Somerset: The Books

Whilst down here in Somerset, I have been mostly adoring the cat, but also jaunting off to various places – including, yesterday, sunny Lyme Regis…

…and whilst out and about I have, of course, been buying some books.  Being the gent that I am, I thought I’d share my spoils with you – asking the usual questions: have you read them, and what do you think?

Letters – Sylvia Townsend Warner
I had a copy out of the library, but I was pleased to find one myself, for the chapter of my thesis I’m currently writing.

Look Back With Gratitude – Dodie Smith
You might remember that I loved Dodie Smith’s first volume of autobiography, so I was excited to see another volume – and risked life and limb to rescue it from a teetering pile on top of a bookcase.

The White/Garnett Letters – David Garnett and T.H. White
And this will be useful for my final chapter, which includes sections on David Garnett’s Lady into Fox!  Our Vicar was pleased that some of my purchases could be considered work-related.

Love in the Sun – Leo Walmsley
Ever since Jane/Fleur Fisher raved about this, I’ve been hoping to stumble across a copy.  Thanks, Lyme Regis!

Journey to Paradise – Dorothy Richardson
I’m rather too scared to try Richardon’s endless Pilgrimage series, but I thought this collection of short stories and autobiographical pieces might be a good way in.

Gone To Earth – Mary Webb
I read somewhere that this helped inspire Lady into Fox, and have been hoping to find a copy.  This trip has unearthed (ahem) a lot of titles I’ve had on my mental wishlist!

Injury Time – Beryl Bainbridge
An Awfully Big Adventure – Beryl Bainbridge
I’m all ready for Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week, now!  Are you?

The Hand of Mary Constable  – Paul Gallico
This looks like Gallico in surreal/psychological mode, which is how I like him…

Somewhere Towards The End – Diana Athill
This brings my Athill autobiographical volumes to three, without having read any of them… but this is the one which appeals most.

Woman in a Lampshade – Elizabeth Jolley
Short stories by another author I’m stockpiling without yet reading!

Non-Combatants and Others -Rose Macaulay
Love me some Dame Rose, and didn’t have this title yet.

To Margaret, From Pat

This is something a bit different – probably valueless, but once I’d seen it, I couldn’t leave it behind.  It’s a handwritten collection of excerpts and poems, clearly given as a romantic gift from Pat to Margaret.  It’s not dated, but based on the poems included, it’s post-1940; based on the handwriting, I don’t think it’s much after.  How lovely!

39 thoughts on “Somerset: The Books

  • May 8, 2012 at 11:22 pm
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    What a lovely book that last one is, and such a romantic idea for a special gift. It makes you wonder who Pat and Margaret are/were and if they lived happily ever after in the end.

    I'm also collecting unread Diana Athill memoirs! Somewhere Towards the End appeals to me too, but I feel as if I ought to read the one that depicts her childhood first. I see Persephone has her short story volume, which I quite fancy too.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:35 am
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      I so want to know more about Pat and Margaret! It doesn't seem the sort of thing someone would give away during their life, but would you give this away if it were your parents'? So many questions!

      I think I might start with Stet for Athill, as I get a bit bored with childhoods in biographies sometimes… they're often of more interest to the subject than the reader!

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  • May 9, 2012 at 12:34 am
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    I'm really dying to know what your thesis is on. These books all look wonderful! Do let us know which ones are especially worth checking out.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:36 am
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      Thanks Samantha – it's on middlebrow novels and the fantastic between the world wars – one of my chps is on Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, and another includes something on Lady into Fox by David Garnett, so that's why those books are useful!

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  • May 9, 2012 at 3:19 am
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    You always pick up some gems. All new to me though I have read about these authors so I will be waiting to see what you think of them once you've read them.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:37 am
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      I'm a well practised book shopper ;) I've already read one of the Beryl Bs since I posted this, and I'm keen to get onto the Macaulay before too long…

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  • May 9, 2012 at 4:11 am
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    That is sunny indeed! Looks like a beautiful day by the sea.

    I love posts with new books, especially when most of the books featured are ones I'd love to read, as they are here. STW's letters and The White/Garnett Letters are both on my to-read list and Jane's enthusiasm for him has made me eager to try Walmsley, Love in the Sun in particular. Of these, the only one I've read is Somewhere Towards the End. I love the way Athill writes but there is something about her that rubs me the wrong way, which makes for an interesting but not always pleasurable reading experience. And what a treat to have found that handwritten book – such a beautifully personalised gift for the mysterious Margaret.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:38 am
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      I'm glad we picked one of very few sunny days to go! It rained most of the week.

      I love both reading and writing bought-books posts – but I do worry sometimes when I look back at them and realise how few of the books I've read!

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:38 am
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      Oo, thanks Margaret! I'm a bit daunted about reading Gone to Earth, as I'm afraid that Cold Comfort Farm will make it look ridiculous to me, but I'll definitely give it a go!

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  • May 9, 2012 at 6:22 am
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    Lovely photo of sunny Lyme Regis! Also equally lovely to see your newly bought books lying there alfresco. :) Did you get thsoe books from the Books Bought Bookshop? That's the only bookshop I managed to look into when I was there two years ago.
    I'm really interested in the Dorothy Richardson collection you've got there. And endless as it may seem, I am still very keen to start on her Pilgrimage series one of these days!

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:39 am
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      I can't remember the name of the bookshop, but it might well have been that one – it was the main one, as the closed bookshop was a tiny, newish one.

      My love of short books means I'm unlikely to try Pilgrimage for a while, but I'm excited about this collection!

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  • May 9, 2012 at 7:39 am
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    What a lovely haul you have there. I found An Awfully Big Adventure and Master Georgie yesterday while doing my shift in the Oxfam bookshop… Picked up Injury Time as well, but have stashed that in 'my' box because I hadn't got enough cash on me for three books!

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:40 am
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      I've read Injury Time now – it's very good, and very odd! I think Beryl B is an author I'm going to love.

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  • May 9, 2012 at 8:46 am
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    My mother loved the Leo Walmsley and even though I have never heard of the Paul G one, so far it's thumbs-up for anything by him.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:41 am
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      I've only read a couple by him – loved Love of Seven Dolls and wasn't very excited about Jennie, so I'm yet to see how I feel about him in general! I do have very many of his waiting to be read…

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  • May 9, 2012 at 10:28 am
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    Love the photo of Lyme Regis, such a beautiful place and the book shop was busy the day we went in looking for Penguins.
    Locally I found a lovely small book of poetry and was going to buy it but then thought I'd better not when I turned the page and saw an inscription from an unknown man to an unknown woman with a pressed flower in the middle. It came home w/ me where I continue to preserve the sentiment and flower. Sounds like you had a good time there.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:42 am
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      It was beautiful! The shop isn't very well organised, with fiction sections all over the place, including a shelf of Penguins and one of Viragos.

      Lovely book to have there, and with the flower too!

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  • May 9, 2012 at 11:46 am
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    Oh it looks so lovely where you are! Here it is dreary and rainy still. Yuk. Haven't read any of the books you bought (great haul) but I do own a copy of Somewhere Towards The End, and having heard Diana Athill speak on the radio, I am already a devoted fan. I've also got Stet by her – is that on your unread list too?

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:43 am
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      The day afterwards it started raining again! Today is looking lovely, though.

      I think Stet is one of the ones I have, and it's the one which is likely to interest me the most – I might start there.

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  • May 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm
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    What a lovely book the last one sounds. I once found the most amazing love letter (dated 1928) in an old hardback poetry book I had bought. I felt like I was intruding when I read it, but it was so beautiful it stays preserved in the book on my shelf. I love Mary Webb and Paul Gallico. Am intrigued by Woman in a Lampshade…..

    Frances

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:43 am
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      Lovely! I bought my Mum a 1920s book about Jane Austen a while ago, and it had a letter in it from the original giver.

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  • May 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm
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    What great books Simon – some really nice finds! I have to say that I love Dorothy Richardson – I read the whole of Pilgrimage many years ago and thought that she was an unsung hero of modernism – Woolf gets all the kudos but Richardson is much more experimental. My middle child (daughter) was so enthused by my constantly telling her how wonderful Richardson was that she ended up doing her disseration on comparisons of Woolf and Richardson. So do try her – if I remember correctly Journey to Paradise is not so complex as Pilgrimage but very enjoyable. And if you can copy with Ivy, you can sure cope with Dorothy!!

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:44 am
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      Ah, but Ivy is short! I think I'd enjoy the writing, but I'm put off by the idea of a dozen volumes… still, I suppose I ought to read it, given my championship of experimental women writers.

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  • May 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm
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    Fab books Simon. Gone to Earth was the first ever Virago I read, when I was 17 (23 years ago – ahem!).

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:45 am
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      Really? I wonder what mine was… Provincial Lady probably, although that wasn't a Virago edition.

      I'm a bit nervous about reading it, given Stella Gibbons' satire of that type of novel, but I'll definitely give it a go!

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  • May 10, 2012 at 2:12 am
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    Haven't read any of them, but they look lovely all together on the rocks — as does Lyme Regis. That last book of poetry does indeed look like a nice prize. It strikes me as something that could prompt a novel of its own — the story behind the poems/the couple. Enjoy!

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:46 am
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      It reminds me a bit of The Red Leather Diary – somebody found this diary, and investigated it etc. There's a review on here somewhere – I think it was by Lily Koppel.

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  • May 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm
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    Most intrigued to learn how "Gone to Earth" inspired "Lady into Fox", I will wait to be illuminated!
    It is *not* sunny in Oxford.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:47 am
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      I can't remember where I read this 'fact' – perhaps there will be no relation at all!

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:47 am
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      Isn't it lovely? I'm pleased now about my hitherto-unrewarded investigation of small books whose spines I can't read!

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  • May 11, 2012 at 8:24 am
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    Well I am a recent convert to Beryl Bainbridge and am loving her so lovely you have some of her treats ahead. I need to work out which of her books I am going to read for that special week of Annabels.

    The Athill is brilliant! I loved it.

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    • May 12, 2012 at 10:48 am
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      I am now a convert too! But I think I'll type up my review and save it til the week to publish…

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  • May 16, 2012 at 10:28 am
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    How lovely! And you look like you were lucky to get some sunshine:) I think handwritten collections are wonderful and precious as they're usually unique. And I like your book and plants arrangement!

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  • May 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm
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    I'm rather late saying so, but I am delighted that you have a copy of Love in the Sun. If you want to follow the story forward, si remember that the Walmsley Society has the next few books back in print.

    Mary Webb is terrbly unfashionable, but I love her and I can see what David Garnett might have picked up on.

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