Sunday, January 11, 2015

Christmas books - a very Holtby holiday!

A day or two after Christmas, I lamented that no one had bought me books as Christmas gifts. When I was a child, I usually received a book - and more often several - but as an adult with somewhat specific and eclectic tastes, no one seems to like buying me books anymore. I can't blame them; as husband reminds me, I curate my collection very carefully and people are unlikely to know just what I want.

So I lamented, but it seems my theatrical disappointment was a bit premature, because a few days later, my mother-in-law sent me the critically-acclaimed Girl Reading, which has been on my to-read list for a while now. Evidently the author began with a number of real-life portraits of women reading throughout the ages, and imagined what their stories might be. I'm excited to read it, and what a gorgeous cover! I'll have to find images of the paintings to have at hand as I read it.

My husband then found me a Winifred Holtby novel on paperbackswap, something I'd put on my wish list a few years ago. Because he's awesome, husband checked to see if the person was giving away any other books I might want - and she was! So he ordered me both Holtby's Poor Caroline and The Land of Green Ginger, and I've been eagerly anticipating their arrival for about a week now.

The first and thus far only Holtby novel I've read is her last one and masterpiece, South Riding. I knew practically as soon as I started it that I'd want to own my own copy, but I sometimes get picky with cover art and this book was one of those of which I wanted a very specific version. The new Virago edition is absolutely lovely, its cover apparently a vintage railway poster. I've searched for it in various online secondhand book shops, but could never be sure I'd get the exact cover I wanted so I never ordered it - but I thought it unlikely that I'd ever find it in an American used bookstore either.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the battered yellow mailing envelope to find not two, but three Holtby books! A very sweet little note from the sender offered South Riding as an extra gift - and in the amazing new edition! I owe the sender a tremendous thank you. She couldn't have known how much I loved the book nor how much I adore this particular cover. I'm so excited to revisit the politics of the South Riding community and encounter these other two novels for the first time. Thank you, mysterious paperbackswap member, for your kind generosity. You've totally made my Christmas holiday.

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