It's been a real treat having a long bank holiday weekend, working in retail it doesn't often work out that way for me but this time it did (and I needed it, I was asleep by 8.30 on Friday night - once upon a time that was to early to consider going out, never mind go to bed). Even better it's been sunny and I've had garden access, so in the best British tradition am mildly sunburnt on the 4 square inches of flesh I neglected to cover, and as a finale a good look round in bargain bookshop 'The Works'.
Back in the 1990's before amazon was such a big thing there were lots of discount bookshops around on the high street, I worked for a couple of them and it was quite exciting - the books we got were over runs, returns, and slightly damaged stock (at times there may have been stuff that fell off the back of a lorry too, and possibly the occasional raid by the police in search of some of the trades more colourful characters), there were some great books to be had though. These days most of those shops have gone but here in the UK, but we still have 'The Works' and Leicester's branch isn't at all bad. It's a shop I tend to overlook and then am always really surprised when I find loads of really good things in there, often books I paid full rice for but weeks before. What's great about it is finding desirable books that had otherwise slipped under my radar.
Today's haul is Adam Nicolson's 'Gentry', it looked vaguely appealing when I saw it in hardback, but was so clearly a book that would sit gathering dust and mocking me over all the better uses for the money that I could have found. At £2.99 I could happily forgo an overpriced coffee and assume that I WILL dip in and out of this at some point. It's the story of 12 upper class families from the middle ages to the present day and hopefully has a few eccentrics in it as well as a particular view of British history.
I totally missed Virago's reissue of Margaret Llewelyn Davies 'No One But A Woman Knows' last summer. Subtitled Stories of Motherhood Before The War it's a collection of letters from working class women compiled by the Women's Co-Operative Guild in 1915. It seems it was also one of the first books that Virago ever published. I find this kind of social history fascinating and if it's not too harrowing I'll get it's companion volume Life As We Have Known It: The Voices of Working-Class Women which is a similar account of working women first published in 1931. Apparently Virginia Woolf was a fan which is quite the endorsement.
My final purchase is one I'm likely to get ribbed about. I have a Lovejoy habit. It was Sunday night prime time viewing when I was in my teens, I liked it then, I love it now (it's repeated at odd times and in odd places on freeview) everybody laughs at me for watching it but I don't care. I've thought about tracking down one of the books the series was based in for years but never actually did, and now I've found one cheap, shiny, and new (all good right?). It's published by the intriguing Constable & Robinson another thing that had passed under the radar for me despite them having been around since 1795. However every time I go in The Works I find books I love bought back into print by them (specifically by Alice Thomas Ellis, and Sarah Caudwell) so I'm doubly intrigued by this Lovejoy title.