Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Perfect Afternoon

Started at the Oxfam shop, where I was due to meet my friend after her Saturday morning volunteer shift ended at 1.00pm.  Any excuse to visit a charity shop is most delightful, and to add to the pleasure there was an Age Concern shop right next door.  I bought "My Dear, I Wanted toTell You" by Louisa Young, in the Age Concern shop.  This is a novel set in the First World War, by the grand-daughter of Robert Falcon Scott's widow, Kathleen, (from her second marriage), and was serialised on Woman's Hour on publication, so I am looking forward to reading it.

Passing next door to the Oxfam shop, I was delighted to find there a set of two cassette tapes of Shirley Williams giving talks to Woman's Hour (didn't realise the common link until this afternoon), in 1996.  She is talking about her childhood, about being the daughter of one of my favourite authors of all time, Vera Brittain, and then moving on to her life in politics.  Great listening- thank goodness we didn't throw out our last ghetto blaster in a recent clear-out, as it is the only machine in the house which I can play the tapes on.

Next I picked up a copy of "The Mitfords, Letters between Six Sisters" (published 2007), edited by Charlotte Mosley, a Mitford daughter-in-law (the surname tells you which one).  This, I nearly said, would add to my collection of Mitford books, but I don't actually have this collection.  I have passed every book on to elder daughter, and she has enjoyed them just as much as I have. Jessica Mitford's famous "Hons and Rebels", two novels by Nancy, a biography of all six sisters by Mary Lovell, and lastly, Debo Devonshire's memoir, "Wait for Me".

The last is very recent, and I purchased it following a visit by elder daughter and me to Chatsworth, which we both enjoyed very much.

I was about to leave with my friend, when I spotted  W Somerset Maugham's "Cakes and Ale", a very old book first published in 1930.  I don't find WSM interesting in himself, but having just read some biographical works about Thomas Hardy, I have come across a reference to this book several times.  Apparently it contains a descriptive parody of TH, which caused great offence to the latter's widow, Florence.

To my surprise, my friend told me her book group  had read this book.  As she is thinking of leaving her book group because they persist in picking boring books, this was not a great advertisement.  However, as I said, I have a particular motive for buying this, and may not read all of it.

My friend and I then went for lunch and spent the next three and a half hours talking non-stop.  This was most enjoyable.

Later, after I returned home. I was still in non-stop talk mode, and this annoyed hubby during "Strictly".  He put up with it for so long, and then could stand it no longer. "Will you PLEASE stop talking!"  He is, as I have said before, a man of few words.

However, nothing could detract from the pure pleasure of an afternoon spent with a very old friend, which included two charity shops, a kitchen shop, and much talk about books, our daughters, our holidays, families and a long shared history.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

My Library Book

So I now owned two copies of Thomas Hardy's "Life and Art", two copies of Thomas Hardy's "Life"  and two copies of "The Young Thomas Hardy" by Robert Gittings.    I had been searching for this last on Amazon, because our local public library had the companion volume, "The Older Thomas Hardy".  I read "The Older", and returned it to the library with a suggestion.

Would they like to accept my donation of the younger?  I explained my disappointment, on finding that only half the material was available.  "I feel that other people who are studying TH may wish to have both the volumes available".  The third person I spoke to (having been passed along a chain of command) agreed.

I was pleased.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Amazon Marketplace

Secondhand books!  One of the greatest pleasures of life.  I ordered 14 books about Thomas Hardy. Such was the enthusiasm with which I pressed "buy" that I later found out I had ordered the same book in different editions in three cases.  Never mind, three of the duplicates cost the enormous sum of £0.01 each.  I can scarcely believe that anyone finds it worthwhile to trade in books that they can only sell for one penny.  I suppose that they make a small profit on the post and package costs which are £2.80 per book.

The most expensive book in the collection was only £7.49.    Two are individually numbered copies of a book published in a limited edition of two thousand.  That feels rather special, even if they are both ex-library books, with the old date-stamps still intact.  The older of the two has date stamps going back to 1938. That is almost antique!  They are from university libraries.  One of these cost £3.99 and the other £2.49.

Another book cost £0.87.  How does that work? How did someone arrive at that figure for an out-of-print copy of TH's Notebooks? 

I am not complaining.  It has been like Christmas here for the last two weeks - exciting parcels arriving by almost every post, and an absolute feast of interesting reading.