Books! Ba-ba-loo-ba-la, BOOKS!

In case you guys were wondering about my disappearing act—it’s been a busy past month at our household, what with cousins coming over from half-way across the world from Singapore, and then our own two week trip to London which was VERY productive because. . .


Behold all the books I brought back with me:

Persephone Books

Because, of course, I had to visit Persephone Books.


And also the venerable Hatchard’s!



I bought the one at the top of this pile as a joke for husband. It’s called Harris’s List Of Covent Garden Ladies, and is ahem, as you can imagine, a list of the covent garden ladies in whose company the gents could find some, ahem, pleasure. Here’s my current favorite lady:

Miss Godf-y, No. 22, Upper Newman-street

If parts can conquer great and small,
Sure—and Godf-y—must needs do all.

This lady is a kind of boatswain in her way, and when she speaks, every word is uttered with a thundering and vociferous tone. She is a fine lively little girl, about 22, very fond of dancing, has dark eyes, and hair, well shaped, and an exceeding good bed-fellow, will take brandy with any one, or drink and swear, and though but little, will fight a good battle. We apprehend this lady would be an extraordinary companion for an officer in the army, as she might save him the trouble of giving the word of command.

She resides in the first floor.

I know, I know. I should be horrified. And outraged. But right now, I’m only capable of gurgles of laughter!

I was also very pleased to find an omnibus of R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days, a collection of stories set in the small village of Malgudi, some of which I remember reading and enjoying hugely as a kid!

And alas, my library does not carry The Ruby In The Smoke, so I knew I was going to buy that at some point.

Dog Ears is a children’s book that I searched for high and low in the U.S. but couldn’t find! The wonderful nobodyjones characterized it as Blytonian so of course I had to try it out! Also, can I just say how RELIEVED I was to find Enid Blytons stacked up and down all over London’s bookstores? Their absolute absence in the U.S. had me start questioning if they were a figment of my imagination!

Then there’s Elizabeth Goudge whom I remembered being a children’s author though I have no recollection which book of hers I read. This one though, The Dean’s Watch, seems like a grown-up book with an interesting enough story. Oh, and it was gifted to someone in 1960!

Reader, I have discovered the pleasure of second-hand bookstores! And London simply BRIMS with them. The whole of Charing Cross Street is lined with one second hand bookshop after the next. It has made me want to seek out some here in my own city too!

Rose Macaulay, and Angela Thirkell, I recall wanting to try out, but never succeeding in finding any of their work.

Homestead is the only one amongst this lot that I have absolutely no idea about except that it has a blurb, and a setting (Switzerland) that sounded intriguing.


And then there’s Middlemarch. I have been meaning to get around to reading it and I just could not resist this gorgeous edition.

Have you guys read any of these books? I’d love to know what you thought!

17 thoughts on “Books! Ba-ba-loo-ba-la, BOOKS!

  1. Oooh, how lovely! I happened upon The Making of a Marchioness at the library and am reading it right now. It’s really interesting so far. Although someone warned me that the portrayal of an Indian character made her put the book down (this doesn’t surprise me, since I just finished teaching The Secret Garden).

    I am snapping up those Virago re-releases of Angela Thirkell whenever I find them in a bookstore. I have read two and loved them. Just the right blend of cozy and sly for a certain reading mood. I liked that Philip Pullman series too.

    And then Middlemarch. . . . That book means so much to me.

    Your picture of those lovely Persephone editions makes me wonder if my library has more of them!


    • Ooh, am I glad you mentioned that bit about the off-putting Indian character! Knowing about it beforehand will temper my surprise/dislike hopefully when I DO come across it, especially as I don’t remember any of the details about The Secret Garden!

      And I know exactly what you mean about Angella Thirkell. I’m pre-disposed to like her (even though I haven’t read anything by her yet!) and so as soon as I saw this slim collection of short stories, I knew I had to grab it!

      And 🙂 about Middlemarch. It was Zadie Smith’s essay on Middlemarch in Changing My Mind that finally convinced me that I had to read it. Funnily enough, I read Eliot’s other books in my teenage years but this one escaped my notice!

      And oh, I do hope you find some of the Persephone Books at your library. Mine hasn’t had a very good track record with them!

      P.S. And oh, that Phillip Pullman series hits all my sweet spots! It’s going to be a perfect read for a dark and rainy day!


  2. I remember reading The Making of a Marchioness years ago – and it, as well as its sequel always remained on my favourites shelf. I know it is often referred to as a bit twee and embarrassingly gothic – but I read it about the same time as Little Women and everything by L M Montgomery and I LOVED it.And your editions look so gorgeous!
    When I lived in the UK (prob about 10yrs ago now) I was only about half hours’ drive from London – I used to love going up there and trawling through the bookstores especially – there was such diversity – I would always come back with a huge haul and an empty wallet….lol

    Lovely to have you back!


    • Oh, it’s so good to be back! 🙂

      I didn’t know that The Making Of A Marchioness had a sequel! If I like the book, and I suspect I might, I’m going to tear my hair out trying to obtain it! Oh well. 😛

      I also did not know that it is gothic! That puts me slightly on my guard (given my unsatisfactory experience with Mary Stewart!) but I guess I’ll have to read to find out whether this gothic is to my taste or not. . . I’m hoping it’s going to be!

      And oh, I know exactly what you mean about emptying your pockets! My husband was most curious to know how I expected to lug all of the books back with me. 😀

      And you’re right on mark about the diversity too. I was surprised to find the wide range, and the depth of authors available everywhere!

      P.S. The Persephone editions are indeed gorgeous, aren’t they? With each book, I also got to choose these lovely bookmarks, which are equally gorgeous!


      • you know – I actually went back and dug it back out last night and started reading it again – and I don’t think its really gothic at all…The Making of a Marchioness is more more fairytale-ish in the way Emily Fox-Seton actually becomes a marchioness (I don’t think that’s a spoiler…given the title!) Then the sequel The Methods of Lady Walderhurst, is a lovely ‘what happens after the happily-ever-after’ and that has this kind of victorian sensationalism bit to it which I found delightful.
        I shall be interested to know what you think when you read it!


  3. I have HEARD of those Covent Garden ladies’ lists, but I didn’t know somebody had put one back in print! How cool, how cool! And what a weird thing for London publishes to think of to do back in ye olden days.

    Did you go to Henry Pordes? It is my most favorite of the Charing Cross Road bookshops. I got mooooost of my biographies of Oscar Wilde at that shop for five quid a pop — they’ve had some really obscure ones!


    • Hahaha! I should’ve guessed that YOU of all people would have known about those Covent Garden ladies! 😀 And yes, weird indeed, but what an artifact for posterity!

      And oh yes! I did visit Henry Pordes! Though my loot consisted of fiction! (The R.K. Narayan, Homestead, and Rose Macaulay are from there!)


  4. Well, apart from Blyton and Pullman I regret to say to many of these authors I have yet to sample in my belated rediscovery of the joys of fiction.

    I go up to London occasionally but have missed out on the Charing Cross book experience, mostly haunting Oxfam Books and charity shops in the vicinity of Marylebone. And Persephone Books! I’m salivating already …

    Middlemarch is a volume I’ve promised myself for 2016 al this year. How can anyone not appreciate the lure of books?


    • Belated rediscovery of the joys of fiction has me intrigued! I’d love to know the story behind that! 🙂

      And you should certainly try Charing Cross Road once–it’s worth a dekko. I saw an intriguing looking bookstore, called Daunt Books, which I THINK was in the Marylebone region–but I wasn’t able to venture inside.

      And oh, I love that you’ve earmarked some time out for Middlemarch for next year. . . that’s giving me ideas for my own reading! (Wouldn’t it be fun to do a read-along of Middlemarch with other readers?)


      • For the forty-odd years I was a schoolteacher I rarely read general fiction, just some genre-stuff (SFF mostly) and — while editing an Arthurian journal — non-fiction (archaeology, history, medieval literature) for review. Since retiring I’ve tried to cast my net wider as well as revisiting some of the classics I did when at school myself. Hence ‘belated rediscovery’ — and I should add ‘enjoyment’!

        Daunts is in Marylebone High Street, pretty (if pricey) with a good children’s section and a wonderful galleried annexe full of secondhand topographical books and travel guides. A little further down is the Oxfam bookshop I mentioned before.

        Yes, Middlemarch is a novel I’d like to start in the New Year, January or February. A readalong? I’d certainly be interested!


        • Ahh! How awesome that you bloomed as a reader in your own good time! I quite love that. 🙂

          And pretty bookshops are eye-candy so I’ll keep this one in mind for whenever we next visit!

          And Oh!! I don’t know anything about read-alongs, have never done one, but if you’re interested, we could cobble something together and start in February!


  5. Pingback: The Making of a Marchioness (or is there a heroine dumber than Emily Fox-Seton?) | Blue Castle Considerations

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