An A – Z of those I own

Part 1: A to C

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The urge to blog is definitely on the rise – as is the urge to play with lists and books.  A rifling through the shelves, another list, another couple of hours idled away.  But idled with much enjoyment.

Margaret at Books Please has been writing a series of posts: her A – Z of TBRs.  She hopes it will inspire her to read as many as possible of the books she has awaiting their turn on her shelves.  I’m wondering if it might work for me too.  I make no promises about when the books on my lists might be read but I am enjoying filling up the alphabet with books I own that are languishing unread on the shelves.  I am enjoying it so much that I’ve made a second list – of books that have yet to make it onto the shelves but I would really like to read.  The plan is to hopefully post through the alphabet, alternating each list.  No challenges involved here: I have quite enough of those, all of which are moving much too slowly.  Of course, some titles on these new lists might help some of those on the stalled challenges…

A is for Angel by Elizabeth Taylor

WP_20171005_001I’ve read a lot about this author – including some great reviews from dedicated book bloggers.  But until today I’d yet to read a word that has been actually written by her.  The majority (if not all) of her works have been republished as Virago Modern Classics, a series that I like to collect.  I have several of hers under this banner, including this one – her seventh and most widely-known novel.  (Which I have in the original green.  I’ve never really forgiven Virago for moving away from those elegant green spines and the beautiful paintings on the covers.)  A critically acclaimed yet underrated author, in 1984 Angel was selected by the Book Marketing Council as one of the “Best Novels of Our Time”.  So I have absolutely no excuse for not reading it.  Odd, isn’t it, how books just sit there for year after year until eventually they simply become a part of the furniture.

Hermione’s tortoiseshell cat was lying on its cushion by the fire, and Angel now put her coffee-cup on the tray, filled the saucer with cream and took it across to the cat, which blinked in surprise before she began to drink.

Hermione stopped playing.  “I am afraid she will be sick if she has that,” she said in a clear, high voice of vexation.  “She has been fed already.  In the kitchen.”

“Oh, it will do him good,” said Angel.  “I love cats.”

Hermione dropped her hands in her lap and began to turn the rings on her fingers: a danger-sign, Theo knew.  “Do play some more,” he coaxed her.  Angel, kneeling by the cat, said: “He loves it, you see.  He has nearly finished it.”

“She,” said Hermione, distantly.

“Just one more little thing,” urged Theo.  “Some Scarlatti.”

“No,” said Hermione.  She closed the music-book and stood up.  “If Miss Deverell will excuse me for a moment, I must just go and feed my canaries.”

“I don’t care for birds,” Angel said.

Just as well, thought Hermione, for there wasn’t a canary in the house.  

(page 62)

 

B is for Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

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Is this a re-read?  I honestly don’t know.  I feel that I must have read it as a child; I read through a great many horsey books despite being terrified of the beasts.  Yet I don’t specifically recall reading this one.  I do remember the tv series – the theme tune is now on a loop in my head – but of course that was a somewhat sanitised version of the book.  Possibly the only connection between the two is that book and tv show each featured a black horse.  The book is on my classics club list so I picked up this Puffin Classics copy in a charity shop late last year.  I’m looking forward to reading this – and getting to cross it off two lists!

Day by day, hole by hole, our bearing reins were shortened, and instead of looking forward with pleasure to having my harness put on as I used to do, I began to dread it.  Ginger too seemed restless, though she said very little.  At last I thought the worst was over; for several days there was no more shortening, and I determined to make the best of it and do my duty, though it was a constant harass instead of a pleasure; but the worst was not come. 

(page 90)

C is for A Cat in the Window by Derek Tangye

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The second in the series by the former journalist who left the rat race with his wife Jeannie in the early fifties, and created a new life in the far west of Cornwall.  I decided I’d like to own first editions of this series; they seemed very reasonably priced and easily available.  But I forgot about editions and impressions.  This one is a sixth impression of the first edition, printed some 12 years after the initial print run so not a first edition at all.  Not that it matters really.  As the title suggests, it is a book devoted to the Tangyes’ cat, Monty, who travelled with them to their new lives.  I shall savour everything about this book.

Monty’s transition into a country cat was a gradual affair. An urban gentleman does not become a country gentleman simply by changing his clothes.  He must learn to adopt a new code of manners and a new approach to the outdoors; to be less suave and to show more bluster, to accept the countryside as a jungle which has to be mastered by skill and experience.  Monty, as an urban cat, therefore had a lot to learn. 

(page 63)

 

 

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My enthusiasm is running high now, for all three books. All three are relatively short too, which will be a welcome change as I seem to have been on a run of doorstoppers for some while.  The quotes were selected by opening pages at random and each has whet my appetite.  And how fortuitous that cats appeared twice.

Jackson has assisted in showing off the letter ‘C’ to its best advantage.  He has grown a tad since his introductory photo in August.  And he’s acquired a friend.

So in the interest of fairness – and especially as the book clearly revolves around cats – here is Jemima posing with book ‘A’.

I feel a feline-related post coming on …

 

27 thoughts on “An A – Z of those I own”

  1. Years ago I was very keen on Tangye’s books and read all I could find – A Cat in the Window could have been one of them, but I just can’t be certain. I’m sure though that it’ll be good.

    Jemima is such a cute cat and what lovely colouring she has!

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    1. She is unusual isn’t she, Margaret. A grey and peach tortoiseshell! I’ve just begun A Cat in the Window. It’s charming and perfect for this rainy day with two small cats around!

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  2. Jemima and Jackson are sweet enough to have their own feature, I think. 🙂

    I think I read Black Beauty as a child, but, like you, am not quite sure. I’d have to read it to find out. Too bad you don’t have a pet horse (or even a pony) to pose with “Black Beauty”!

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    1. I’m sure they will get their own feature, Naomi; I won’t be able to resist 😉 I have been half-seriously thinking about adopting a donkey. That would have helped with the animal models!

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  3. How do you get the cats to pose with books? My Zoe won’t hear of it… so much for the intellectual French – humph! I rather like the sound of the Tangye – it sounds like a nice change of pace, close observation, and all sorts of things I love.

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    1. It took a lot of attempts, and settling for ‘good enough’ rather than hoping for a little more. And they’re still babies so perhaps more amenable to being posed (though very much more active). More a case of putting the book by the cat than the cat by the book! I’ve just started the Tangye. It’s a very short, simple and charming read and captures the typical besotted cat owner perfectly. Ideal for a rainy day when a gentle, undemanding read is required 🙂

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  4. I’ve read all of Tangye’s books, but although I really enjoyed them I ended up giving them away, partly because I realised he wasn’t really a very nice person, mind you so many writers aren’t . I’ve read most of Elizabeth Taylor’s books, I think you’re in for a treat.

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    1. I’m looking forward to finally getting acquainted with Elizabeth Taylor, Katrina. I’m intrigued about Tangye – I’ve not come across anything untoward about him yet.

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    1. I started collecting them when they were first published, Elizabeth, but had a long period when I wasn’t really reading or collecting much at all. They began the movement over here to resurrect female authors who were perhaps not getting the recognition they deserved. Now there are several publishing houses doing the same, and Virago’s Modern Classic series runs into to 700s! So I have no hopes of ever getting close to finishing!

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  5. I’m looking forward to all your book posts. Tangye and Sewell were childhood favourites and I wonder how they would hold up now. I’ll have to see! And somehow I’ve missed out on Elizabeth Taylor. Must rectify. It’s so good to see you back posting more regularly.

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  6. Love the animal theme to your post! I read Angel a few years ago and loved it… Try Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by the same author too, if you get the opportunity. It’s marvellous.

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    1. The animal theme was purely coincidental. (Though it’s continued into the next book post that’s in draft. Again, a coincidence. Weird!) I’m thoroughly enjoying Angel and I have Mrs Palfrey too. Good to hear your glowing endorsement of that one, Emma!

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