A Defence Of Libraries

Yesterday the ever-eloquent Zadie Smith released this essay, in case you didn't catch it.


Item: BBC News.

Picture: Daily Telegraph.

Michael Farrell, I salute you.

At the weekend whilst looking at books, I came across a cover that grabbed and held my attention.  It's a Penguin book on the famed Dorothy Parker, one of the great writers and wits of the 20th century.  The cover design is by Michael Farrell. I love it.  Printed in 1977, this 70's child was suckered in by the colours and beautiful design.   I'm sure it will see some Etsy action!


Newbury at Silly o'clock

Good things about my trip to Newbury antiques fair this morning;

Some great antiques, repro and miscellanea.
Eclectic traders with cheeky patter.
Great people watching and listening! Sample,  'He said we should buy it, do you think we should?!'
Plenty of space to move around amongst the wares

Not so good;

Cold this morning, it didn't warm up until lunch.
Getting up at 6am for the 8am start.
Food - it was a bit truckers breakfast, they could do with catering for those with healthier tastes, but hey.

I bought 2 books; Alice In Wonderland and Science In The Home.   The two friends I went with bought some early Emma Bridgewater and vintage clothing. Hope your Monday was as interesting.

Scaling The Heights

This Sunday Wuthering Heights, the only book written by Emily Bronte, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, at 8pm. A shame they didn't broadcast it during the cold and wind of January, the lovely weather feels all wrong for stories of windswept moors and Heathcliff. I'm not moaning about this glorious sunshine though - long may it stay with us.  Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.

To Japan With Love

Every time I watch the news my heart breaks for the Japanese people.  In 1989 I had a boyfriend who went to Japan for a year, each week he sent me letters via airmail (no email, no facebook, imagine!) detailing his cultural shock and awe. When I flew out to visit we toured around that beautiful, exotic country.  I was overwhelmed by the kind hospitality shown to us by his Japanese friends and colleagues.

I have added some books to my bookshop on Etsy, to benefit the Red Cross Tsunami relief fund.  I will be adding some more in the coming weeks.

P.S  Regarding my boyfriend, reader I married him, and as you can see, I still have the letters.


My Life In Books

Inspired by an article in a magazine I read regularly, Red.

The Help - Kathryn Stockett.   The black women who ensured that their employers households ran smoothly and efficiently, including the raising of the children, set in the 1950s and 60s.  I finished it yesterday, but I am still mulling it over, the sign of a good book for me. 

Persuasion by Jane Austen. Much as I love Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Elliott is my favourite Austen heroine. Perhaps due to Anne's greater maturity and her having had to endure situations I myself would have struggled with, I admire her greatly.  Anne doesn't have the sass Elizabeth has, but she has a self contained wisdom that I envy.  It's thought that it was Jane's brother Henry who changed the title from The Elliotts (Jane's title) to Persuasion after her death, what a wonderfully inspired decision. The act of Persuasion is fraught with moral danger, Jane made the point; persuade at your peril.

If The Spirit Moves You by Justine Picardie.   Justine writes truthfully and elegantly about the cruel, early loss of her dear sister Ruth, and her struggle for the year after Ruth's death to come to terms with her loss.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch.  The story of a young girl named Astrid living in the US with her cold-hearted, self centered and eccentric mother, Ingrid.  A cataclysmic event involving Ingrid, means that Astrid is forced to go into a series of care and foster homes.   A big adventurous, exotic and rewarding read.

Love Child by Allegra Huston.  After hearing Allegra speak at a book festival I was compelled to buy her book. A peek behind the high walls of Hollywood.  She writes with a kindness and compassion that is unusual and endearing, about her somewhat unorthodox upbringing as the supposed child of the Legendary film director, John Huston.

Year Of Wonders by Geraldine Brook.  Set in 1666, in the Derbyshire village of Eyam.  One woman's account of a year in her life when the bubonic plague descended on her village in the Derbyshire Dales. Based on a true story.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  So much already written of which I could add so little except to say, I had a marvelous English lit teacher at school who inspired me and enlightened me with her teaching.  Although this book now contains phrases and words we would no longer use, it still stands up as one of the best books of the 20th century, if not the best.

My thoughts are with the people of Japan at this time.  I have travelled within the country and know how stoic and strong the Japanese people are.  They showed me great kindness and hospitality. I will be selling books on my Etsy shop to benefit the Tsunami relief fund this week.

My Big Fat Easter!

Whilst looking at this charming postcard I picked up at a local antique sale, I started to panic.  Each year my children receive Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies in large quantities from their numerous relatives, lucky things.  They are told to squirrel them away because I have no willpower.  This they do, but it is in such quantities it lasts for months.  Now here's the rub, not only do I have no willpower but my egg hunting skills are second to none.  I can sniff out chocolate as well as Jacks giant can smell the blood of an Englishman...

Does anyone have any tips on how to improve my willpower and avoid the chocolate catastrophe that is looming?   My waistline and I will be eternally grateful.


Sunny Days

Had a wonderful walk this morning.   The sun was out, and so were the lambs - enjoying the warmth.

More Than Words

In vain I have struggled. It will not do. This piece must be written, however imperfectly,  literary constipation is awful.  It must be hell to be a writer!

The past few weeks on BBC have been book heaven for me.  It culminates tomorrow night in a million books being given away to commemorate World Book Day.  I loved the series written and presented by Sebastian Faulks - Faulks On Fiction (still on iPlayer until tomorrow in case you missed it).  I have adored listening to Anne Robinson tease interesting quotes from her guests in My Life In Books.  My favourite guest was the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, what a fascinating life she has led.  Another brilliant programme, again on the fabulous BBC, was about the evolution of the book cover.

I have loved immersing myself in this literary love-in.  Books have shaped me, educated me and given me somewhere to escape to in times of need.  I could not imagine life without them.  Last night I heard an interview with Julie Nicholson on Radio 4, who daughter was lost in the 7/7 bombings.  It was the best tribute to the written word I have heard in this past fortnight.  The most touching part of the interview for me was when she said it had emerged during the past few months of this long inquest, that her daughter had been reading a book whilst on that fateful tube journey. The police have found the book and identified it as Jennys by DNA testing.  This gave her mother comfort and hope - that she had not looked into the bombers eyes, had not noticed her killer,  but instead had been immersed in her book.   Julie has now written a book herself, a tribute to her musically gifted daughter called A Song For Jenny.  What a very fitting tribute to Jenny, to the strength and courage of Julie,  and to books themselves.