Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Digging For Treasure // Second Hand Book Haul

There are many things I hold dear to my heart and visiting my family in England is one of (if not the most) precious ones- add to this books and boy oh boy am I a happy bunny! It just so happens that on my latest trip back home, my parents, fella and I spent a wonderful weekend discovering the historical treasures and stunning landscape of Wales. Nestled in the grounds of the magnificent Chirk Castle was the tiniest of second hand book sales, that of course I scavenged through, selecting for myself a little collection of goodies to bring back to the Netherlands and cherish forever as a momento of our visit.

The first book that caught my eye was a delicate, old copy of The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, originally released around 1850, this version was published by Mellifont Press Ltd in 1948. Immediately the engraved work of the intricate design on the cover just grabs your attention and this delicate pattern continues inside the book and on the spine. A glorious sized novel, its hardback standing true to the test of time has protected the pages within, showing that it has been lovingly read yet carefully kept. The introduction reads:

The Scarlet Letter is one of the first great regional novels of America; and one of that Continent's first classics, for its author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, was a contemporary both of Fenimore Cooper and of Edgar Allan Poe, and an imaginative writer of supreme genius.
The theme of this book is sin. Its title is the symbol of sin. The story tells  of the effect upon the sinner of her sin and of its strange symbol- the Scarlet Letter 'A' of a detected adulteress, that she must wear embroidered on her dress, for in the intolerant Puritan New England of the 17th century the Wages of Sin earned that badge of shame. It is an unforgettable book and both tragic and powerfully dramatic. But so subtle and skillful is Hawthorne in his treatment that never once could delicate taste be offended. Indeed, despite its theme, The Scarlet Letter wrings pity from the reader for its harassed characters. Indeed, he solicitously shares the sufferings of its four immortal fictional protagonists: Hester Prynne, the erring wife, Arthur Dimmesdale, the false priest, Roger Chillingworth, the betrayed husband, and Pearl, the fatherless child. In short, it is a book that must, and ever will be read.

The other yellowed with age, shining gem that I found was the controversial classic Madame Bovary written by Gustave Flaubert and translated in this Penguin Classics 1952 edition by Alan Russell. The pages may be crumpled and torn, there may be scratches and dashes of ink here and there but this is another elusive find. I love the size and weight of this book, the stand out green that was standard for the Penguin Classics back then, and if ever a book were to have that ripe, truly loved book smell, then it would be this one! And for two shillings and sixpence I'd say it was a bargain!

The story that caused a moral outrage upon its publication in 1857, follows the tale of bored and beautiful Emma Bovary, stifled by married life she longs for passion and escape, although where this leads her holds little to be desired. Heralded as one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, erotically charged and controversially admonished, yet still read and re read today.

My third and final bounty comes in the bright and punchy form of Lion Boy {Big Secrets, Big Cats, Big Adventure} created by Zizou Corder, a Puffin Books novel published by Penguin in 2003. I am quite sure I need not explain what drew me to this book, but the joy grows once you open its pages and revel in the magnificent end pages, the chapter titles, the scattering of tiny illustrations throughout and the sheer imagination that oozes from this small bundle of paper. I had never heard of it or its author but can't wait to sink my teeth into this treasure;

Escape on a voyage of wild adventure and incredible friendship. Charlie Ashanti can speak Cat. He takes it for granted- but when his mum and dad go missing, the cats are the only friends he can turn to. Setting out to find his parents, Charlie stows away on an incredible circus ship bound for Paris. On board he meets six proud, beautiful lions who need his help. With danger close behind and uncertainty ahead, they embark together on the adventure of a lifetime.

So there we have it, a small pile of books stemming from curious minds and unquiet imaginations, travelling through time, passed from hand to hand, continuing to stoke the fire of escape and adventure. Happily crossing my path for the time being, who knows where the future will take these three parcels of joy?! For another loved before book haul head over here!

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