A weekend away in Paradise…

I took my cold off to a beautiful cottage, aptly called Paradise, in Herefordshire – and lost my voice in the process – and I just have to share (a) how lovely the house was, and (b) the books I bought on a trip to Hay-on-Wye.  You can see the proper pictures of the house on its webpage (I want to go into full PR mode for them; it’s so incredibly beautiful) but here are some I took.  The first two are my bedroom.  I didn’t manage to get very good (or friend-free) photos of the living room, dining room, or kitchen – but I had included one of the porch, which is in itself more beautiful than anywhere I will ever live.

And then we spent a day in Hay on Wye.  Most of the group of friends weren’t all that bothered about buying books, so I strode off saying (or, voice gone, croaking) “I hunt alone” – and saw them later.  I came away with 11 books in the end, and here they are…

Too Many Ghosts by Paul Gallico
I keep hoping to find another Gallico novel as brilliant as Love of Seven Dolls – but even if this one ends up not being, at least it has such a lovely cover.

Open the Door by Osbert Sitwell
Still haven’t read anything by any of the Sitwells.  Maybe Osbert’s short stories?

Elizabeth Bowen by Patricia Craig
Biography of a woman novelist, you say?

Alfred and Guinevere by James Schuyler
If you think I can resist a cheap NYRB Classics edition, then this must be your first time to Stuck-in-a-Book – welcome!

Mr Emmanuel by Louis Golding
Here’s a pair of authors I get confused… Louis Golding and Louis Bromfield.  Anyone read this Louis?

The Romany Stone by Christopher Morley
I love Christopher Morley’s essays, and this edition is beautiful – and signed!  Annoyingly, Richard Booth’s Books have started sticking price stickers to the backs of their books, and this meant the back got damaged.

Accidents of Fortune by Andrew Devonshire
Mr. Debo Mitford’s autobiography

Beside the Pearly Water by Stella Gibbons
This was rather an exciting find – dustjacket and all, if you care about those sorts of things (I do, on entirely aesthetic grounds).

Picture by Lillian Ross
I’m sure I’ve heard about this somewhere – but a look at the cinema from the 1950s was irresistible.

Popcorn by Cornelia Otis Skinner
I never blogged about it, but Our Hearts Were Young and Gay was one of my favourite reads from a few years ago, and I’ve been hoping to stumble across more by one or other or both of the authors.  There are plenty of cheap copies online, but it’s nice to stumble across them – and these light essays look great fun.

The Dolly Dialogues by Anthony Hope
I don’t remember where I heard about these, but a reprint of them has been on my Amazon wishlist for four years – nicer to find a copy while browsing, and even nicer to find a nice old edition!

So, not a bad haul – not huge quantity, but definite quality.  Have you read any of them, or want to?  As always, comments extremely welcome!

46 thoughts on “A weekend away in Paradise…

  • May 6, 2014 at 9:18 pm
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    What a beautiful cottage and a wonderful haul! I love the bohemian colour scheme and wallpaper!

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm
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      It was unbelievably beautiful! Even more than the photos make it look.

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  • May 6, 2014 at 9:34 pm
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    That is wonderful – both house and books. I'm dazzled by unfamiliar titles by Gallice and Gibbons especially,

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm
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      I fell upon them – next to each other in the same shop. I couldn't believe my eyes!

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  • May 6, 2014 at 10:59 pm
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    Such a lovely cottage. See why you loved it so much. And I am very jealous of you being at Hay on Wye. Would love to go back there one day. Wonderful choice of books.

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm
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      I do love a tulip, and there were plenty around the cottage, in many colours.

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm
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      Afraid not… lots of coughing keeping me awake at night and a bit miserable… :/

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  • May 7, 2014 at 8:41 am
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    I want to go there. Now. What am amazing house! And I really miss Hay. It's been over a year since I was there. Love your book haul – well done! I don't meet many people who know or love Christopher Morley, but he's always been one of my favourites. What a shame about Richard Booth and his price stickers! You'd think someone would have complained about it by now as he attracts a lot of serious book people.

    Off to plot a trip to Hay now. Thanks!

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:32 pm
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      I want to go right back, so I'll see you there, Helen…

      I came to Christopher Morley through the delectable Parnassus on Wheels, but also enjoyed Safety Pins. I was a bit disappointed by Richard Booth's on a couple of counts this time – but still lots of lovely books to buy.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 10:00 am
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    What a gorgeous little place! Perfect for a reading/writing retreat, with plenty of relaxing on that lovely terrace!
    The Osbert Sitwell book looks interesting. I'm very fond of Edith's poetry and would like to know more about her family, especially considering how long she spent living with her brother. I hope you'll blog about it when you've finished it!

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm
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      A lot of reading happened on that terrace! It was perfect.

      I read some of Edith's poetry earlier this year, and must confess myself a bit mystified by it, but I find them an interestingly clan nonetheless.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 10:12 am
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    Naughty Booth's! Ah, I need to go to Hay again … but maybe not for a while as my TBR is bursting as it is. I have read Osbert's autobiographies, which are marvellous. The book "Facades" is a vg collective biography of the Sitwells, I have a copy if you ever want to borrow it!

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm
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      I was surprised by them! Buying books needn't have any correlation to the books we want to read, you know that Liz ;)

      Thanks for the offer – if I enjoy the Sitwell books I have, I'll give you an email :)

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  • May 7, 2014 at 10:16 am
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    The cottage looks lovely, Simon, and I hope the setting improved your cold! As for Hay – I've never been, and one day I really must (though the bookshelves won't thank me). And the books sound fabulous and intriguing. I've never read any Sitwells either – maybe I should!

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm
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      I tried to think "If I have to have a cold, this is a lovely place to be", rather than "how annoying to have a cold when I'm on holiday."

      And KAREN – how have you never been to Hay? You would love it so much!

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  • May 7, 2014 at 11:31 am
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    Very, very, very jealous – of the cottage, the flowers, Hay on Wye, the books, the weather. Here we've had virtually nothing but rain during 2 (that is TWO) weeks of school holidays…

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm
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      Sorry to hear that, Marina! We were very, very lucky with the weather – and everything else, of course.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 11:33 am
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    Once again you've induced envy – of both the cottage and the books! I am very curious about the CO Skinner. I have several of her books of short essays (reprints of magazine pieces), but I haven't come across that title.

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm
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      Curiously enough it wasn't on her Wikipedia page – although I have now added it!

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  • May 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm
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    What a lovely cottage; and why don't the used book shops in my town have treasures like that?!
    If you should get round to reading Alfred & Guinevere, do tell us your thoughts; I found it mentioned at the back of another NYRB classic I was reading recently and co-incidentally enough ordered a copy myself as I thought it looked lovely.
    Get well soon,
    Sally Tarbox

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm
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      It's a year that I've already filled on A Century of Books, so it might well be next year before I read it, but I'll certainly report back when I do.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 2:53 pm
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    Oh Simon, what an adorable cottage. And so close to Hay. Really, who could ask for anything more (except better health to enjoy it with).

    By coincidence, I also bought Popcron at Hay on Wye in 2005. But I've never really cottoned to it, though I certainly adore Our Hearts Were Y&G.

    But really, what unusual friends, not being book buyers. I'm sure they have other lovely aspects, of course.

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm
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      It was perfection, it really was!

      It's even stranger, about not book buying, because the friends come from a book group! Takes all sorts…

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  • May 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm
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    me again
    Accidents of Fortune by Andrew Devonshire
    The world of Mitfordiana seems endless. And now they're popping up, as themselves or thinly disguised, in books and TV series. (I'm thinking, e.g., the sister in the new Upstairs Downstairs.)

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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      They seem to be less ubiquitous than a few years ago, but you're right – every avenue can be pursued, and most of them end up on my bookshelf!

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  • May 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm
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    I once took a cottage in Hay on Wye for a week. My bank manager was not impressed!

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  • May 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm
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    I am so jealous of your Stella Gibbons find! And it looks like you were living inside some Persephone endpapers!

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    • May 7, 2014 at 5:43 pm
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      That's what Thomas said on Facebook, and what I thought in the room! One of the reasons I loved it so much.

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    • May 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm
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      "And it looks like you were living inside some Persephone endpapers!"

      Ha! I love it. The possibilities are endless.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm
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    It all sounds so very you, Simon, glad you had fun…sorry about the cold though. If I should ever strike it gobsmackingly rich then you can have your pick of any cottage you like and I will buy it for you.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 5:32 pm
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    Oh, I love Our Hearts Were Young and Gay! Have you read the sequel by Emily Kimbrough, We Followed Our Hearts to Hollywood? If not, you must do so immediately! I have almost all of Emily's books; I just love her. Her writing brings to mind a very proper, modestly dressed college professor whose slip is always showing.

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    • May 31, 2014 at 2:00 pm
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      A copy of We Followed Our Hearts to Hollywood is now on its way to me!

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  • May 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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    What a beautiful cottage! I'm glad you had a lovely time. I have been wanting to read Alfred and Guinevere for ages now, so hope you will post about it.

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  • May 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm
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    It's very hot here in North Carolina but I am cooled by your descriptions of Hay where I would love to go one day. Your finds are what I would have chosen, especially the Stella Gibbons, which I had not heard of- is it funny, I wonder?

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  • May 11, 2014 at 8:19 pm
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    Am late to this string, so hope you've recovered from your cold by now. Read Alfred and Guinevere years ago. Can't recall much except that I loved it. Time for a reread! May you enjoy it, too, whenever you get to it.

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