Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Looking forward to bookshops

What season are we in now? Is it mid-spring, late spring, thinking about summer (though it isn't here yet) or what? It's all a bit 'not quite anything' as far as the weather is concerned. With books, however, we're moving into summer escape books. It's almost, almost better than the release of a publisher's Christmas list. Two are certain 'buy it nows' just as soon as they come in to the local bookshop. Katie Fforde (someone I think would be nice to have coffee with) will publish A Perfect Proposal early next month and Veronica Henry has gone back to the coast with The Beach Hut. Until then, I'll reread Wedding Season.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Considering and changing my mind

(still getting to grips with blogger and images - sorry)

For most friends and fellow readers, it isn't always the act of reading that makes you content, it's the very act of opening the book and browsing in any local bookshop glancing up and down spines and through blurbs.

I'm keen for next payday to arrive as there are some lovely summer books on the market at the moment. I can't quite afford to wander into Hatchards or Waterstones just yet as those shelves are stuffed with too many temptations. My shortlist is growing at an alarming rate, but I'm considering buying The Postmistress (opening chapter here) and such a gorgeous cover.

Any recommendations or advice to avoid? I'm in a popular fiction frame of mind....

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Persephone grey and cherry blossom

What a wretched, rainy day. Now, I like the look of deep pink cherry blossom against a slate-gray sky, I just don't like walking about in driving rain. Obviously jeans, light jumper and a mac were inadequate clothing for today. Should it even be this cold in May? I really could have done with warm hat and gloves, so came home early from a local (unsuccessful) book hunt and wrapped my hands round my huge Cath Kidston mug of tea. Small design flaw with that in that it keeps my hands toasty warm, though the tea cools down before I finish.

Anyway, I've been happily packing up more book orders so more wonderful customers will have their copies of The Whicharts early next week. It's the most fantastically uplifting feeling when orders come in. I just hope that a few more bookshops will stock it, some have been so helpful and keen and I treasure them.

Now I can re-read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day with a clear conscience. A number of people whose blogs I quietly follow are reading Persephone books this month. I plan to go in and buy In Bed with Grand Music and Doreen. Then again, when I actually do go in to Persephone's shop, admire the china, the spaniel (usually snoring) and the beautiful, beautiful books, I end up choosing something else entirely. The Far Cry was one of those books that I just bought on sight, even though it wasn't on my shortlist, and the story grips me on every reread. Ruth's such a competent teenager and it's a good treatment of the 'coming of age' novel in Anglo-India.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Books and quilts

I'm beginning to add theatre tickets to some of my book collection, just to ensure that the ephemera has a chance to move to another generation. One day a new reader will find the Ballet Shoes ballet ticket inside my copy. (And one day I will manage to find my own reprint with the original silver wraps). They might also find the V&A Quilts ticket inside Anne of the Island just where Mrs Lynde is compimented on her tulip pattern quilts by the Spofford Avenue millionaire.

It's made me wonder, other than mentions in Lucy Maud Montgomery, are there any other GO novels that do patchwork or sewing?

There are mentions in Gwendoline Courtney who is always good for nesting. I can't find it in any of my Dorita Fairlie Bruces and it seems the type of local craft she would have championed. There's a family quilt in A Traveller in Time, but not much more. Well, if there is, and I hope someone can tell me that there is, so that I can add to my collection.

After a long lead-in and mentions of books, I can say that the V&A Quilt Exhibition this weekend was wonderful. Just wandering along to that part of London on the bus enjoying the cherry blossom and the parks was a treat.

The quilt show at the V&A was interesting and very well set out, with the long history of making art from a craft that relies on 'make do and mend'. It was the final third of the exhibition that wasn't as smooth. They relied too much on the inclusion of headline-grabbing artists (Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin) and they didn't link to the contemporary quilter. The gap between folk art and modern craftsmanship just wasn't bridged. Modern quilting groups thrive in England and that wasn't mentioned. The war relief quilts, the Changi quilt, the Land Girl quilt all gave way to modern artists showing off and conceptualising the quilt. I think it was an opportunity missed not to include the work of the ordinary modern quilter. One who probably does use elements from American sampler quilts or Hawaiian leaves. Actually, if anyone is interested, PBS have made documentary series on quilts and they are fascinating.