Thursday, 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?