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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Library Loot

Off on holiday at the end of this week with plenty of books to hand!

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Library Loo

What did you pick up this week?

Mount House and Garden, Alderley, Gloucestershire, England - Marianne North

Mount House and Garden, Alderley, Gloucestershire, England – Marianne North

Every so often, I wonder what it would be like to leave the city behind and go live in a country village.  To a place where you could thrown open French doors onto a beautiful garden, where you can’t hear construction noise from dawn until dusk, where cars aren’t clogging the streets, and, ideally, where entry level housing costs are less than the $2.5 million it would take for me to buy in my neighbourhood (a pleasant but simple 1940s bungalow down the street from me has just been listed for $3.7 million, in addition to the tear-down around the corner going for $5.5 million, so I am feeling even more fed up with Vancouver than usual).

But then I remember that all my fantasies about country homes come from books set in England or my travels in Europe, where there really are charming small towns where you can live in easy proximity to civilization, and not in Western Canada, where, with the possible exception of some very expensive island communities, village life is non-existent.

So, as usual, I turn to books to sate my desire for country life.  Especially the lovely, everything is cosy and wonderful type of village life that I expect is particular to fiction (as opposed to the everything is stifling and all my neighbours as nasty gossips who know all my business type of village life, that I suspect is more realistic – see Leadon Hill by Richmal Crompton).

Now, my reading is never short on the sort of books where people buy/inherit lovely country homes but this summer seems to be even more overwhelmed by them than usual.

1947433_120304105728_odThe weakest of my recent sampling – and the only one where the heroine actually purchases a house with her own money – was The House That is Our Own by O. Douglas.  After helping her friend Kitty, a charming middle-aged widow, find a flat in London, twenty-nine year old Isobel decides she needs a change of setting.  On Kitty’s recommendation, she goes to stay in the Scottish Borders and falls in love with a house there, put up for sale by its young owner who has recently moved to Canada.  Isobel throws all caution to the wind and purchases it.  My financially responsible self shuddered whenever Isobel blithely commented that she didn’t really have the money to keep the house going in the long run but I read on regardless.  It is classic O. Douglas, with lots of lovely, sensible tea-drinking, Shakespeare loving characters of Scottish extraction being lovely together en masse, but I found it numbingly dull.  The final act, with a journey to Canada and the inevitable romantic conclusion, was a little more fun but overall not a keeper.

The Scent of WaterI had been a little hesitant picking up The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge because of its religious overtones but was delighted to discover a beautifully-written story with interesting, developed characters.  When fifty-year old Mary Lindsay inherits a country house from a distant relative, she decides to embrace her inheritance recklessly.  She retires and sets out, after a lifetime of town living, to enjoy country life.  And along with rural quiet and rich new friendships, she finds herself reflecting on the relationships she has had, learning to love even more deeply those who have now passed out of her life.  A really lovely book.

The LarkThe best by far, as will come as no surprise to those who have read Simon and Harriet’s reviews of it, was The Lark by E. Nesbit.  When Jane and Lucie are mysteriously withdrawn from school and directed to a small country cottage by their guardian, they imagine all sorts of wonderful possibilities.  Instead, they learn their guardian has made unwise investments with their inheritances and regretfully fled the country, but not before doing his best to see that they are as well set up as possible.  Between them, they are left with a charming country cottage and an annual income of £500.  Jane is determined this is to be an exciting new chapter in their lives, the start of a new adventure – a lark, in fact.  Lucie, a delightfully skeptical and level-headed foil for Jane, is not so certain but she is young and hopeful and soon just as excited as Jane about possible ways to improve their lot in life.

First, they settle on a flower stall, before moving on to running a boarding house – all out of a large house located near their cottage.  They charm the owner, an eccentric world traveller, into giving his consent to their activities, but cannot shake his nephew John, who hangs round being, in Jane’s eyes at least, irritating despite his usefulness.  Flawless businesswomen they are not but the results are perfection.  This was written in 1922, two years before Nesbit’s death, and it the sort of book that screams out for a companion volume – one that, sadly, never came.

All in all, a well-chosen trio to meet my desire for stories of country living.

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I have been struck with a bad case of bookish indecision.  I was reading like a whirlwind but suddenly, over the last week or two, I find it impossible to match my reading to my mood.  I’ve started and abandoned a dozen books (generally after reading them for far too long) in my quest for just the right thing.  I have found a few good fits – anything Patrick Leigh Fermor-related seems to suit me perfectly just now – but mostly I’m stumbling around in the dark.  I’ve picked up a suitably broad array of books this week on the assumption that there must be something here for every mood.

Library Loot 2

All Strangers Are Kin by Zora O’Neill – I love books about learning a foreign language.  And – for once! – rather than Italian or French or Greek or Latin, the language at the heart of this memoir is Arabic.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – there have been some medical scares among friends and family lately – some happily resolved, some unlikely to be – so Kalanithi’s memoir of his short life after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer seems like an appropriate choice.  It’s been effusively reviewed by everyone and every publication I’ve come across and I except there will be lots of tears.

The Lark Shall Sing by Elizabeth Cadell – my first three Cadells were all fun and I’ve tasked the library’s inter-library loan system with tracking down many more for me.  This is the first of a trio about the Waynes of Woodmount.  If you’re interested, all three books are now available as e-books.

Library Loot 1

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec – in her early 30s, Klinec went to Iran hoping to learn more about Persian cooking.  Instead, she fell in love with a young Iranian and discovered the complexities of cross-cultural romantic relationships in such a rigid society, where family traditions and expectations weigh heavily on young couples.

Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane – newest Chicklit novel from McFarlane.

Palladian Days by Sally Gable with Carl I. Gable – summer (and autumn and winter and spring…if you’re me, that is) is always the right time for memoirs about buying and restoring homes in foreign countries.  In this case, it’s a historically-important Palladian villa – not exactly a crumble farmhouse – so the level of fantasy involved for me will be greater than ever.  I can handle it.

What did you pick up this week?

P1110001

I popped over to Victoria this weekend for a mini summer holiday.  It only lasted from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon but it was a wonderful break and incorporated all the things I love about going to Victoria: stunning island scenery from the ferry, amazing floral displays at Butchart Gardens, excellent food in Victoria, and, of course, fabulous book shopping.

Russell Books, one of my all-time favourite bookshops, is located in central Victoria and I spent a happy couple of hours there on Saturday afternoon, sifting through my favourite sections.  Every fifteen minutes or so you would hear another delighted patron exclaiming over some find or the sheer variety of books on offer.  Deservedly so.  My hard work was rewarded and I can home with a respectable haul:

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Window on My Heart by Olave, Lady Baden-Powell – how to resist something this random?  The autobiography of the wife of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, who was herself very heavily involved in the Scouting and Guiding movements.

A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor – PLF’s travel memoir about his time spent in monasteries.

P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters edited by Sophie Ratcliffe – There were shelves and shelves and shelves full of Wodehouse but I chose to go with a collection of Plum’s letters.

Nairn in Darkness and Light by David Thomson – a memoir about growing up in Scotland in the 1920s.

An Italian Odyssey by Julie A. Burk and Neville J. Tencer – I am fascinated by the Via Francigena but there are so few books about it.  This memoir about walking the Italian portion of the route is one of the few out there (alongside Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim, which I picked up earlier this year).

Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay – slowly building up my collection of GGK, having read them all first from the library (as usual).

The Pebbled Shore by Elizabeth Longford – I learned about this when reading My History by her daughter, Antonia Forest.  Longford sounds absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to learn more about her life.

The Smell of Summer Grass and The Gentry by Adam Nicolson – both excellent books that I’ve been meaning to add to my library since I first read them. 

A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry – I can now safely return the library copy that I keep checking out.

A very good day’s work, as far as I’m concerned!  And also just a nice summer break in a lovely city.

Sunset Outer Harbour

credit unknown

credit unknown

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I’m feeling poorly right now, which has made it difficult to focus on reading for the past few days (or anything, for that matter).  Hopefully, I should be through this bout in the next day or two and able to concentrate on the excellent books I’ve picked up recently from the library:

Library Loot 2

Shanghai Grand by Taras Grescoe

The Only Street in Paris by Elaine Sciolino

Frederick the Great by Tim Blanning

In Europe’s Shadow by Robert D. Kaplan

Library Loot 1

So much Elizabeth Cadell!  All inter-library loans.  I’ve never read anything by her so we’ll see how these go.  I only have the GoodReads summaries to go on but from those alone they look like delightful light reading – no wonder so many D.E. Stevenson fans have recommended Cadell to me.

The Friendly Air

The Marrying Kind

Round Dozen

What did you pick up this week?

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