10 March 2016

New Books and a New Bookshop in Oakville

These three books caught my eye a few weeks ago while on a bit of a bookshop tour.  Supporting independent shops is important for many reasons but for me, spending time browsing cover art, discovering books I didn't know existed, and luxuriating in the tactile nature of an item that brings such joy, is a necessary part of life.  

Our first stop was Westdale Village, a charming neighbourhood in Hamilton located near McMaster University.

One of the first things that struck me as I stepped inside is that the space is so fresh, clean, and tidy.  Perhaps it's just the contrast between so many of the second-hand shops I frequent that are dusty enough to make your throat scratchy but both are thrilling in equal measure.  So, what did I buy...

The Windsor Faction by D. J. Taylor - 'Autumn 1939.  In an alternative world, where Edward VIII still sits on the throne, storm clouds gather over Europe, German troops amass and a 'King's Party' of fascist peace campaigners is stealthily undermining the war effort.

For Cynthia Kirkpatrick, the war brings a new-found freedom - lunchtime drinks at the Ritz, rented attic rooms, late-night rackety parties and intriguing new acquaintances.

But two new friends loom larger than others, her glamorous colleague Anthea and Tyler, an enigmatic American working at the Embassy.  Initially Cynthia is dazzled by them both but soon discovers they have secrets which could prove dangerous, both to her and the country at large.'

The alternative world theme isn't one that I would normally be drawn toward but so many of my favourite keywords appeared in the synopsis that it gave me shivers.  Truly.

Carlyle's House and Other Sketches by Virginia Woolf (Foreword by Doris Lessing) - Weeks after finishing Mrs Dalloway its sublime prose has stayed with me.  The very title of this slim volume of 'sketches' caught my eye by virtue of the title; I've been to Carlyle's house in Chelsea.  Not only that - I also went by bus and was told not to ride past the Embankment as that would have been too far.  Virginia's sketch begins 'The bus took me too far.  I found myself beyond the Embankment...'.  At that very minute the book became a must-have.  And thanks to a helpful bus driver I was able to alight at just the right spot.  Other sketches feature Cambridge, Hampstead Heath and a scathing observation of someone called Miss Reeves.

Carrying on to Oakville, my husband and I visited Archetype Books for the first time.  A new shop that's very close in feel to a micro-Hatchards with its curated collection...and the owner, Natalie Jenner, is fond of green spine Viragoes.  We're destined to have many conversations in the future; it's inevitable.

Having very much enjoyed the Eric Ravilious exhibit in Dulwich last May it was wonderful to find a book featuring work by his friend and contemporary, Edward Bawden.

Edward Bawden's London - Peyton Skipwith & Brian Webb - 'With over 200 illustrations, the book draws together the best of Bawden's prints, posters, paintings, murals and advertising illustration, as well as previously unpublished material from Bawden's personal scrapbooks.  It includes works from his student days at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s, to the Morley College murals in partnership with Eric Ravilious and Charles Mahoney, to the remarkable 45-foot concertina mural created for the Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the 1951 Festival of Britain.  Edward Bawden's prolific career also spanned advertising work for London Transport, Fortnum & Mason, Twinings and Shell, as well as a series of exquisite linocuts and lithographs.

This is a beautiful book full of the soft muted tones and line drawings that remind me of picture books from my childhood merged with a love affair with London.  A true gem.

Reading about an alternative world and Nazis is something to hold off on while I am missing Deacon so very much, but the other two books are just the balm I need.  And special thanks to everyone who has passed along such kind words and hugs...it means so much to me.


  1. Lovely books and lovely bookstores. I'm going to put all three on my list. Have you read The Carlyles at Home (a Persephone?) It made me long to visit their house!

  2. One of my favourite Persephone titles, Audrey! I visited the house in 2012 and bought the book to read once back at home. Being able to picture their movement through the rooms made the book come to life. Do try to visit Cheyne Row if you get the chance!