Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Bits and pieces and in praise of library stores

In the end I wasn't too disappointed by missing the book-talk about An equal stillness (it turned out to be a pretty stressful evening as just as I was about to sit down, I logged on to send a library user some pictures of a manuscript that I'd taken with my own camera (which doesn't work with my staff machine), and found out that something had gone terribly wrong with our circulation system, and all of our final year students books had mysteriously gone short I found out that it wasn't my problem in the end, but as it's something I'm responsible for implementing in my college, I was pretty worried, and not looking forward to having to manually renew 103 people's books). I was trying to explain to my boyfriend that I think it is probably best to go to an author talk *before* you have read the book; I did this with Vikram Seth's Two Lives, and Sebastien Faulks' Human Traces and came out longing to read the book, and deeply frustrated (as I was a library trainee, on about half of what I earn now) that they were only available in hardback. Having enjoyed An equal stillness so much I was a little bit concerned that it might spoil it for me, in the way that a film sometimes spoils the book, because I had so many wonderful pictures in my head from reading the book. But actually, who am I kidding, it would have been good to hear Francesca Kay, but as she lives in Oxfordshire, hopefully another opportunity may arise.
Anyway, I had a nice evening reading Miss Buncle Married and eating homemade strawberry ice cream (75 ml single cream, 75 ml clotted cream, 50g icing sugar, 225g pureed and sieved strawberries, frozen and churned, in case you're interested). It wasn't as special as Miss Buncle's book, but it was hugely enjoyable, and had its own twist too. I won't write more about it, as I know that most of the visitors here haven't yet read the first book. But I am looking forward to reading the final volume (after a suitable pause) in due course. I noted from the inside of the cover that D.E. Stevenson was a hugely prolific writer, and I've just found this which might interest anyone who has read Miss Buncle's book. I checked my public library catalogue and found quite extensive holdings of her backlist, so I shall have a read of some of those. Happily there were a couple on site, so I picked up Mrs Tims (looks a bit like Diary of a Provincial Lady, possibly) and Still Glides the Stream, and I will let you know if they live up to Miss Buncle.
I think that I am extremely lucky in having access to a public library with such a good archive of books, as lots of the things I am interested in reading are very out of print, and thus hugely expensive on Amazon. It gives me the opportunity to try things, and if I don't like them then they can go straight back again, and it also saves on shelf space. Which brings me on to today's book - I briefly started at lunchtime the intriguingly titled My friend says its bullet proof by Penelope Mortimer, which I ordered and collected at lunchtime - I was pleased to see that it was a lovely green Virago edition with a very haunting cover. Some of you might remember her as the author of the Persephone title Daddy's gone a-hunting. She was also married to John Mortimer, of the Rumpole books, which both my boyfriend and Dad are fans of (I also picked up a non-Rumpole book for my boyfriend, called Quite Honestly, although I am not sure if he will like it as the main protagonist is female). I'm looking forward to finding out what exactly is bullet proof! I was reading her author's blurb in the front of the volume in the queue to check it out and think she sounds like an interesting character so I must hunt out her autobiography.
Here's hoping for a more peaceful evening - I'm absolutely exhausted by the end of term chaos (as you may well guess from such a rambly and unfocussed post), and the end isn't in sight for another week and a half. At least on 30th June I will be off work for 6 days - 9 more working days and counting...


  1. Mrs Tims is one of the forthcoming Bloomsbury Group.

  2. Thanks for the link I have filed it away for future use. I had no idea that Stevenson was so prolific and I am hoping Persephone will publish Miss Buncle Gets Married. Am avidly awaiting my copy of Miss Buncle's book in the post.

  3. That is embarassing Paperback Reader - I even have it on advance order from Amazon! Hmm, shall I be good and cancel the order and read the library copy?! It looks like the sort of book that I will want to own though - I looked at it briefly last night and it is perfect for a Teaser Tuesday.

  4. Haha! Oops. Ah well, I'd read it first and then make up your mind if it's one you would love to own. The prices for the Bloomsbury Group on Amazon are fairly reasonable anyway.
    I'm looking forward to the teaser.

  5. I think I will take it back (at least I hadn't paid 85p to reserve it) as I was really looking forward to reading the new Bloomsbury group editions, and they are my reward at the end of 6 weeks without book-buying...And you're right, they're only 4.79. You'll have to hang on for a teaser for a couple of months!


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