Happy Easter Book Haul

The book haul was the best part, but still only a part of my lovely afternoon in London yesterday. I went to watch Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre and, like most of the people there, I went because it starred Tom Hiddleston. But I got so much more from the play, which is about adultery and friendship and, of course, betrayal (although it did feel very ‘Hampstead set complaining about their woes’). Hiddleston not only cuts a dashing figure in a well-cut suit, but is very good as a man whose world is coming apart, and nevertheless tries to stay aloof and in control. There was an enormous (and remarkably well-behaved) queue afterwards to get autographs and take selfies with him (which I watched from a distance with anthropological detachment). I was more impressed with the very minimal staging and subtle lighting effects, which really pared down this production to the dialogue and the universal feeling of hurt.

This one’s a bit blurry, but I wanted to share the lovely tote bag with The Future of Books Is Feminist.

It was a summery day, Piccadilly Circus was full of tourists, so I decided to take a little walk and search for the bookshop The Second Shelf, which I’d supported via Kickstarter before it opened. You’ll have heard other book bloggers raving about it, and sure enough, I met Eric of Lonesome Reader fame there, who fortunately looks exactly the way he does in his videos and his Twitter profile picture.

I was shown Sylvia Plath’s purse with her lucky coin still inside, a three-volume early edition of Sense and Sensibility that belonged to Jane Austen’s friend and confidante Martha Lloyd and so many other treasures. At the more affordable level, I did not leave the shop unscathed, despite my hitherto reasonably well-enforced book-buying ban (I had a slip-up at the British Library, but that was the only time I bought books since January).

I could not resist a pristine Folio edition of the Ripley trilogy (yes, there were two novels published later, cashing in on the popularity of the series, but these are the original three). I still think Patricia Highsmith is one of the top writers of psychological thrillers ever. I’m also a fan of Stevie Smith and May Sarton, and you don’t often find them nowadays, especially not uncollected writings (including short stories and essays) and letters. Last, but not least, I am a huge fan of ballet and Allison Devers (the bookshop owner) has done such a fantastic job of tracing four volumes of this little mini-series of ballets (published in 1945), introduced and retold by Marion Robertson and Sandy Posner, with illustrations by Joyce Millen. You not only have obvious suspects such as Swan Lake and Giselle, but also two that are rarely performed nowadays: Petrouchka and La Boutique Fantasque.

I have to admit that this visit – and the thought that such a bookstore exists – has made me happier than I’ve ever been over the past 2-4 months. I’ve been without the boys this Easter holiday, but instead of focusing on what I am missing, I am having great fun reading all day! Books are my therapy, my indulgence, my luxury, my necessity. Have a lovely Easter break, everyone!

Traditional Romanian Easter Eggs, from Lumea Satului.

16 thoughts on “Happy Easter Book Haul”

  1. Happy Easte to you too! I’m also a huge fan of Patricia Highsmith but someone just lent me an audiobook of the Ripley books and, weirdly, I got very bored quite early on… The book shop sounds amazing, must visit when next in London.

  2. Oh what a lovely day. That play does sound excellent. The second shelf is such a wonderful shop, that I am already looking forward to my second visit. Though I need to read more books, and save a few pennies before I do. I too, am just happy it exists. Happy Easter to you.

  3. I’m so glad you found such book treasures, Marina Sofia. I would have loved to see Sylvia Plath’s handbag, too. All in all, it sounds like a really lovely day – even the weather cooperated, which is wonderful. Well, you deserve it. Glad you’re enjoying the reading time.

  4. A very happy Easter to you, Marina. Sounds like you had the perfect day out – and all those loverly books, too! Incidentally, I have the exact same hardback edition of Stevie Smith’s ‘Me Again’. In fact, I’m pretty sure I reviewed it on my blog. Anyhow, keep up the reading, it’s the best tonic I know!

  5. What a perfect day, Marina – not just the books but the whole package plus bumping into Eric – how lovely! And I’m with you when you say “Books are my therapy, my indulgence, my luxury, my necessity.” That’s exactly how it is for me too. Have a wonderful Easter break and read up a storm!!! 😀

  6. How lovely to hear about your trip to The Second Shelf. It’s definitely on my list of places to visit once I’m up and running again. (London is too much of a stretch for me at the moment with the all the jostling crowds and hubbub in the West End.) That set of Folio editions sounds absolutely gorgeous – you definitely did the right thing in treating yourself!

    Have a relaxing Easter, Marina. It’s nice to see the return of posts from you, however occasional they may be.

  7. Had to chuckle at the idea of you watching that queue of fans “with anthropological detachment”. I did very much the same yesterday when, in the middle of a shopping mall, I saw this long queue of people. So of course I couldn’t resist finding out what it was all about. What a disappointment – just a set themed on Game of Thrones where you could sit on a chair in a black gown and have your photo taken holding a trident. People paid for this!!!

  8. Yes, a perfect day — a play with Tom Hiddleston (loved The Night Manager), visiting a great bookstore and buying some treasures. I agree with your sentiment about books. I, too, would write an “Ode to Books.” Always my distraction and necessity.

  9. What a perfect day, crammed full of delights. The books looked wonderful and I’m quite certain that Tom Hiddleston did too – from an anthropological distance of course! Hopefully you are spending the rest of this gloriously sunny weekend in the garden with your books. Happy Easter, Marina 🙂

  10. Oh my! You watched Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre! I only got to know about this show because the theatre is close to the Japan Centre near Piccadilly, where I often go, and I walked passed it many times. I wanted to see it so much, but I guess now I will not. I also love Patricia Highsmith, and I have not yet heard of The Second Shelf. I have to visit it, thanks a lot for the info!

    1. Coincidentally, I was snacking on food and drink bought at the Japan Centre while watching the general fawning over Tom from the other pavement… It is worth seeing, I think, it’s well staged and well acted. Just the usual burden of stardom!

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