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gertrude

February 2018

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reading

May books

frankausingsupper

Miss Jacobson’s Journey, Carola Dunn
The Garden Plot , Marty Wingate
Berry & Co., Dornford Yates
The Roses of No Man’s Land , Lyn Macdonald
We Made a Garden , Margery Fish
I Murdered my Library, Linda Grant
And Berry Came Too, Dornford Yates
Meatspace , Nikesh Shukla
Sing for your Supper, Pamela Frankau
The House That Berry Built, Dornford Yates

Miss Jacobson’s Journey is the first book in Carola Dunn’s Rothschild trilogy. As Regency romances go, it’s quite good, with a feisty and unusual heroine. I’m now on the next book, Lord Roworth’s Reward and got half way through still waiting for something to happen. Of course, we all know what will happen: ‘Do you know a village called Waterloo?’ If you want an account of the Waterloo Ball and the battle, read Vanity Fair, why don’t you? OK, these books are only meant to be light romances but for me they’re not a patch on the Daisy Dalrymple series.

Linda Grant has written an account of downsizing and therefore needing to get rid of hundreds of books (been there). She’s called it I Murdered My Library, it’s a Kindle Single and I borrowed it from the Kindle Users’ Library. It’s really just an essay and very much me, me, me. Here are some of her statements.

You cannot have a taste for minimalist décor if you seriously read books.

True enough.

I would be ashamed of a book whose spine was not broken.

As a notoriously ‘clean reader’, I can’t agree with this.

I threw one box in the recycling bin. I’m going to hell, a hell in which eternity is a Kindle with a dead battery.

No, you’re not going to a bookless hell because you will soon be buying more books, mark my words.

The death of the book, but also my death. Because I am kidding myself if I think that I am going to re-read a fraction of the books I have brought with me, or finish a fraction of those I have never got round to reading.

It would be simpler if we knew how long we’d got, wouldn’t it?
The book is quite an amusing way to pass half an hour.

In the past, I’ve tried a couple of Pamela Frankau’s books and given up on them. Perhaps the time just wasn’t right because I got straight into Sing for Your Supper. You can buy a copy of this reprint edition for 1p on Amazon but mine is remarkable because I got it in a charity shop. How often does that happen nowadays? An old book, in a dustwrapper?

The events take place during the 1920s. We begin with an internal monologue from Blanche, who has spent fourteen years looking after the Weston children and still joins them wherever they go for the summer. This is usually a seaside resort, as Mr Weston runs a Pierrot show. Forget the characters in Noel Streatfeild/Susan Scarlett’s Poppies for England. Mr Weston is a gent and his elder son is at Eton (fees paid by an uncle). ‘Mr Philip’ is a handsome charmer, always living on the brink of financial disaster. The children, Gerald, Sarah and Thomas, are at various boarding schools and then join the troupe for the summer season. They are loyal to the shows (which sound awful) but Gerald is starting to be disgusted by his father’s hand to mouth existence and planning a very different future for himself. Sarah is a self obsessed, self-dramatising teenager and Thomas is – Thomas. A strange, stocky little boy, looking quite unlike the other family members, he’s by far the most interesting character in the book. He has what some would call ‘the sight’, possibly inherited from his grandmother, and can often see the future. As he can’t explain this to anyone, his behaviour is considered a problem. He and Blanche are particularly close.

During the summer of this story, Thomas makes friends with tomboyish (and anorexic, although the word isn’t used) Rab, whose presence there is a mystery until her rich, American mother Paula turns up, having secretly married Philip Weston. Now there’s a new family unit and a very wealthy one. Will it gel? Can the children accept Paula as a stepmother? England or America? I won’t say, except that this story really belongs to Blanche and Thomas. I loved it.

Comments

I got it in a charity shop. How often does that happen nowadays? An old book, in a dustwrapper?

Rarely enough that I get a shock.

Well, I say that, but even setting aside Oxfam bookshops, there are a couple where I'm not entirely surprised to see some. I've always been curious about this decline, do charity shops turn them away or do people take them to second hand bookshops/auctioneers? When dealing with the property of a fairly recently deceased relative, who wasn't a great reader, there were hardbacks in dustwrappers, which I presume went to a charity shop, so I know they still exist.

I started reading Grant's essay (or a truncated version of it?) in The Guardian. Very quotable, but not quite relatable for me as I am in denial about how many books I have and the space they're taking up.
I found that book in a hospice shop. Now that our SHBS has closed, the only place for old books is the museum shop. They charge ridiculous prices, though, e.g. £3.00 for a beaten up old Famous Five book with scribble and colouring in. Not that I would buy a FF but it annoys me when I wouldn't pay 20p at a boot sale for a book in that state.