22 December 2015

We Three Books...

Visiting bookshops during the Christmas season is a little bit of heaven.  Over the past couple of weeks I've been in chain shops, independent shops, and clicked on-line.  So what have I treated myself to?

A Notable Woman: The romantic journals of Jean Lucey Pratt edited by Simon Garfield

  'In April 1925, Jean Lucey Pratt began writing a journal.  She continued to write until just a few days before her death in 1986, producing well over a million words in 45 exercise books during the course of her lifetime.  For sixty years, no one had an inkling of her diaries' existence, and they have remained unpublished until now.'

Jean Lucey Pratt contributed to the Mass Observation project but under the pseudonym 'Maggie Joy Blunt'.  Owning a copy of Our Hidden Lives (also edited by Simon Garfield) I looked for her entries and immediately fell in love with her voice and wanted to know more.

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
  'From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book explores the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at more than three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents.  (Sadly, we've yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).'

...and my favourite bit...'This book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.'

Jen Campbell wrote Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops and as someone who works in a public library...yes, customers say weird things there too.  This book is a sheer delight and has made a great gift for library friends who can relate.

I'm so looking forward to reading this book.  Some of my favourite bookshops in London are covered and Toronto also gets a mention as having the smallest bookshop in the world.  There are photos as well;  I loved the picture of a shop in Portugal, that looks similar to a VW van that has been retro-fitted to serve as a very quaint shop.

Stories From the Kitchen - Everyman's Pocket Classics

    '...is a one-of-a-kind anthology of classic tales showcasing the culinary arts from across the centuries and around the world.
  Here is a mouthwatering smorgasbord of stories with food in the starring role, by a range of masers of fiction - from Dickens to Chekhov to Isaac Bashevis Singer, from Shirley Jackson to Jim Crace and Amy Tan.'

This would make a perfect gift for your favourite foodie.  I've read the excerpt from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and will just have to succumb to reading the whole book.  Does Minta ever find her grandmother's brooch on the beach?  Saki's Tea was as humourous as I thought it would be, and Emile Zola's The Cheese Symphony from The Belly of Paris is so rich in detail.  The writing is sublime and something that very likely could have passed me by if not for this glimpse at authors I've never read before.  I need more Zola!

Special mention goes to a beautiful new calendar for next year A La Belle Jardiniere.  

Merry Christmas to all of you who have stopped by!


  1. Darlene, this is revolutionary! Our top Anglophile is going French!
    Kitchen Stories sounds very me, I must look out for it. I am still waiting for Jean Lucey at the library.

  2. Darn! Jean Lucey hasn't been published here in the US yet - I might have to do a Book Depository order for that. Your other purchases look marvelous as well - it's so hard not to buy gifts for yourself while out looking for others. One for them, one for me.... Merry Christmas to you, Darlene! I love your blog - it's one of my favorites.

  3. Merry Christmas, Darlene. I have Jean reserved at work & the kitchen stories look very tempting. I hope you have lots of reading time over Christmas & in the New Year.

  4. Merry Christmas and thank you for your excellent blog entries. This last one is very tasty indeed...

  5. I'm having trouble finding A Notable Woman out here - even my local store which is usually so good at stocking imported titles doesn't have it yet. Maybe in time for my birthday in February. Enjoy all your books and best wishes for a wonderful Christmas!

  6. I'm tempted by A Notable Woman, just the size of it is a bit daunting. Look forward to your review and Happy New Year!