This weekend, I spent a lovely few days with my Mum in the little Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye. If you’re as much of a book-lover as we are, that name should be ringing some bells for you straight away: Hay-on-Wye is otherwise known as the Town of Books. Yep, it’s a town filled with second-hand and antique bookshops. Basically my dream town.
We stayed in the most beautiful B&B I’ve ever seen, The Bear. We’d actually stayed there the year before, and fell in love with the gorgeous building and the lovely owners, David and Andrew (not to mention the amazing breakfast!). The Bear is a gorgeous old labyrinthine building, with lots of little nooks and crannies, but decorated beautifully, with an amazing mix of the old and the modern:
Mum and I stayed in the twin room, which is much bigger than this photo makes it look – it is beautiful, with a gorgeous en-suite, and the most comfortable beds! Also, look at those gorgeous tapestry blankets…
These two pictures are taken from The Bear’s website.
Anyway, once we managed to tear ourselves away from our stunning little base, we went off on a weekend-long rampage of the bookshops, and I thought I’d show you my finds!
Firstly, paperback fiction!
Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley – this has been recommended to me a couple of times. It’s a retelling of Arthurian legend from the viewpoint of Guinevere, which is something I’m always up for!
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan – one that’s been popping up on my Amazon recommendations for a couple of months. A modern fairytale about selkies.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente – I’ve just finished reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making and really enjoyed it. These have an Alice in Wonderland feel to them, if Alice was narrated by a world-weary, sometimes sarcastic narrator, with a protagonist who is as genre-savvy as you’d always hoped.
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury – I love Fahrenheit 451, but hadn’t ever picked up anything else of Bradbury’s. This sounds deliciously creepy.
Also, introducing my new mascot! I bought this lovely little china “origami” crane in a lovely little shop called Eighteen Rabbit. The owner actually tweeted me to say hello when I tweeted that I was visiting Hay, so I had to pop in, and this little bird just fell into my heart and had to come home with me! Definitely check out the Eighteen Rabbit site, everything is beautiful (and also Fair Trade)!
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog before, but I am a collector of girls’ school stories. My love was started as a child, with the Malory Towers books (oh, how I used to long to go to boarding school), and as an adult, I’ve been collecting a variety of authors, especially Angela Brazil. I love the sweet stories, and also the beautiful covers – kids’ books just looked a lot nicer in the past! There are two bookshops in Hay dedicated to children’s books, and between them I managed to make a huge addition to my collection.
As well as Angela Brazil, I also collect any titles in the genre that catch my eye. I have a fondness for school stories involving redheads (always feisty and hot-tempered, of course). This time, I couldn’t resist the thought of a school called ‘St Bee’s’, especially since the most popular girl is referred to as the Queen Bee!
This last photo shows some of my favourite finds. This copy of Once Upon a Time is a selection of Greek Myths with the most gorgeous Art Deco illustrations by Harry Theaker – I was thrilled to find it, as I have a copy of his King Arthur books in the same binding, and they make a pretty little set. Then The Senior Prefect just stole my heart. It looks absolutely pristine (it’s so bright red), but it’s dedicated 1923, to a School Captain. I’m a sucker for a good dedication. The Leader of the Lower School is another one in great condition, but this is a first edition from 1915. Amazing.
What do you think of my finds? I’m absolutely thrilled with them!