….and an explanation of why I’ve been quite elusive lately.
The Man of the House has been having certain medical tests lately, culminating with a procedure that would give us the clearest possible picture of what was going on. I took him to the Duchy Hospital in Truro, where he was whisked away by a pair of lovely nurses who told me that I could come back to fetch him in four hours. I didn’t want to drive all the way home and then all the way back again, and I didn’t want to be too far away, and so I drove down into Truro in the hope that I could distract myself by browsing in bookshops that I only visit a few times a year.
The Truro Heart Foundation Charity Shop has been a happy hunting ground for both of us in the past, and I did well there again.
I found two well cared for Oxford World’s Classics volumes, holding three stories by Anthony Trollope that I didn’t have on my shelves. I’ve read mixed reports about these works, but I’m very curious to read a story set overseas, to try to understand why such a recognised author published two of these stories anonymously, and to spend more time in Trollope’s Ireland.
There was more Trollope in the next shop I visited – the lovely Pydar Mews Books – and they were lovely paperback New English Library copies but I left them where they were. There were some of the Palliser books and some of the Barsetshire books, but there wasn’t a complete set of either, and so I left them for someone else to find.
I did pick up a recent copy of ‘Fly Past’ magazine for the Man of the House from the bargain bin.
Then I spotted a lovely little copy of ‘Old Goriot’ from a Penguin series I hadn’t come across before; the back cover told me that it was #17 in a new series of translations and though the titles of the other books in the series were all terrible familiar I was pleased to think that someone had thought to put the series together more that half a century ago.
I found a copy of ‘Time and the Hour’ too – a Howard Spring title that was missing from my collection. It’s a Fontana Monarch, and sadly lacking in the striking cover art that adorns many Fontana paperbacks. Maybe Fontana Monarchs were supposed to be more serious than standard Fontana paperbacks, but I really don’t know. I don’t know anything at all about this particular series.
My next stop was Truro Cathedral.
Then I went to the Oxfam Shop.
‘The Blind Man’s House’ was a late book by Hugh Walpole that I had never heard of. I’ve had mixed results with his work in the past, but it was such a lovely edition – published in the early years of WWII, before paper rationing began – and I see potential in the story.
“Julius Cromwell, blinded in the last war, brings his young wife Celia to their new home in an ancient house in the Glebshire village of Garth in Roselands. Julius’s blindness has opened to him a mysterious inner world, but the farther he goes into it the more deeply he is removed from those he loves ….”
It could go either way, and I may have to read a couple of earlier works first as there are characters who reappear.
I brought home a copy of ‘The Last Light of the Sun’ by Guy Gavriel Kay too, because I remembered that Claire speaks so very well of him.
My book shop tour finished at Waterstones. Once upon a time if I hadn’t been to Waterstones for months I would have spent a fortune, but things have changed. Some of that is me. I’m much more focused in my book shopping than I used to be. But I think the some of it was Waterstones – or maybe commercial reality and I was disappointed that there were very few books from interesting small presses, and that many of the themed selections were very mainstream.
I did find a copy of ‘The Lost Europeans’ by Emanuel Litvinoff, which Simon tweeted about very positively a few days ago, though none of the other books from the same publisher series were on the shelves. Not even ‘My Son, My Son’ by Howard Spring who used to live just a few miles down the road.
The copy of ‘The Bronte Cabinet’ by Deborah Lutz replaces a library copy that I really didn’t want to give back.
Most importantly of all though, it was in Waterstones, as I was considering what book he would like best, that a text message arrived from the Man of the House. It said that his test result had been as good as they could be, and that all that lay ahead was reviewing the medication for the condition we knew he had. Something that lots of people live with.
I have no words to tell you how relieved and how happy I was.
I bought the book I had in my hand – ‘Queen in Cornwall’ – and he was delighted with it. I hadn’t known that one of his friends still talks about working at the Winter Gardens when they played there.
It feels as if we have a new start in life, and maybe a new direction.
Reading – and writing about books – will be back on track very soon.
But real life will always come first.