As I sit here in my flat, typing away with rain pouring down the window, it’s hard to believe that only a few hours ago I was in blazing sunshine a short drive away down the coast in the gorgeous seaside town of Hastings. The British summer may have ended before it’s begun, but I’ve brought a little bit of cheer back home with me in the shape of a beautiful second-hand book I found while rummaging in the old town quarter earlier today.
Many old hardbacks have quite plain fabric covers, so this one jumped out at me straight away. I love the 1920s and 30s illustration style and to find it adorning the jacket of a classic like this was a bonus indeed! Inside the front cover there’s a book plate that tells me a little of the book’s history (which I always love finding); it was presented to a Newcastle schoolgirl called Ada Simpson in 1932 for “attendance, progress and conduct” – amazing to think that more than 80 years ago, someone was holding this very book in their hands with probably as much delight as I do today. And it gets even better – there are beautiful colour plates throughout the book, each with a brief caption in the form of a quote from the novel.
I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read any of Elizabeth Gaskell’s work; how this has happened I’m not quite sure! Both my mum and sister are huge fans, yet somehow, when I was embarking on my literary educating by raiding the family bookshelves in my adolescence she was an author I must have passed over for some reason. I haven’t read any classics in a while as I’ve been going through more of a contemporary fiction phase, but now I’m the proud owner of this lovely edition this surely has to be next on my reading list.
I’d love to hear about any gems you’ve uncovered while book-shopping, so do share your finds and pics!