11 July 2013

London Holiday 0 - Books 4


Here we go with the non-fiction!  It hasn't been a conscious thing but just lately the books coming into the house have been of the packed-with-information sort.  I was so excited to find Juliet Gardiner's The Thirties: An Intimate History at a great price last weekend but bowed to reality once I scanned a few pages.  No doubt the devil that sits on my shoulder sometimes will talk me into it but just not at the moment.  Another lame excuse for my purchases is that if I can't be in London then it will simply come to me, in one form or another.

The Love-charm of Bombs by Lara Feigel - I first spied this on Fleur's blog and knew immediately it was the perfect book for me.  Documenting the experiences of a handful of sublime twentieth-century authors during World War II is to combine two areas of great interest for me.  'When the first bombs fell on London in August 1940, the city was transformed overnight into a battlefront.  For most Londoners, the sirens, guns, planes, and bombs heralded grueling nights of sleeplessness, fear, and loss.  But for Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, and some of their contemporaries, this was a bizarrely euphoric time when London became the setting for passionate love affairs and surreal beauty.  As the sky whistled and the ground shook, nerves were tested, loyalties were examined, and infidelities begun'.  They had me at Elizabeth Bowen.

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson - Does anyone else have to think twice about who has written what when it comes to Juliet Gardiner, Juliet Nicolson and Virginia Nicholson?  Well I do!  They have all written fabulous non-fiction but do rattle my memory at times.  Anyway, this book has been around for ages but when it showed up on a clearance table for $2 it was apparent that it was a last kick at the can before disappearing.  My husband picked it up proving it's the thought that counts and not the cost as I was thrilled to have it.  'A new King was on the throne and the aristocracy were at play.  Yet as temperatures soared, cracks appeared under the surface with strikes, class divisions and the seeds of war to come.  Through the eyes of a series of exceptional individuals - among them a debutante, a choirboy, a politician, a trade unionist, a butler and the Queen - Juliet Nicolson illuminates a turning point in history'

The Spirit of London by Paul Cohen-Portheim - My husband and I were in Stratford last Sunday for his fiftieth birthday but I came home with the loot bag.  The Book Vault is such a fantastic shop with its combination of new books and inexpensive remainders.  It was the stunning artwork by Brian Cook that first caught my eye but just like The Love-charm of Bombs it is one of those quintessential books for an anglophile such as myself.  ' A fascinating glimpse at pre-war London, the book was written by an Austrian, who lived in London, 'to convey the atmosphere and spirit of London; it is a book about what London stands for and what it means.'  The author ranges from London street life, its parks, its traditions to the city's night life, restaurants and Londoners themselves.'  Apparently there can never be too many books on the history of London on my bookshelf and I stole peeks at this one for most of the car ride home.

Women in England 1760 - 1914: A Social History by Susie Steinbach - Opening up to the Contents page the sections were broken down in sections titled - Working-Class Women, Middle-Class Women, Elite Women, Sexuality, Religion, Education.  I knew it was coming home with me before turning to the next page to discover Imperialism, Domestic Politics and Suffrage.  'In 1760 few women could read.  By 1914 almost all could, most were educated and a few even attended university.  Votes for women were not achieved until after the First World War but the hard work was done before, and from the 1850s the advent of organized feminism had begun to improve women's lives.  Susie Steinbach examines the way things changed - and the ways they did not - in this history of the lives of women in England.'   For some reason it is always the moments when I am heaving the vacuum around, up and down the stairs, that I am reminded of how things have not changed!

There has been lots going on at our house - summer has a way of doing that - and by the end of the day I am lucky to manage three or four pages before the book falls on my face.  I've chosen a light read to plod through due to all of the distraction but once things calm down I will be digging into The Love-charm of Bombs!  Have you read it?

16 comments:

  1. So many people are recommending The Love-charm of Bombs that, despite the horrendous title, I can see I'm going to have to get hold of it...

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    1. Oh Simon, if only you didn't live so far away to make heavy parcels cost-prohibitive. I have ended up with two copies. Way back when the UK edition was printed I cheekily asked for a review copy but heard nothing back so I ordered a North American copy for myself. Apparently the UK office forwarded my request on to the NA office without saying anything and now I have two!

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  2. I only had a chance to read the first few pages of Love-charm, about five minutes after Fleur mentioned it, before some meanie recalled it at the library. But those few pages were riveting...I'm so glad my own copy is on its way, and hopefully I'll read it before I'm distracted by ALL the other books in your stack. :)

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    1. How rude of those library customers to place holds on your much-anticipated read! It's a great stack of books, isn't it, Audrey. Holing up in a cottage somewhere for the month of August with this lot would be a dream...it's not going to happen though *sigh*.

      Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Love-charm one day!

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  3. I am so pleased you have a copy of Love-Charm, because I thought it was very you when I was reading. I have the Nicholson, and now I have two more books on my wishlist. I wouldn't want to live in London again, but I do miss it.

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    1. Living in London might have me feeling the same way but it's awfully nice to see and do so many things while visiting. So many galleries and museums! I don't blame you for being very happy right where you are, Fleur, it's beautiful!

      Thanks again for posting about Love-charm and making me aware. Every once in awhile a book pops up that makes me really, really excited and this is one of them.

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  4. I get all those writers terribly confused too! I think I too need The Love Charm of Bombs on my TBR. I have read and enjoyed The Perfect Summer - I thought it really good for dipping into, as it was filled with lots of nice little bits and pieces - but the rest are new to me.

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    1. Excellent! Hahaha...comfort in numbers not to mention then I wouldn't be the only one! Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed The Perfect Summer, Vicki. Can you imagine wearing the fashions of the day with all that boning in the heat of the day? No wonder so many scampered to the beach whenever they could!

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  5. Juliet Nicolson's books are great, I do hope you enjoy this one.
    Margaret P

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  6. You know I can't stand Juliet Nicolson (and never know which one she is either!) but I hope you'll enjoy The Perfect Summer and let us all know how it is! I have the Love charm of Bombs on my shelf - also got myself a review copy - but am yet to crack it open thanks to its intimidating size. It will be one for the summer holidays! What an amazing haul Darlene - I have added that Susie Steinback one to my wishlist!

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    1. The Love-charm is one of those books I would rather read while the snow flies and drinking copious cups of tea but the timing is what it is. There are so many distractions whizzing by my patio during the summer and I seem incapable of missing any of them! The Steinbach would be right up your alley, Rachel. Making Juliet Nicholson another agenda item for our next meeting...I'm curious now.

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  7. I have a review copy of The Love Charm of Bombs on my shelf. I'm not particularly enjoying the book I'm reading now, so I may take a break from it and start reading that instead.

    I thought The Perfect Summer was rather wispy in its historical coverage, but it was also interesting and well-written. I hope you enjoy your new books and that you have time to read and enjoy the summer.

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    1. At some point perhaps we can compare notes then! The Love-charm wouldn't be a lot of people's idea of riveting summer reading but it works for us, doesn't it, Kate?!

      My husband and I have got the garden to the point where it looks great without doing all that much. So it's a cool drink and my book on the patio whenever Deacon has something else to gawk at or pester! Hope you're enjoying your summer as well....

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  8. Hi Darlene--How are you? What a lovely pile of books that tempted me to come out of lurkdom--and dangerous, too, as now I think I need to order a few of these (forget trying to find them locally...ha). I do have The Thirties, but am not sure when I will read it--such a massive book, but what a lovely thought--so much history. I think I will be buying The Love Charm of Bombs, too, as I had that one on my list already. Bit now I have also added The Spirit of London and Women in England. Hope your summer is going well!

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    1. Just fine, Danielle, thanks for asking! How you manage to get everything done in a day that you do, I have no idea. I was admiring your needlework projects on the weekend - they're gorgeous! And I can so relate to a fruitless search for excellent English titles but I struck it rich last weekend. Hope you're not suffering too much with all of the heat - stay cool!

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