If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley - I've been on a bit of a non-fiction binge lately. There is enough toilet talk in this historical read to keep a gaggle of eight year-old boys absolutely riveted...and me. Straight talk about the hygiene habits and other behaviours of those who came before us has been keeping me up at night and making me awfully thankful for modern day plumbing, soap, deodorant and dentistry. Who knew there was a difference in the way citizens regarded someone crawling with lice as opposed to someone full of fleas? I will fill you in on all the details once I have finished the book.
Between the Acts & The Years by Virginia Woolf - Reading this post by Book Snob prompted a mental note to pick up a copy if I happened to stumble across one. Good old Wordsworth Classics for publishing a lovely copy of not one but two stories together for an excellent price. I have stood outside of Virginia's townhouse in Gordon Square, seen her bust in Tavistock Square, read Mrs Woolf & the Servants by Alison Light and skimmed some biographies but I have yet to read anything by Virginia herself. Bit silly isn't it?
Beautiful for Ever by Helen Rappaport - Apparently 'Madame Rachel' (who was actually Sarah Levison from Whitechapel) lived in Victorian London having emerged from a state of poverty and all that that entails to become a highly sought after beautician in Mayfair. She is also labelled on the front cover as a con-artist and blackmailer, two court trials provided enough evidence I suppose. Madame Rachel and her exploits are referred to in Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon and disguised as Lydia Gwilt in Wilkie Collins's Armadale so a bit of reference homework will pay off during future reads I am sure. Thanks to Elaine from Random Jottings for tempting me with this post.
The Penguin Book of British Comic Stories edited by Patricia Craig - Some of these compilations are good and some are excellent, this one is tops. The contents page of works by authors such as Richmal Crompton, P. G. Wodehouse, E. M. Delafield, Kingsley Amis, Elizabeth Bowen, Katherine Mansfield had my smile growing by leaps and bounds. Talk about being in the right place at the right time as it was being discarded from the library stacks and has found a new home at my house.
Complete Short Stories by Elizabeth Taylor - It makes me laugh to think of how many times I used to turn my nose up at short stories. Now I love them! Some time last year I emailed Virago to ask about Taylor's short stories as they were publishing everything else in celebration of her centenary. A lovely reply came letting me know that yes, a collection was definitely in the works and would be worth waiting for. My preorder receipt had been hanging around in my email's 'In Box' for months and months so it was a bit like welcoming a baby when a massive parcel finally appeared in my mailbox. And oh what a pretty cover.
During a trip to Toronto last Sunday I discovered a new second-hand shop with shelves chock full of books reaching at least 12 feet high and a sliding ladder. The prices were a bit steep so I just had fun looking and left empty-handed, it's not like I'll be short of things to read and there is always a next time.