11 September 2016

Recent Arrivals

Something old and something new.  Kip is spark out after a full morning at an antique market so I'll share a few titles while it's quiet.

The Long View by Elizabeth Jane Howard - My husband and I went to the cinema recently to see Anthropoid about a mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking member of Germany's Nazi Party.  Next to the parking area is A Different Drummer, a charming bookshop in a quaint older home in Burlington's downtown core.  With twenty minutes to spare we went in to choose two books to support this independent shop.  I honed in pretty quickly on my choice.  My friend, Rachel (Book Snob) is confident this author will appeal and there's really no doubt that she's right.

'In 1950s London, Antonia Fleming faces the prospect of a life lived alone.  Her children are now adults; her husband Conrad, a domineering and emotionally complex man, is a stranger.  As Antonia looks towards her future, the novel steadily moves backwards in time, tracing Antonia's relationship with Conrad to its beginning in the 1920s, through years of mistake and motherhood, dreams and war.'

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton - Rosy asked if I would like to receive a review copy of her latest book.  It's a collection of short stories and absolutely stunning so far.  But more on that later in the week...

After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry - After reading The Essex Serpent I placed an order for this title, Sarah's first book.  It's been earmarked as an October read...

'One hot summer's day, John Cole decides to leave his life behind.
He shuts up the bookshop no one ever comes to and drives out of London.  When his car breaks down on an isolated road, he goes looking for help and stumbles into the grounds of a grand but dilapidated house.
Its residents welcome him with open arms - but there's more to this strange community than meets the eye.  They all know John by name, they've prepared a room for him and claim to have been waiting for him all along.
Who are these people?  And what do they intend for John?'

Victorian Bloomsbury by Rosemary Ashton - This book was published in 2012 and on display at Hatchards Piccadilly while I was on holiday in London.  It was too large, not to mention expensive when factoring in exchange, to buy then and there but it's a book I've yearned for ever since.  The puppy meant I didn't get to Bloomsbury this summer so historic Bloomsbury came to me (any excuse, really).

'Drawing on a wealth of untapped archival resources, Rosemary Ashton brings to life the education, medical and social reformists who lived and worked in Victorian Bloomsbury and who led crusades for education, emancipation and health for all.
Ashton explores the secular impetus behind these reforms and the humanitarian and egalitarian character of nineteenth-century Bloomsbury.  Thackeray and Dickens jostle with less famous individuals like Henry Brougham and Mary Ward.  Embracing the high lift of the squares, the nonconformity of churches, the parades of shops, schools, hospitals and poor homes. this is a major contribution to the history of nineteenth-century London.'

Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf - After being thoroughly enamoured with Carlyle's House and Other Sketches there was nothing to think about when I found another book of essays at a second-hand shop.  With delightful contributions such as...22 Hyde Park Gate, Old Bloomsbury, and Am I a Snob? this is a collection for a quiet day without time constraints and at least two pots of tea.

Coronation St. at War by Daran Little - Watching Coronation Street after dinner from Monday to Friday is a must at our house.  When my husband and I were first married he could barely decipher what the actors were saying but he's every bit a fan now.  Digging through a box of books at a garage sale near in our neighbourhood I was so surprised to find a book that blends two interests of mine.  This book is something of a guilty pleasure but I couldn't resist.

'It is September 1939 and as war is declared the sixteen-year-old Elsie Tanner walks into Coronation Street.  Newly married, pregnant, optimistic about the future in her more affluent surroundings, she has little idea of the difficult times that lie ahead.'

The Tenth Man by Graham Greene - The ReUse Centre was a fascinating (but filthy) warehouse where treasures were usually waiting under a thick layer of dust, but sadly, it closed this month.  Their clearing out sale was five dollars for a crate of books, and you were even allowed to keep the crate.  I bought a stack of books for my elderly neighbour who doesn't venture very far these days, gave a copy of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith to a friend at work, and chose a few for myself.  

'Graham Greene's The Tenth Man is one of his most startling and unexpected major novels.  Set in wartime occupied France, it is about a man who buys his life in a moment of fear.  It begins in the depths of a Gestapo prison, where thirty men have been taken hostage by the Germans.  Three of them must die, but it makes no difference to the Germans which three - the thirty must choose among themselves by ballot.'

Markham Thorpe by Giles Waterfield -  Finding out the author was Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery for sixteen years made my decision to bring this book home an easy one.  And really, anything remotely clever and having to do with a green baize door is bound to be entertaining.

'When Ellen Braithwaite , a young housemaid, enters service at the declining Markham Thorpe, she soon realises that the relationship between masters and servants is not quite as it should be - and that it is her cousin, the housekeeper Mrs Rundell, who is responsible.
A formidable woman with grand designs, Mrs Rundell is taking control of far more than just the running of the house.  Her masters appear powerless to stop her, her enemies are increasing and, most confusingly, she has plans for her young cousin too.
But can there really be any harm in trying to beat the disadvantages of birth and better yourself?  As Ellen and the inhabitants of Markham Thorpe will discover, that all depends on just how far you are willing to go.'

The Best of James Herriot - This oversize edition is chock full of stories, photos and sketches of James's life as a country vet.  Perfect for dipping in and out of this book will be pulled from its place on the shelf on wintery days when I need taking out of myself. The chapter called Memories of a Wartime Vet will be my first stop.

Diana Mosley by Jan Dalley - I own the letters and other writings of first-hand accounts by Diana's sisters but biographies usually fill in a few blanks here and there.  This book was published in 1999 so while the jacket notes that Diana is living in France, she died in 2003.

'Jan Dalley's careful and dedicated research - which included many interviews and conversations with the subject herself, now nearly ninety and living in France - enables her to tell Diana Mosley's story in fascinating, and sometimes grim, detail.  Growing enthusiasm for the Nazis spurred frequent visits to Germany and meetings with Hitler and other leaders (the Mosleys were actually married in Goebbels's house in 1936); there were struggles to raise money for Mosley's organization and, finally, after war was declared, years of internment in Holloway prison.  Yet at the same times there were friendships with people like Winston Churchill (whose affectionate nickname for her was 'Dinamite') and, after the war, a comfortable, if controversial, return to respectability.'

Finished in good time...Kip is awake and out for a walk.  Off to get these books back on the shelf before the quick pat, pat, pat of puppy paws comes marching down the hall!


  1. What riches! I loved Sandlands & James Herriot is an old favourite. Did you realise it's his centenary this year? I saw an article about him in a magazine the other day.

    1. I love the gentle way Herriot presented life on the farm and how, so often, a dog that was minutes away from death would rally. I didn't know this is his centenary, Lyn, so thank you...a well-timed purchase then!

  2. What a fabulous mix of genres. Enjoy them all.

    1. So many lovely books and not much time with a new puppy in the house, but we'll get there. Always lovely to hear from you, Mystica!

  3. What a pile! And so envy you having a bookshop next to the cinema. (Only a charity shop next to my local and not a very good one.) I'm now gazing at the row of EJHs on my shelf and thinking it's time for a re-read.

    1. And it's such a lovely shop, Mary. There's also a second-hand shop across the street. I did gaze longingly but it would have been pressing my luck. The cinema is what we call the 'cheapie theatre' because there's no introduction or trailers so your butt has to be in a seat right on time!

  4. A fantastic pile of books! I think quite a lot of us are currently reading Elizabeth Jane Howard - I'm almost finished with the first Cazalet novel. I was convinced by Rachel and by Hilary Mantel. She writes very passionately about EJH here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/30/hilary-mantel-elizabeth-jane-howard-novelist
    I also have The Essex Serpent on the vast list of books I want to read this coming fall/winter.
    Love seeing your Kip photos, too!

    1. Thanks for the link, Anbolyn! A double pleasure because there's something so riveting about Hilary Mantel.
      A bookish fantasy of mine is to find the whole Cazalet series, in perfect condition, at a second-hand shop for a steal. I seem to find them in dribs and drabs and I want all the covers to match...it's an OCD bugaboo of mine *sigh*.

  5. I also bought The Long View this summer -- also in London, at Waterstone's near Trafalgar Square. I read the entire Cazalet series the last few years and loved all of them so I'm looking forward to more EJH.

    1. Great minds think alike, Karen! I was in that Waterstones during my last trip...a perfect ending to a nice stroll along the Strand.
      And so glad to hear another enthusiastic recommendation for the Cazalet series. I don't need that much convincing though, it's definitely right up my street.

  6. What is it, I wonder, about EJH that makes her so readable? Never having heard of her before this year, when the Cazalet Chronicles were read on Radio 4, I now cannot stop buying her books.