22 July 2017

London: The Books

The days before luggage with wheels must have been a nightmare for the book-mad anglophile visiting London.  Still, thoughts of wheeling my luggage through Russell Square on my way to the tube station forced a lid on my enthusiasm.  It didn't stop me from making a bee line into every bookshop along the way though because, as we booklovers know...it's a compulsion.  The second-hand shops on Charing Cross Road, the creaking steps of Hatchards, the freshness of Foyles, and the vast selection at Waterstones is just as I left them two years ago, but it was so nice to be back.

Back with me from London is....

The Fox Book by Jane Russ - A perfect combination of beautiful photos, illustrations, and poems combined with research about the beautiful fox.  A section focusing on the fox in art and literature looks particularly good and sealed the deal for me.  Ever since reading Lady into Fox by David Garnett last year I've been gripped by a fascination for this creature.

The Sea Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard - Bought at the Oxfam shop in Highgate Village and one of the new editions reissued by Picador.  A like-new book for a mere £3.  An exploration of four characters in the setting of three countries...sounds epic and perfect for reading on the patio.

The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard - It really can't put it off any longer, I'm jumping into the world of the Cazalet family.  There has been many incredulous looks and comments from people when they find out I haven't read this series yet....that does it, I'm in!

A Dangerous Innocence by Artemis Cooper - There's a theme here, isn't there.  It's a bit like discovering the writings of Elizabeth Taylor - you can't stop once you've started.  Elizabeth Jane Howard keeps coming up in articles having to do with twentieth century fiction and authors.  Her name even came up at the book talk I attended at Waterstones in connection with an affair, of which I suspect there was a few....this is going to be a book to keep me up at night.

The Greedy Queen:  Eating with Victoria by Annie Gray - I've been looking forward to this book since hearing Gray discuss it on a podcast last winter.  You can almost feel gluttonous and full just imagining the daily requirements of such a robust monarch.  Also, the social aspects of food during the Victorian era are fascinating.  I suspect there will be loads of information about puddings, but I'm not looking forward to anything having to do with aspic...blech.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik - While gathered around a table at the London Review Bookshop, I asked Rachel (Book Snob) what she was reading.  She mentioned this title with enthusiasm so I whipped out a pen and made note of it right away.  When Mary, Simon, Rachel and I made our way to the Oxfam shop nearby, a proof copy was on the shelves.  Technically, these are not for resale but when it comes to a donation for Oxfam surely that must be alright.  It's an excellent read so far!

Kew Gardens by Virginia Woolf - Couples strolling through the garden during a hot afternoon in July as described by one of the best.  A well-timed gift as I had been to Monk's House only the day before I received this beautiful edition.  Thank you, Mary!

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - There's a passage from this story in my copy of Everyman's Stories from the Kitchen that made me want to read more.  Knowing I would be visiting Monk's House, I put off buying or borrowing a copy so it could be a souvenir of my visit.

Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay - 'Bitingly funny, elegantly written comedy of manners....'.  I had already bought a book by Macaulay from the Oxfam bookshop in Bloomsbury but Simon (Stuck In A Book) said that this was his favourite by the author, and now I can see why.  So this is a gift from Simon....thank you!

Messalina of the Suburbs by E. M. Delafield - Rachel (Book Snob) presented me with this book, but the title isn't one I was familiar with.  I've since learned it's based on a real-life case in which a woman was hanged in 1923 for being an accomplice to her husband's murder.  Most definitely not at all like the Provincial Lady series, but I'm very intrigued!  Thank you, Rachel!

The Other Day by Dorothy Whipple - Another generous offering from Rachel, who knows that an autobiography by Dorothy Whipple must be housed with just the right person, and that person would be me.  This is not an easy book to come by so I'm very grateful for the opportunity to own a copy without searching the earth.

Keeping up Appearances by Rose Macaulay - Someone must have stopped into the Oxfam shop in Bloomsbury with their collection by this author.  There were at least five editions sitting together on the top of a shelf, just waiting to be spotted.  I was drawn to this title because I adore the antics of Hyacinth Bucket but then I read a line that described a character buying cami-knickers on Oxford Street.  That's all I needed to know....sold!


  1. Well done! that is quite a haul to carry on your own, Darlene - but it should keep you going until next time.

    1. Well, I must confess to being home less than a week before ordering the remaining four books in the Cazalet Chronicles. That's my spare time sorted this autumn...

  2. That's a great book haul! I haven't read Keeping up Appearances, but I really enjoyed The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macauley. Dorothy Whipple is on my list of authors to read. Elizabeth Jane Howard is one of my favorite authors, although I struggled a bit with The Sea Change.

    1. Have you read Miss Anstruther's Letters by Macaulay? It's an achingly personal depiction of being bombed during the Blitz....and a short story so you can read it before bed. It's not to be missed if you're a fan of her work. As for The Sea Change - oh dear...perhaps that explains why someone was so willing to donate a nearly new book to the charity shop. We shall see...

  3. Just found your blog through Simon's page. Lovely blog. What a great haul of gentle reads you have found. I love foxex too but of course living in Tasmania they are not allowed. Too much small wildlife. We remain a foxless state, thank goodness.

    1. Thank you, Travellin' Penguin! Lovely of you to stop by.

  4. Wow, what a great haul! I was in London in June and I think I visited every one of those stores except Oxfam, I managed to keep my purchases down to only 9 though I kept finding the British Crime Classics everywhere -- then realized they were 3 for 2 at the British Library gift shop.

    I also loved the Cazalet series, I don't know any blogger who hasn't loved it so far (also a great BBC adaptation if you can get hold of a copy). And nice gift from Rachel -- I did find a copy of The Other Day a few months ago and it was quite a splurge but I couldn't resist.

  5. An excellent deal at the British Library...and it was nice having them all before you instead of spread out by author in bookshops.
    I'm trying to hold off on the Cazalets until autumn....but it's not easy! And you just have to bite when you find a book that's hard to find. I still laugh remembering Rachel finding her first copy of The Other Day. It was on Charing Cross Rd and a very good price...she paid and left before someone could claw it back! If you haven't read it yet, I'm up for a read-along.....