa. I have been thinking about Italy a lot recently, and Ferrente is an Italian author I've been meaning to try.)

Four books from E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia series

Experiment in Criticism - C.S. Lewis (which I just finished reading and will talk more about very soon as this was a work of sincere and concise genius.)

Confessions of an English Opium Eater - Thomas De Quincey (Reading this at work at the present, and so far De Quincey is a fat head.)

Women Against Men - Storm Jameson (Virago)

Jane and Prudence - Barbara Pym (I love Barbara)

Sisters: the saga of the Mitford family - Mary S. Lovell (The Mitfords being a fascinating aristocratic British family famous for their six daughters who turned out to be writers, duchesses, and Nazis. This is a relatively new fascination of mine.)

A Far Cry from Kensington - Muriel Spark (I don't know what this one is about, but have much respect for Ms. Spark's fine pen.)

Eustace and Hilda - L.P. Hartley (NYRB - enough said. Bought it for the cover.)

Sorrows of Young Werther - Goethe (The book that sparked the Romantic novel!...relatively)

Winter Sonata - Dorothy Edwards (Virago Press)

Month in the Country - J.L. Carr (which I've heard is good)

And my favorite: Silk by Linda Chaikin, which was the novel most beloved by my twelve to fourteen year old self, featuring a beautiful (but fragile) British heiress, a sea-roving rogue, Indian orphans/maharajahs, exotic plantations, and palace intrigue. Note the awesome front cover:



Since it's out of print, I was thrilled to find it for $1! Kristin and I have firm plans to read this one aloud...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Private Life of the Diary

I’ve kept a diary since I was twelve. While I composed nearly illegible autobiographical scratchings in my first years of primary school at my teachers’ request, it wasn’t until I was on the brink of becoming a teenager that I felt I needed a more permanent arrangement. I suspect it had to do with reading The Diary of Anne Frank. My diary’s function has changed over the years – it once had a name (having discovered that Zoe was the Greek word for life, I thought my choice extremely clever), and I used to like my diaries in a variety of shapes and sizes, spangled with glitter, ruled with wide lines, shackled with locks and keys. For at least eight years my diary was the space in which to vent my feelings, and offered some form of therapeutic comfort. This meant it was largely about boys and is, as a result, very tedious to reread. But while the function of my journal has changed, each volume has been a solution to the manic desire to scribble. As I discovered reading Anne Frank, each e…

The Short Story Season I

The New Yorker Fiction podcast, which I’ve now gobbled up in its entirety, has recently been a lifeline while I’ve been travelling from house to house, city to city. It’s been responsible for kick-starting my renewed interest in the short story – more to come – and for introducing me to writers I’ve long known by name but never read: like Elizabeth Taylor.

Paul Theroux read Taylor’s ‘The Letter Writers’ this past January for the podcast and the story remains one of her best, alongside (and forgive the list) stories such as ‘Taking Mother Out’, ‘Swan-Moving’, ‘A Sad Garden’, ‘The Ambush’, ‘The True Primitive’, ‘The Little Girl’, ‘Hare Park’, ‘The Prerogative of Love’, and ‘The Thames Spread Out’. Travelling with the hefty paperback on planes, trains, and automobiles, I feel I’ve dragged round my little plot of England to keep me company.

(A quick note on editions: an NYRB edition of her stories has just been published but it is a selection, rather than Virago’s Complete Stories. Forgo t…

Blast-beruffled plumes

I’ve returned to Minnesota to find it transformed into a Brueghel painting.



Our hunters are gone north or even south, wherever there are more deer. This has been a bad year for deer, threatened by the cold of last year’s polar vortex and the high population of coyotes, which now carry a bounty on their heads.

So, while it’s still autumn in England (I’ve been assured), winter has come. The nights are long, the wreaths are out. I’ve been reading restlessly – Robert Walser and GB Shaw. But some nights, Thomas Hardy feels just right for November melancholia. Here’s ‘A Darkling Thrush’:

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
Th…