I spent the weekend just gone enjoying some quiet time in Essex with my boyfriend and his family. We visited a pub or two, went on some meandering drives, watched all three Hobbit movies (new to me, loved them), read lots, talked about the future, and, mostly importantly of all, visited several bookshops. Unintentionally, of course [ahem].
On Saturday Mike suggested we go to Saffron Walden, a lovely old market town not far from his, for some brunch and a wander. I readily agreed, remembering that recently Daunt Books opened up a store there (ulterior motives and all that!). Saffron Walden is beautiful; it's full of little streets, higgledy piggledy houses, hidden gardens, and has the most wonderful market square with a library at its head. Hart's Books happened to be a slight disappointment, but thankfully we stumbled across an Oxfam Bookshop as we pottered around the side streets. There I found Rhoda Broughton's Cometh Up As A Flower.
I have never heard of Broughton before, but my interest was piqued by the author's dedication of the novel to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, whose work I have enjoyed. Cometh Up As A Flower sounds like just my cup of tea. The blurb calls it a 19th century tragic love story and suggests that it challenges gender stereotypes of the age. Perfect.
On Sunday we took a trip to Chelmsford because I needed to pop into M&S, like the old lady I am. Chelmsford also happens to have one of the best Oxfam Bookshops I've ever been in. It's possibly even better than the one in Bristol and that is saying something! I have yet to fully explore the entire shop as I've always been thoroughly preoccupied by the fantastic literature and crime sections. They have a bookshelf dedicated solely to vintage crime, which is arranged according to publisher [swoon]. Spines upon spines of green and white penguins - an absolute joy to behold.
As I seem to be having quite the vintage crime phase at the moment, I really let loose in the crime section. I resisted the numerous Christie's and instead picked up novels by authors I have vaguely heard of, but don't know their works at all. This led me to Edmund Crispin, Dashiell Hammett, Josephine Tey and 'Sapper'. I had hoped for a Sayers or a Simenon, but actually I'm rather excited to discover someone new.
I also couldn't resist grabbing this Huxley novel as Mike dragged me to the till. It's not one I've come across before, but apparently it's a satirical novel set in the immediate aftermath of WW1. Again: perfect.
Have you bought any new books recently?