Monday, September 30, 2013

Friends of the SFPL Big Book Sale, Fall 2013 (Part 2)

I posted a couple of days ago about the highlights of my purchases at the fall Big Book Sale.  Hopefully you're not TOO bored with hearing about the book sale yet, as this is a sort of sequel, to show you a few odds and ends I also picked up.

Inevitably, at every book sale I come across a few books that I know little or nothing about but which are nevertheless seductive in some strange way and leave me no choice but to bring them home.  Sometimes they turn out to be exciting finds, and sometimes I end up donating them back to the library.  But hey, it's all for a good cause.

This year, I wound up with three of these.

The first is by Elisabeth Ogilvie, and I knew her name was familiar but couldn't recall who she was.  It turns out that she's an American writer I was familiar with from recommendations of her Tide trilogy, set in Maine.  At any rate, I probably couldn't have resisted the cheesy cover:

Though you have to admit the one above is less cheesy than another edition of the book:

Then there was a book called Someday I'll Find You, by Margaret Widdemer, a writer I hadn't come across before who also turns out to be American.  It also turns out that Fleur Fisher recently wrote enthusiastically about one of Widdemer's early novels, The Rose-Garden Husband, which gives me more hope for this book than I would have had based on the cover.  But regardless of whatever other glowing qualities the book could turn out to possess, I don't think I could ever have resisted a caption like this: "The modern story of a young girl who experimented with men, women and jobs, and got what wasn't coming to her." 

The mind boggles.

I was also interested in the back cover, which advertises other titles in the "Triangle Books" series.  Apart from the perky and easily pleased people portrayed at the top, the list of titles and authors is tantalizing.  A few of the women writers, such as Bess Streeter Aldrich and Mary Roberts Rinehart, are familiar.  But my obsession with tracking down obscure writers makes me perversely intrigued by the likes of Judith Kelly's Marriage Is a Private Affair, Faith Baldwin's Office Wife, and Helen Topping Miller's Song After Midnight.  Now, these might not sound like masterpieces, but I would note that I have a copy of Margery Sharp's wonderful and hilarious The Stone of Chastity that was published in the similar, mainstream, low-cost Tower Books series, so I am keeping an open mind! 

In addition, this advertisement reveals why I was never able to find information about Maisie Grieg, a romance writer I added to my list recently, who sounded rather charming based on one contemporary review I came across.  It turns out that that was because the Sydney Morning Herald, wherein I found the review, completely butchered her name, which is actually Maysie Greig.  Sadly, although I can now find information about her, and she does seem to have potential to be a highly enjoyable writer, I also have to remove her from my list, since it turns out she was definitively Australian.  Although I have met many lovely Australians and hope someday to add their many great writers to my list, for now I am quite overwhelmed enough by the Brits!

And finally, I was completely and irrationally seduced by this cover:

At least it turns out that the poetically-named Lane is indeed British (a new name for my list!).  She seems, at a quick glance, to have been a prolific writer of historical novels, many with Catholic themes, and the present title, according to Wikipedia, deals with "Titus Oakes and the 'Popish Plot.'"  I probably should know what that is, but alas I do not.  Drat the American education system!

I also picked up a relatively nice copy of Madeleine Henrey's Madeleine Grown Up.  Henrey was born and raised in France, so she doesn't quite fit my list, but she is still of interest and spent most of her life in the U.K. and wrote extensively about her life there.  Oddly, she wrote most of her books under her husband's name (Robert Henrey), though apparently she was actually the sole author.  Her works included several memoirs of life in London and in other locales during World War II.

And speaking of Australian novelists, although I can't add her to my list yet, Christina Stead has long been one of my favorites, and on Tuesday I found a lovely American first edition of her 1966 novel, Dark Places of the Heart (aka Cotter's England).

The next one was sort of an odd one for me to pick up. I've never even read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, but for some reason I picked up a cute little copy of Kate Douglas Wiggin's earlier book, The Village Watch Tower, which some optimistic (or perhaps unscrupulous?) bookseller identified as a first edition inside the front cover.  I'm skeptical.  But does anyone know anything about the book?  Is this just a re-donation?

Beyond these, I picked up the last two volumes of Evelyn Waugh's WWII trilogy, which so many people have recommended to me.  I got volume 1, Men at Arms, a couple of months ago—and still haven't read it—but at $3 per volume for really nice little hardcover editions, I couldn't resist fleshing out the trilogy with Officers and Gentleman and The End of the Battle (aka Unconditional Surrender). 

And I grabbed an Iain Pears mystery, Death and Restoration, for some brain candy.

Alas, no Greyladies.  No Persephones.  Not even any Capuchins or Rue Morgue Press titles.  But still, for $60, a pretty successful excursion, no?  Now I'll be counting the days to the spring sale in April…


  1. Thanks for sharing all this, Scott. A bunch of thoughts came to me, so I'll try and address them one by one....

    Madeleine Henrey. The name and information rang a bell with me, and I remembered she was one of the women Virginia Nicholson wrote about in her excellent book, Millions Like Us. Women and War and Post-war.

    Yes, nonsense about presenting yourself as nothing more than your husband's nameless wife is totally inexplicable, in all walks of life. I mean, even in patriarchal Victorian times it made no sense. Is a puzzlement.

    1. Even odder is that Henrey sometimes wrote AS her husband--i.e. not "Mrs. Robert Henrey" but "Robert Henrey." Even in this case, when she is using the "Mrs.", it seems very strange to use your husband's name for your own autobiography!

      I just picked up Millions Like Us, partly on your recommendation. Can't wait to dive in!

  2. (Pink) Triangle Books.
    When Kristi and I were raiding Barbara Berry's Book Barn's closing sale this summer, I was amazed at the number of Triangle Books from the 1930s and 40s. I thought that sounded really progressive for the time, till I realised that sometimes a triangle is just a polygon. (But now there IS a Pink Triangle Press in Canada).

    Anyway, I thought the titles remarkably intriguing. Especially the one you display above, "...and got what wasn't coming to her." Oh WHY didn't I buy it?

    1. Yes, I imagine there's a big different between Triangle and Pink Triangle! I discovered there's an additional ad for other Triangle titles on the back flap of the Widdemer book--I'll try to post that too at some point. Looking at lists that are mostly comprised of writers I've never heard of makes me realize what an astonishing number of books by women writers were getting published in my time period. Looks like my list will continue to grow!

  3. Finally (for the moment) Elisabeth Ogilvie. I found a book in a thrift shop by her, from the People's Book Club, so it had lovely illustrations on the jacket and the flyleaves.

    But try as I might, I simply couldn't enjoy the story. It was just flat and lifeless, and the people seemed to have no personality. So much for my hope of finding another DES.

    1. Yes, Susan, alas, from reading the first couple of paragraphs of the Ogilvie book, I'm afraid it will be a re-donation to the library. Oh, well, it's for a good cause!

  4. I'm puzzled by this post from 4 years ago suddenly popping up in my feed ... is the newest post wrongly tagged, or is Blogger playing silly wotisits? - Ruth


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