The online bookshop is preparing for its summer sale. This year we have a good collection of history and military titles with a sprinkling of interesting biographies (not of under-20 boy banders, you will be pleased to note, but of those whose feet have actually made an imprint on history) and a little bit of true crime to spice things up.
If you enjoyed Testament of Youth at the pictures earlier in the year then we can offer One Voice, a collection of Vera Brittain’s pacifist writings, for a mere £3.99. Or if you preferred The Imitation Game, then The Girl From Station X is a great read. It is based on the wartime diaries of the author’s mother, a mother from whom she had become increasingly estranged as alcohol and Alzheimers took their toll. Reading the diaries Elisa Segrave learns more about the vibrant and alive young woman her mother was, leaving her life of privilege to work at Bletchley Park and later at Bomber Command. It is a moving story about the gulfs and secrets within families and, even better, it’s now only £3.99. If you like this and want to know more then you could look at Michael Smith’s book The Debs of Bletchley Park which looks at the lives of the women at Bletchley.
For the social historian Kate Hubbard’s Serving Victoria uses diaries and letters to explore the lives of six people who were in service in the royal household. What is interesting about this book is not just the insight into the life of the servants but the warts and all view they offer in unguarded moments on the life of one of England’s most famous women. Their comments provide a picture of Victoria far removed from the conventionally accepted one. AN Wilson’s comprehensive biography of Victoria has just come out in paperback – it’s not in the sale but if you are interested in the life of Victoria it is a great read.
If you know someone about to have a baby then we have a very ‘how they lived then’ little book. Our Baby is a facsimile edition of a real Edwardian baby manual. This is aimed at mothers and their nursemaids (already we are in the realms of the good old days, how many young mothers today have nursemaids on tap?) with helpful advice on how to feed, dress and care for the new arrival. A mixture of sound practical advice and superceeded, non-pc hints and tips, this manages to be both interesting and informative.
We have also gone a bit cricket mad with a basket of titles about the history of our favourite game. That’s the collective ‘our’ you understand. I like the concept of cricket though, the Britishness, the way it feels more like a historical anomaly than a sporting event, the polite clapping and of course the jerseys. Cricketing whites are very flattering. It has not been the same since they introduced coloured cricket kit. I blame the Australians (for most things). They’ll have us playing in lycra next.
So books about cricket are fine, I have even catered the odd cricket tea and it’s so sensible to play in summer. Your attention may wander but at least you get to sit outside in the sunshine, work on the tan and be fed cucumber sandwiches. Whoever devised rugby and football clearly had no thought for the spectators. Standing on the mud in the rain, freezing your whatsits off, is not my idea of a fun afternoon and if they lose they sulk. Cricket goes on so long no one knows or cares who has won in the end, particularly if the Pimms has been flowing. Anyway for the cricketing fans amongst you (or those clever and supremely well organised people who are stashing stocking fillers now for Santa’s visit later in the year) we have: Leather on Willow, a tiny little pocket book of quips and anecdotes, a snip at 99p; England on This Day which has a factoid for every day of the year taken from England’s international cricketing past (I would say glory but laws of misrepresentation are well-policed); and The Oval, a serious look at every Test Match ever played at the Oval since the first in 1880. Wisden on the Great War is a roll of honour for those cricketers killed in the First World War. Also listed are the 407 first-class cricketers decorated for gallantry. Their obituaries make a moving testimony to some of the lost generation.
And if you can bring yourself to step out of the sale section and pay full price (go on it’s only paperback) there is an absolutely fascinating book, Field of Shadows which is the story of the 1937 English cricket tour of Nazi Germany.
We like to think we have something for everyone – come and have a look.