The Books I Borrowed and Bought in London

Very early in my visit to London we went to two libraries–one a
university library and the other a town library.  At these I borrowed

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
Forty Years On   by Alan Bennett
Cathedral by Raymond Carver
Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker
Dear Papa by Anne Ylvisaker
Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody

I discovered when I got back to the flat that I’ve already read
both Cathedral and Box of Matches, so those didn’t count.

I had brought Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
with me to read for the fourth time, and I finished that.  Then
while I was in London I read the Agatha Christie, Alan Bennett,
Ylvisaker and half of Dying in the Wool.

The very first day I was there, we went to Waterstone’s Book Store, a
chain, and I bought The Wedding Group by Elizabeth Taylor.  I read
that right away to compare it with Mrs. Palfrey and I’m afraid I
have some criticism now of Ms. Taylor’s writing.  I was shocked,
shocked as I read along  in my cozy bedroom in the flat.  It just about
ruined the high regard I have of the Mrs. Palfrey book.  Oh, well.

(Now that I’m home I’m rereading A Wreath of Roses by Taylor to see
how it ranks with the other two.  More on Elizabeth Taylor in a later post.)

One day we went out shopping on Charing Cross Road to the bookstores.
We had watched the old video of “84 Charing Cross Road” with Anne
Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.  I never liked that movie as well as I
liked the book (have read it 2 or 3 times), but still, it was fun and gave
us some background to go to the bookstores in the area.

First we went to Foyle’s.  That’s a big grand store with four floors of books.
I went to the Language department and saw these four big shelves of
books of French fiction:

books in French at Foyle's Bookstore

books in French at Foyle’s Bookstore

And that’s only authors ending in A-G!  Then there were huge sections of Italian, Russian,
Thai, Arabic, Polish, you name it.  I’ll bet it’s the largest foreign language bookstore in
the world.  I bought two novellas by Proust en francais:

 Proust z

And a tiny little four by four inch edition of four stories by Carson McCullers
to read on the plane coming home.  Easy to carry, lovely to read. (And that
first story, Wunderkind, is a haunting little piece.)

Then we walked along some other shops on the streets, looking in windows, ducking
in to browse the shelves . . .
London 4 018 z

London 4 zLondon 4 021 zI bought a first UK edition of Peter Taylor’s short stories Happy Families Are
All Alike.  Love the cover graphics.

Peter Taylor  001 zYou already know that I bought King George and Queen Elizabeth.  Another
book I saw of interest–at Portobello–was an interesting copy of Dubliners by
James Joyce that was illustrated.  Have to check to see if my own copy is
illustrated . . .  OK, that’s all for now–back to A Wreath of Roses.

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4 Responses to The Books I Borrowed and Bought in London

  1. Alex says:

    I’ve never read any Elizabeth Taylor so I was really pleased when ‘Mrs Palfrey’ turned up on the
    list for one of my reading groups later in the year. Now you’ve got me wondering how I’m going to fare with it, so I shall be extremely interested in any forthcoming post on the subject.

    • I’m glad it’s showing up on book group lists. And I’ll be interested to know what you
      think of it after you’ve read it. The book was nominated for the Booker Award, but not
      selected, so I’m encouraged that I wasn’t the only one who liked it a lot. I would
      recommend no other reading by Elizabeth Taylor before you’ve read Mrs. Palfrey. Let
      that one be your first. After that, well, that’s another story.

  2. Mary Jo says:

    “Whooaa Nellie”, this plot thickens! Now I may even have to read Mrs. Palfrey. Really enjoying the trip posts – what a wonderful time you all had. Great pictures!

    • I want to be clear. I still keep Mrs. Palfrey at or near the top of my desert island list.
      But I have issues with the author now. Am still reading more of her work to form a firm
      opinion. Thanks about the London posts. Can’t beat a trip that includes books, buttons,
      shows and eating out!

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