I have a lot of children’s classic books, some which originally belonged to my own children but quite a lot of them I bought because I hadn’t read them and I wanted to catch up with things which I had somehow missed out on.
But the books in the photo above were recent purchases from an Edinburgh bookshop and were incredible bargains. The first one, the small blue hardback is called The Children of Primrose Lane by Noel Streatfield. I swithered about buying this one but when I opened it up and read what Noel Streatfield had written as a preamble, I only got to the first sentence before deciding to buy it, she says: This book is about wartime Britain. That was enough for me.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Graham Rust. Well, who doesn’t love that book and this one is lovely, actually far nicer than the Folio edition, surprisingly.
The Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning and illustrated by Kate Greenaway. Beatrix Potter was appalled by Greenaway’s slightly out of scale drawings but I love them. I have a thing about classic fairy tales, probably because I wasn’t told any by my mother, she told me horror stories about concentration camps instead! Honestly it’s a wonder I turned out so normal, well I think I am! Of course the fairy tale versions that we know have all been sanitized for wee ears. Originally they were scarier and quite naughty.
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by J.R.R. Tolkien, illustrated by Pauline Baines. It’s a book of verses which was published after The Hobbit. Pauline Baines also did the book covers for C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books in the 1960s.
This is Persephone Book no 29 and as I recall I bought it from a charity bookshop in St Andrews more than a year ago but I read recently on a blog (which one?) that it was a great read so I got down to reading it at last.
Frances Hodgson Burnett is of course well known to us through her books The Little Princess and The Secret Garden but this is the first of her books for adults which I’ve read and I really did enjoy it.
Emily Fox-Seton has the knack of finding good in everyone, her character is so sweet and good that she should really be a bit of a sickener but amazingly she isn’t. She’s not a fool or a prig but has great common sense and is stoical about her situation. She is a 34 year old woman of good breeding but without money and she has to earn her living by being a bit of a dogsbody for ladies who will pay her to help them, securing good cooks for them or tracking down bargains at sales, anything which will enable her to keep life and soul together.
At 34 she’s deemed to be not only on the shelf but positively dusty and she seems never to have any hopes in that direction for herself, but as this book is a bit of a fairy tale for adults, and given the title of the book it’s obvious that things are going to take that turn for her. Like all good fairy tales though, there is a dark period of danger around the middle of the book. Will it all fall apart for Emily? Well what do you think!
If you want to read this book you can download it from Project Gutenberg it’s under the name of Emily Fox-Seton there.
There are lots of Frances Hodgson Burnett books to choose from, have a look here.
I suppose there are worse addictions to be afflicted with but I just couldn’t stop myself from hitting every second-hand bookshop which I found on our journey from Fife to East Anglia. My excuse is that I think we’re going to suffer yet another horrendous winter and if we’re snowed/iced in again I’ll need plenty of reading material, but if I’m honest, I’m never going to be in danger of running out of books to read. I think they just about all come under the category of comfort reads and they’re all fairly ancient, the most recent publication is Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy and even that’s fairly old – 1985, and probably isn’t a comfort read but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. So this is what I bought and I have to say that I don’t feel too naughty because I could have bought a lot more …
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Setons by O. Douglas
The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby
Going It Alone by Michael Innes
Voices in Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher
An Academic Question by Barbara Pym
An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym
Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym
Ankle Deep by Angela Thirkell
Close Quarters by Angela Thirkell
Growing Up by Angela Thirkell
Enter Sir Robert by Angela Thirkell
Summer by Edith Wharton
… and last but not least Crime Stories from The Strand which is a lovely Folio book of short stories by crime writers such as Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, A.E.W. Mason and many more. I was especially chuffed to get the four Thirkells, three of which I bought from a stall in Cambridge market, her books don’t often turn up in Scotland for some reason, strange really as she’s at least half Scottish.
I’m hoping to have sorted through some photos from our trip by tomorrow.