Recent Aquisitions

Perhaps the reason I am eating an awful lot of baked beans on toast and frowning every time I withdraw money from the cash machine of late is because I may have slightly overdone it on book acquisitions recently. I am reminded of the famous quote by Erasmus –
“When I have a little money, I buy books. If any is left over, I buy food and clothes.”
So very true. Except for there is none left over, and yet I must eat anyway or I would actually starve. Thank goodness for overdrafts.

So, in my hungry and poor state, what better consolation than a pile of lovely new books to cheer my desolate mealtimes and lonely evenings while my friends are out having fun and I am left indoors with my empty purse?

I have got a cracking pile here to get stuck into and as the nights draw in I love nothing better than curling up on the sofa and getting lost in a good book.

The top one on the pile is Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, something I have been meaning to read for ages and which I will read for Simon’s Sensation Season. I am currently reading Lady Audley’s Secret and am nearly wetting myself with the suspense so I can’t wait for another book in the same vein. What I love about sensation novels from this period is that they were mostly written for publication in periodicals, which means there is a cliffhanger at the end of every paragraph – I don’t know how the original readers coped with the wait for the next instalment! Also, OUP have done themselves proud with their new cover designs and though paperbacks don’t normally appeal to me massively I am greatly enjoying the look of these new imprints on my shelves.

Next up is a gift from my American friend Emily (hi Emily!) – it’s a fascimile of Jane Austen’s A History of England, edited by A S Byatt, of all people. It’s also signed by A S Byatt which I would have been far more excited about had I received this before reading The Children’s Book! It is a lovely edition and is in full colour. I never knew it existed before so I am excited to read some more of her juvenilia.

Underneath this is Molly Keane’s Loving Without Tears, which I bought from the Brompton Road charity shop that receives a hefty proportion of my monthly salary by virtue of being dangerously convenient to visit on a lunchbreak stroll. I adore Molly Keane and have been wanting to read this for a while, so I couldn’t resist picking it up. I look forward to getting lost in her catty world of Anglo Irish aristocracy again – Desperate Reader’s review has whet my appetite immensely!

The gorgeous Bloomsbury reprint of Ada Leverson’s Love’s Shadow was given to me by the lovely Mary, to whom I lent Dorothy Whipple’s Young Anne, and she gave me this as a thank you in return. I am so excited to read this as I have heard such good things!

I snagged The Blue Castle from ebay a couple of weeks ago, a purchase prompted by reading Nicola’s great review and Elaine’s recent slew of posts on L M Montgomery, who I have become increasingly desperate to read. I never read Anne of Green Gables as a child so I thought I’d start with one of her adult novels, of which this is one, before moving on to the Anne series. The Blue Castle is apparently a great favourite of many and sadly out of print so I am very excited to discover the joy I have been promised lies within its pages!

Underneath is another recent ebay purchase – Every Good Deed, an out of print Dorothy Whipple which I have been desperate to get my hands on. It is a much slimmer volume than I had expected, though I think this is something to do with the teeny tiny print and thin war economy standard paper. I can’t wait to read this and it should give me my Dorothy fix until I *hopefully* get the new Persephone reprint of High Wages for Christmas!

Beneath this are two lovely American paperbacks; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and The Known World, which the lovely Claire sent me and which I have also heard many fantastic things about – can’t wait to get stuck into these.

Then there is the controversial Howard’s End is on the Landing…the consensus of it being marvellous has just been broken by some interesting reviews from Claire and Verity so I am looking forward to seeing where I will stand on the debate.

And finally there are six books I bought in charity shops while up North…a first edition of Margaret Atwood’s Lady Oracle, which I have wanted for a while and has a great cover of a Russian doll – one of my most favourite objects ever – and which I bought for the sum of 75p…Susan Hill’s In the Springtime of the Year, bought because I wanted to read more of her work after all the Howard’s End is on the Landing hype…Daphne Du Maurier’s The Rendezvous and Other Stories, because Danielle has been posting such tantalising reviews of her stories lately, Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates, because I loved Revolutionary Road, have got some lovely copies of his other books from Vintage, and will be doing a reading challenge on him soon (keep your eyes peeled – with giveaways too!), Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford, which I later discovered is not Highland Fling at all, but Christmas Pudding (also by her) in the wrong dustjacket…slightly annoying but at least it’s still a Nancy Mitford! and finally, The Angel’s Game, which I desperately wanted after loving The Shadow of the Wind but refused to buy new – my stubborness paid off as it was mine for just £2.50.

So, lots to get on with! Has anyone read any of these? What do you think I should tackle first?


  1. Eva says:

    What a fun pile! And isn't Lady Audley's Secret marvelous? 🙂 The Woman in White is more like it than The Moonstone, which is my least fave of the Collins I've read so far, but most people seem to love it!

  2. verity says:

    Hehe – what a wonderful pile! Maybe you should join me in the non-essential spending 6 weeks…Richard Yates is wonderful; my colleague and I discovered him before he got trendy ;last year. I look forward to your challenge.I LOVED Guernsey Literary etc – I spoke to a librarian from Guernsey at my Cambridge conference who worked in the local studies dept and she said that it was pretty accurate.Thanks for linking to my review – will be interested to see what you make of it.

  3. JoAnn says:

    Now that is a huge stack of books!! I love the quote by Erasmus, and you've certainly got some great books. The Moonstone was outstanding – one of my favorites the year I read it. Everyone's talking about Howards End is On The Landing…

  4. Bloomsbury Bell says:

    I am so envious of Every Good Deed – I am certainly expecting High Wages from my family for Christmas! Such a great pile to get stuck in to – I completely agree with Erasmus and I am glad that I am not the only one living VERY meagrely as a result of my book addiction. I have literally just finished eating a WILTED salad which, frankly, is so depressing BUT I have my lovely recent Virago purchases to cheer me up and thank god that tea is not an expensive commodity!

  5. adevotedreader says:

    As soon as I started reading this post, I thought of the Erasmus quote so am glad you incluided it. It's good to know I'm not alone in overdoing the book buying!The Moonstone is great fun, especially for hilarious characters like Gabriel Betteridge and Miss Clack. Austen's history book contains some wicked summations of the Tudors and L M Montgomery is a great comfort read. Aside from the Anne books, my favourites are the three volumes of the Emily series (starting with Emily of New Moon), worth considering if you enjoy The Blue Castle.

  6. jennysbooks says:

    SO jealous that you managed to score a hardback copy of The Blue Castle. My fingers are itching to put a nice clear mylar cover on top of that tattered dust jacket. Start with that one! It is very wonderful!

  7. Molly says:

    Well, I can totally relate to the woes of a low bank account – but I must say that the books you managed to purchase are well worth in number of nights of baked beans on toast :)Enjoy all that great reading!

  8. theliterarystew says:

    What a great pile of books! You're going to love the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Like you, I haven't read the Anne of Green Gables books. That might be a good idea to start with one of her adult novels. So jealous that you have that out-of-print Whipple!

  9. Peter says:

    Hi, Rachel! I got here via theliterarystew's link in her blog. I'm green with envy at your recent acquisitions. I think you're gonna love The Moonstone!

  10. Paperback Reader says:

    Fantastic haul! I don't like baked beans… hence why I am sticking to my ban (I really wish now that I hadn't broken the pre-existing yet unofficial one for HEiotL).I LOVE The Moonstone and prefer it to The Woman in White. Glad to hear that you are enjoying Lady Audley's Secret as I am still intending to fit in in this week somehow.You have never read the Anne of Green Gables books?! Oh my, you are in for a wonderful treat.

  11. Rachel says:

    Eva – I am loving Lady Audley! I wish I didn't have to come to work so I could sit at home and keep reading!! I am interested to find out where I stand on The Moonstone…it will only be my second Wilkie after the excellent TWIW so I hope I won't be disappointed!Verity – I think I may indeed be joining you…am glad you recommend Yates and the Potato Pie books…I think they are the ones I am most excited about as well as The Blue Castle.JoAnn – High praise for The Moonstone! I hope I love it!Naomi – Hehe! Thank goodness tea is cheap or where would we be?! Will be sure to pass on the Whipple once I've read it!DevotedReader – Hi! Thanks for the L M Montgomery recommendations, and I am pleased the Austen is good!Jenny – Oh I can't wait for The Blue Castle now! I know I know I need to get some of those covers..I have so many fragile jackets that need protecting!Molly – Hi! Thanks for commenting! The books definitely make the beans worth it. :)LiteraryStew – Thanks! Love the new blog. I'm glad there is another Anne virgin out there! I have heard such great things about Potato Pie and I can't wait!Peter – Hi! Thanks for commenting! I am very excited for The Moonstone, I'm in the perfect mood for sensation novels at the moment!Claire – Haha! Yes I am worried HEiotL will have been a waste of money now…never mind. High praise for The Moonstone again..can't wait for this! You will LOVE Lady Audley, I can't put it down!! I know, I can't believe I got through childhood without Anne…but I am going to put that right as soon as possible!

  12. Sophie says:

    Oh, what a great haul! JA's History of England is great — really snappy so I hope you enjoy it. I read The Woman in White recently and loved it and so many people have told me (as Claire says) that The Moonstone is better: it's on my TBR list so I'll be interested to hear what you make of it. I am in the middle of HEiotL now, and must admit I am veering towards the Disappointed Camp, although I am enjoying it still and so far wouldn't tell anyone not to read it. And Guernsey was one of my absolute favourites last year! You definitely have some treats in store!

  13. savidgereads says:

    Oh I would have been jealous of either of those Nancy Mitford books frankly as they are the only two I dont own of hers.I am glad you are enjoying Lady Audley… shes a one! Guernsey book is FABULOUS as is The Rendezvous and Other Stories, though I have enjoued The Breaking Point as the darkest collection of Daphne's short stories.

  14. Vintage Reading says:

    A vintage Nancy Mitford! Whether it's Christmas Pudding or Highland Fling I think that's a pretty good find. I love The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate – comic novels are so difficult to do well and Mitford is brilliant. Look forward to your review.

  15. Danielle says:

    I think I would opt for a week's worth of beans on toast for such a lovely pile of books. And they all look good. I loved Lady Audleys Secret and I love anything by Wilkie Collins. I hope you enjoy DDM's short stories–I'm nearly finished with the collection I've been reading and will be digging around in my piles to see what else by her I've got to read (short story-wise). Enjoy your goodies! 🙂

  16. Darlene says:

    I would rather spend money on books than anything else in the world…well, travelling to London is up there as well (to buy books, of course).You will absolutely love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I promise you. And how surprising to find the wrong book inside the dust jacket on the Mitford! Can a book that's called Christmas Pudding be a bad thing though? I'm really intrigued by your Austen book, R bought me a book for Christmas a few years ago called A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens. Was this the thing to write back then? Well, my copy is dated 1925 so not all that close to Austen's era. I've just had a peek and it's a lovely little red hardback printed by Oxford University Press, a terrific segue to say that I love the new editions as well! My goodness, all these wonderful books should keep you very busy for the next little while, enjoy!

  17. Rachel says:

    Sophie – Hello! Thanks for commenting. I love The Woman in White so if The Moonstone is indeed better I know I'm in for a real treat! I am intrigued to see what I make of Howard's End …….am going to explore a bit more of Susan Hill's fiction first though I think.Simon – I am glad the book inside the jacket was still a Mitford – if it hadn't have been I would have been really annoyed!Just finished Lady Audley – she's a one indeed! Can't wait for the DDM stories!Nicola – Yes I thought it was an excellent find regardless and in the most unlikely place too – I only paid a £1 for it so either way it's a good deal and I look forward to reading it – I love Nancy Mitford too!Danielle – Thanks! If it wasn't for you I would never have bought the DDM stories so I am excited to read them!Darlene – Me too, exactly, though replace London with New York!I am so excited to read The Guernsey book! And I think Christmas Pudding will be just as good as Highland Fling anyway so I am not too bothered – it was quite a surprise though!That Dickens sounds lovely – I think the Austen is some of her juvenilia but I can't say I've looked too closely at it yet…I will of course report back when I do!

  18. makedoandread says:

    Wow, I almost don't know where to start with a stack like that! TOTALLY worth eating beans on toast for awhile. Jane Austen's History of England is delightful. I have the same edition, although sadly mine was not signed by Byatt. I read a library copy years ago, but when I saw this edition in a store I had to snap it up. I love that it includes Jane's writing and Cassandra's illustrations as well as the typewritten text. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a marvelous book. I couldn't put it down, but don't worry – you won't want to!And I'm so pleased that you found a copy of L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. It really is a wonderful novel of self-liberation and Valancy is one of her best characters. (And now I have to resist the temptation to go browse all my Montgomerys!)

  19. Rachel says:

    Glad you like it Makedo!Oooh you have made me even more excited for the three you mention, especially The Blue Castle. I will make that my next read I think, I am pretty certain I am coming down with a cold and am sensing a sick day at home in bed will be coming up…The Blue Castle would be perfect comfort reading!!

  20. Kinga says:

    Honestly I am not too familiar with most of the books but just cannot be quiet about the new CRZ novel (The Angel's Game) as I am reading it right now. Two things without revealing anything: (1) do not believe anything (or just 1%) that the reviews tell you about it – if you are the kind of reader who reads reviews at all beforehand (2) leave enough time for yourself to read it – I never understood totally what it meant when somebody said 'It was the kind of book I read as slowly as I was able to so that it could last longer…'Now I know.

  21. Rachel says:

    Kinga -Well you have made me REALLY want to read The Angel's Game now!

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