Book Review: Our Spoons Came From Woolworths

This book was written by Barbara Comyns and first published
in 1950.    I bought it when we were in Glasgow on vacation.
If you remember,  (former post, The Books I Bought . . .)
I bought two editions of this same book.  Does the cover of a
book matter?  Well, look at these two covers and tell me
which one you’d select to read . . .

Our Spoons came 002

If you chose the one on the left, you would expect to read a cute
funny little memoir type from the 1950s.  If you chose the book
on the right, you would expect–huh? what WOULD you expect?

I read the one on the left with the cover illustration by Adam Hamcher.


Sophia is a silly young thing in the 1950s who marries Charles hastily.
(Marry in haste, repent at leisure).  She is a working girl, in some kind
of commercial art, and later has a myriad of jobs to pay the rent.  Charles
is an Artist with a capital A so he must stay home and paint.

They are married on a shoestring and wedding guests are few, so they
start off quite simply with a few gifts, but —-you guessed it, their spoons
came from Woolworths.

They move often, but usually to a flat in London with a shared bath down
the hall.  Sophia would like a large family, Charles has no interest in
children.  So! they promptly have a baby and name him after Botticelli–
(just as you would).

The “cute, funny little memoir” gets a little gutsy during Sophia’s
confinement in the public ward at the London hospital, but I guess
Comyns thought she needed to include it.

Little Sandro cries a lot and what with Sophia working daily, Charles
is left to mind the infant while he works at his canvases . . .  I wish I
could tell you that he sells a lot of his paintings, but I can’t.

Even I could tell that things probably won’t improve, but things do
happen to move the story along–that’s life!–and we are somehow
taken magically by the end to a storybook ending!

Hm-m.  I’d call the book quirky.

Hey!  Some of OUR “silverware” came from Woolworths–or Grants–
or Kresges . . . the ones we call the “star” pattern.  Pure 1960s.

our forks, knives and spoons came from the five and ten cent store ©booksandbuttons

our forks, knives and spoons came from the five and ten cent store ©booksandbuttons





These are the only two pieces left.  I
use them when I make scrambled eggs.

Share Button
This entry was posted in book review, books, London, memoir and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Book Review: Our Spoons Came From Woolworths

  1. Buttondeb says:

    Indeed! Re: Cover on the right: I would think that the care and feeding of those two fine looking canines would add up to quite a few pieces of cutlery, plus the lady’s fine red ensemble…Some art editor apparently didn’t think it through.
    Great review, and thanks for including the covers.
    And I haven’t thought of good ol’ Kresges in years. That silverware pattern looks very familiar!

  2. Booksilver says:

    The dime store! I remember the lady at the counter there once telling me not to drink up all my Coke or I wouldn’t be hungry for my lunch…. I was so embarrassed. But it was such a treat to get a Coke! and to eat Lunch Out!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Hmmm – I think the lack of proper silverware was the least of her problems.

    Anyway, what a good “find” — it’s cool to find not-so-famous used books.

  4. Stefanie says:

    I know someone else who has read this book and really like liked it. I must find myself a copy one of these days. Just the other day I found myself trying to explain what Woolworth’s was to a younger person who had never heard of it before. Wow did that make me feel old! I remember me and my sister playing hide and seek in the clothing racks near the sewing fabric area while my mom waited to get her fabric cut. She always threatened to leave us behind if we didn’t behave ourselves and it never seemed to me like such a bad thing to be left behind to grow up in Woolworths. 🙂

    • booksandbuttons says:

      Cute story! I remember threats like that from
      my mother, too! Her threats usually involved
      never bringing us with her again . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.