Monday, 21 February 2011

In My Book Bag (1)

[In My Book Bag highlights library loans and book purchases (second-hand and new) that make their way into Rochester Reader HQ.]

This past week saw a trip to my local library and an outing to a couple of second-hand book stores.  The hauls are modest as I am trying to read through the books I have on my shelves although I am always tempted to bring back Viragos and other books that I know I probably won't get to read for a long while. 

First up are the second-hand books.  I found a Penguin edition of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark with a cover that I haven't seen before.  It has a photo of the beautiful and graceful Geraldine McEwan (a.k.a Lucia and Miss Marple) who played the titular role in a 1978 TV serial adaptation.  I've been wanting to read this for a long time and, quite frankly, given what a well-known book this is, I'm surprised that I haven't come to it sooner. 

I also picked up a new copy of Ellis Peters' A Morbid Taste for Bones as I remembered that it is the next title for the Cornflower Book Group.  It is the first novel of the Brother Cadfael mysteries.  I've only read one ages ago and it was half-way through the series but I enjoyed it.  I am also a fan of the Derek Jacobi adaptations so I think this may be an interesting read, especially as it's set in the beautiful Shropshire countryside during the middle ages.

Then there's a copy of The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot by Anne Hart, although I have a copy on the other side of the world!  This is a non-fiction book containing interesting nuggets of information about the famous sleuth.  It is now a little out-of-date in terms of  its list of screen adaptations but it is an excellent 'biography' of the detective and a great reference book for the enthusiast.  I thought I'd like to dip in and out of it during my Agatha Christie Challenge.

Next up are the three library books...  I picked up a copy of Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers whilst I await my new copy to arrive in the post... just in case I get too itchy and simply have to immerse myself in Lord Peter Wimsey's world.  This is book two in the series and part of my As My Whimsy Takes Me Challenge.

I also brought home Somerset Maugham's Cakes and Ale simply because I liked the title and I recall reading and enjoying his short stories in school.  It's an old Penguin edition and it appears to be regarded as Somerset Maugham's best novel which is "a delicious satire of London literary society between the Wars".  I really like the Vintage cover for this book (pictured above) - simple and elegant.

And finally, I was happy to spot a pretty Dover Thrift Edition of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.  I've been wanting to read Wharton for months ever since listening to an engaging BBC radio play of The Custom of the Country.  This book will fit nicely into my Classic Challenge.  I love the charming cover depicting various flowers and birds.  It reminds me of the Persephone endpapers and I thought that it might be taken from a fabric but the back cover informs me that it was designed by Teresa Delgado.  Sadly I couldn't find any information on this illustrator but I am quite looking forward to reading this book. 


Aarti said...

Hi there! I just posted my review of Clouds of Witness today, and I admit I was not a huge fan of the book. I know that Wimsey has a huge following, but I just do NOT like the man...

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

OOh I just recently read The Prime of Miss JB. Interested to read your thoughts on it. I liked it but did keep wondering why there was the hype to it and then it was suggested that the film was the reason.

Jill said...

It's years since I read The Age of Innocence. I'm a big fan of Edith Wharton and her book, Ethan Frome, is one of my all time favourites.
I'm loving the cover of Cakes and Ales - I wonder who the artist is.

Nymeth said...

I actually read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie only last week! I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. I now know what everyone means about Muriel Spark's dark sense of humour.

Annie said...

One of my book groups read 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' a couple of years ago and we were all as amazed as you that we'd none of us read it before. We enjoyed it very much and it sparked off a lot of discussion. That same group read Wharton's 'The House of Mirth' last year and I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed that. I ought to read more Wharton, so I'll be interested to hear what you think of 'The Age of Innocence'.

Darlene said...

I have a magnetic frame on my locker at work. Each week I display a different Penguin postcard and a few weeks ago it was Cakes and the title! Although, I prefer cakes and tea.

bookssnob said...

I really want to give Somerset Maugham a go so I look forward to your review of Cakes and Ale! I hope you enjot the Wharton - I LOVED The Age of Innocence.

Cristina (Rochester Reader) said...

Aarti: Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting! I'm sorry you do not like Lord Peter but I understand that his character does change somewhat over the course of the books. I found him quite witty and insightful. He plays the dim fop to great effect, when required, and it fools those around him into underestimating him. If you'd like to give it another go, please feel free to join the As My Whimsy Takes Me Challenge.

Joan: Was that the film with Maggie Smith in the title role? I think that got a lot of kudos. I hope to watch both adaptations (if I can get hold of them) after reading the book. I'm glad you liked it :-)

Jill: Another recommendation for Wharton - great! I just checked online and I cannot find details of the artist... I'll have to keep a lookout for a copy in bookstores.

Nymeth: I'm so glad you liked it... I'm looking forward to it. I've read one Spark before (Loitering with Intent) so I understand about the dark humour. I had mixed feelings about that book but it was clever.

Annie: Thanks for the recommendations. It sounds as though I have a few treats in
store :-)

Darlene: Oh what a wonderful idea! That must cheer things up :-)

Booksnob: You are one of the bloggers who convinced me to try Wharton so I am certainly looking forward to this one and hopefully reading more.

bookmarksandteacups said...

I love that cover of Cakes and Ale, and I'm looking forward to your review when you get around to reading it.

I found a copy of Whose Body? in a used bookstore on the weekend - getting ready to start on your As My Whimsy Takes Me challenge :)

Cristina (Rochester Reader) said...

bookmarksandteacups: Excellent! I'm really excited about this challenge and I look forward to reading your review about 'Whose Body?' (which I really enjoyed) :-)