This month, I went to a book sale at the library. I got several books of art, a few children’s books, a dictionary, and some novels. My library’s book sales are almost certain to offer a few Webster’s dictionaries, which is good because the binding of the one I already had gave way. So I was able to pick up a replacement.
Besides enjoying reading and collecting books, I also do a little quilt-making. I found an enormous, beautiful book of American quilts. The end papers show two quilts made from the same pattern, to entirely different effects — one of the things I love about quilts.
I found a little, hardback copy of Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy. I learned of this book because it was quoted in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park — my favorite novel (I even have a blog dedicated to it). Maria Bertram was familiar enough with A Sentimental Journey to quote from it with great feeling.
“[T]here are situations in which very high spirits would denote insensibility. Your prospects, however, are too fair to justify want of spirits. You have a very smiling scene before you.”
“Do you mean literally or figuratively? Literally, I conclude. Yes, certainly, the sun shines, and the park looks very cheerful. But unluckily that iron gate, that ha-ha, give me a feeling of restraint and hardship. ‘I cannot get out,’ as the starling said.” As she spoke, and it was with expression, she walked to the gate: he followed her. “Mr. Rushworth is so long fetching this key!”
— Henry Crawford and Maria Bertram in chapter 10 of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.
And then there is my most exciting find. Strictly speaking, actually, it was my brother who found it, but, as he already has some of the books included, he graciously handed it over to me. It is a beautiful set of six Thomas Hardy novels.
I have read Under the Greenwood Tree, Far from the Madding Crowd, and The Mayor of Casterbridge. I prefer novels with happy endings, which Thomas Hardy is not known for, so I have avoided the more depressing of his stories. However, Under the Greenwood Tree, in particular, is a delightful story which I’d been hoping to find a copy of for some time. I had not heard of The Trumpet Major before, but it sounds interesting. It is Thomas Hardy’s only historical novel and has been noted for its historical accuracy. Like Far from the Madding Crowd, it has a heroine pursued by three suitors and, in the words of the Wikipedia article, “the ending is not entirely tragic”.
The set is beautiful. It was published by The Folio Society (London, 1991). Each book is a different color, hardbound, and with wood engravings by Peter Reddick. The tops of the pages even match the colors of the covers. It will look very handsome on a shelf — just as such a set ought to. And, as a final advantage, because it was a set, I got it for half price.
For the rest, I got a book of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches, one of Queen Victoria’s sketches, and a book of paintings by Norman Rockwell. In the children’s section, I picked up prettily illustrated copies of Rumpelstiltskin, Further Adventures of Brer Rabbit, and The Story of Noah and the Ark, from the King James Bible. Finally, I managed to purchase a duplicate of The Age of Innocence, forgetting that I already had a copy. I remembered as soon as I got home. My new copy, however, is handsomely bound and a hardcover.