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Goodbye 2006, Hello 2007...

I didn't quite manage a hundred. Never mind. In an ideal world I would've posted reviews of all of these. Alas, like everyone else I do not live in an ideal world.

I hope to post reviews this year. But as I'm about to start my MA studies with this course (and rapidly heading towards bankruptcy - look at that bloody course fee!!!) I may not get round to it and you are doomed to another year of huge photographs of book stacks.


December's Book Finds

Here they are. And look at what's perched on the top!!! A Persephone book!!! It cost me £1.95. I saw it on the shelf and grabbed it. I didn't know I could move so fast... I'm soooo pleased with all of these books. I ought to apologise for the vastness of this image. But I'm not going to. I love these books so much they DESERVE to have their portrait taken.

Despite the vastness of this stack I've still managed to leave one book in the kitchen - Beryl Bainbridge's The Birthday Boys.


My Latest Book Finds

From October:
St Giles Bookshop -
Jill Philip Larkin, 95 p (a rather elderly Faber paperback)
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s, £1.00 (brand newish Penguin Classic)

Oxfam -

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush Eric Newby, £1.49 (purchased because I was rather desperate for an amusing read).


And from November:

British Heart Foundation -

The Eric Newby theme continued when I found Something Wholesale - My Life and Times in the Rag Trade for £1.50.


And from yesterday:

St Giles Bookshop -

Salem Chapel Mrs Oliphant, £1 (it is a bit battered but an olde style Virago with an introduction by Penelope Fitzgerald so could not be left on the shelf)

Ladies of the Grand Tour Brian Dolan, £2.50 (in which various 18th century lady aristocrats and bluestockings tour the continent and scribble letters and diary entries).


Also purchased yesterday from St Giles was my top find for several weeks:

My Dearest Minnie, Letters between Charles II and his sister, the Duchesse d’Orléans edited by Ruth Norrington, £2.50. I was delighted to enter it into my Librarything catalogue and discover that I am the only owner (something that always makes my heart emit a little “ping!” of satisfaction).




 (Portrait of Henrietta, the Duchesse d’Orléans AKA Charles II’s little sister, by Samuel Cooper).



Wilfred Owen on Radio 3

A few weeks ago I dreamt I was teaching a group of sixth form boys about the poetry of the First World War. I was astonishingly erudite, in the dream at least. Sadly I would be unable to match such erudition in my waking life. However, the forthcoming Wilfred Owen Season on Radio 3 looks like it will improve my knowledge considerably.

Some Changes at Persephone Books

A treat awaiting me on the doormat when I got home, rain-sodden and windswept, yesterday evening was the Winter edition of The Persephone Quarterly. 

But am I alone, I wonder, in feeling a certain amount of disquiet on reading of the changes afoot? Some (how many isn't disclosed) of the books are to be relaunched as Persephone Classics without the distinctive Persephone grey wrappers and including quotes from reviews and related blurbs on the covers. I can understand the temptation to reach a wider market, but I think there is a danger of Persephone Books losing its unique identity, the very things that make it so attractive. And boo hoo instead of publishing eight new books a year, now only four new books will be published - presumably to finance the launch of Persephone Classics. 

On a more positive note for once I got the bookmark I wanted - the one for Katherine Mansfield's Journal.

A Few More Book Finds...

I bought two books from the ‘discarded’ section in my local library: a nearly new Virago by Margaret Kennedy, The Constant Nymph (which I doubt I’ll ever read but I’ve gone a bit mad for Viragos. Sadly this one does not have ye olde style Virago cover); and a hardback book, Faithful Handmaid - Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III by Hester Davenport. It’s a book I’d already had out a couple of years ago and hung onto for several months via renewals so it feels familiar. Grand total £1.30. I should add that I do have qualms about libraries selling off their stock in this manner but at the same time if I spot something I want my qualms evaporate in a quite disgraceful fashion.


In my favourite charity bookshop I found Graham Greene’s Lord Rochester’s Monkey!!! (I have put the exclamation marks there because I was so surprised to see it) for £1.50, and Peter Jones’s Learn Latin for £1.50. I have Peter Jones’s Learn Ancient Greek and I’ve never got any further than failing to learn the alphabet so I don’t hold out much hope for my learning Latin, but you never know when it might come in useful so I didn’t like to leave it there.


I was delighted to find Barbara Pym’s Quartet in Autumn for 80 p in the I’m not quite sure which charity shop up the road. It looks unread and is a very recent edition so I was very happy. I’ve become curious about Barbara Pym lately and am eager to read her. I think if I like Elizabeth Taylor, then I must like Barbara Pym. I have a vague recollection of the redoubtable Patricia Routledge portraying BP in a documentary on her many years ago - or was it so very many years ago?


In The Works (thankfully they have not started playing Christmas carols yet but it can only be a matter of days…) I found (ta ra!): Augusta Leigh, Byron’s Half-Sister – A Biography by Michael and Melissa Bakewell for £2.99 (reduced from £14.00). It’s a Pimlico paperback and I rather like Pimlico books, they are usually quite handsome and this one certainly is.


In Lichfield I annoyed myself by leaving a copy of Isabel Colegate’s The Shooting Party in Oxfam. Why did I do that? Why oh why? etc. It was a bit battered but only 99 p and quite near the top of my Want List. I’ve since discovered it’s out of print so I should’ve snapped it up. Will life ever cease to be a learning process? I found Penelope Fitzgerald’s Offshore in the Acorns charity shop for £1.25. It looks unread and is one of the few PF books I didn’t yet have so I am pleased. But if I add the £3.50 it cost me in train fare to the £1.25, the book cost rather more than £1.25. Never mind.


This Week's Book Finds

I've read the Orwell and Huxley but didn't own copies and at 30 p each I thought it was about time I did. 

The Rebecca West intrigued me. It clocks in at 1,181 pages and (unsurprisingly perhaps given the length) appears unread. I'd never heard of it before and in my arrogance thought that must mean it's rare. However, when logging it into my Librarything I discovered I am the 100th owner - so not so rare then...

The financial details...
Gardam (St Giles) - £1.50
Huxley and Orwell (The Settlement Shop) - 60 p
West (Oxfam) - £1.99



Overheard in Great Barr

I've recently become a fan of : http://www.overheardinnewyork.com

It can also be found here overheardnyc

Sadly, the best I can do is something I overheard on a bus many years ago...

First Elderly Lady: 'I adore acid!'
Second Elderly Lady: 'Oooo yes you can't beat it.'

It took me a while to cotton on to the fact they were in fact discussing the innocent joys to be had from this revolting sweetie.

Book Bargain Backlog

Here are nearly all the books I bought over the past two months...

Pile One:

Pile Two:

The Persephone Book just above Marjory Fleming is Marghanita Laski's The Victorian Chaise-Lounge (the one book pictured here that I paid full price for).

Nearly all the books because I forgot I'd left one in the kitchen - Hermione Lee's biography of Virginia Woolf.


This Weekend's Book Haul

Here is my book haul from Saturday:

It cost £7 something.

Alas, my photographic skills are not up to the standards of



Matilda Berry
Matilda Berry

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"I was always alert for mysterious signals, happenings I could not comprehend, veils drawn: all these filled me with a violent curiosity, as if the whole of life was a detective story" ~ Julia Strachey

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January 2007


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