miss carter’s war

finally finished reading this lovely book – its actually a brief history of london over a period of 55 years, taking you from the end of the second world war right through to the millennium – taking in all the social aspects of living and working in britain during that time, through the eyes of Marguerite, a warm and likeable character who’s passion for living and improving the lives of young women is especially admirable.   so for a really good and easy read, put miss carter’s war on your list.  now i need another new book to read before sleeping – its the only time i manage to read, but it means that it takes me ages…….  did you know that Sheila Hancock was 80 when this – her first novel (she has written an autobiography before)  was published last year?    as I have always said, its never too late to start anything…….  AN INSPIRATION!

another good book to buy a girlfriend is ‘dangerous women the guide to modern life’, my friend debra bought me this and aptly reminds you, teaches you and urges you – with humour  – listing mottos, poetry, philosophical quotes and sayings that you will have heard before – to make your life more enhancing!

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magma books

took all the family home at xmas to see grandma and finally managed to show them bits of manchester that was not just their grandma’s house and inside a chinese restaurant.  we spent the afternoon walking around the northern quarter, discovering the record shops and vintage stores.  we particularly liked magma books, with its unusual collection of publications – didn’t realise that there was a branch in london too.  of course we all had cake and tea at teacup – delicious!

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i am reading

i recently finished reading ‘ J. M. W Turner’ by Peter Akroyd, influenced by seeing the exhibition at the tate , which ends this month- i wanted to know more about this intriguing man, but especially after seeing the film – the only thing i suggest is having your iPad right next to you whilst you are reading so that you can google the actual paintings as reference – there was definitely not enough pictures in the book to illustrate the description of the paintings.

i am halfway through reading ‘Miss Carter’s War’ by Sheila Hancock, which i am thoroughly enjoying – funnily enough its quite like the film ‘imitation game’, in that its a similar era and addresses the same social issues, but its all through the eyes of a young female teacher.



spitalfields nippers

there is a talk tonight at the bishops gate institute to accompany the book spitalfields nippers – a wonderful collection of photographs of the poorest people in the east end around the 1900’s, all taken by Horace Warner.  when my husband brought the book back home, i immediately bought 3 copies for my friends as a gift, its a lovely book to cherish.   the event is a free event and is just one of the wonderful events that the bishops gate institute holds – what a wonderful place london is!

another book my husband brought back is vintage glamour in the east end, a beautiful collection of jewish wedding photographs taken by Boris Bennett – there is also a discussion coming up at the Jewish museum about how the book came around and the changes to the Jewish community – again this is free.  and what a wonderful gift idea, especially for a wedding!

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dashwood books

i love book shops – especially small independent ones.  i have noticed recently that there are more and more individual bookshops opening, especially specialising in photography and art and special editioned books.  some books are becoming like art – collectors pieces.   dashwood books in new york has a beautiful and unique books, you could spend hours in there.

independent bookshops are perfect to browse in – they always remind me of the book 84 charring cross road – which you must read if you havent already – it actually made me cry.  john sandoe books is one that i was taken too recently and i loved its higgledy piggledy fashion;  maggs bros is the opposite,  housed in a georgian townhouse its collection of antiquarian books is vast and more orderly.    whilst we were in venice, we stumbled upon many antique book shops – with beautiful shop window displays – its one of the pleasures of venice, walking the streets window shopping at dusk.  damocle  books had a beautiful collection of classic authors and poetry books.

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broadway market with its wonderful food stalls and interesting shops has 3 great book shops too, artwords books , broadway bookshop and donion books – both have an eclectic choice of books and a good selection of art based magazines.

queens park books is also a good local bookshop and has a good range of books for children.  its so tempting to go into a bookshop and see a book, then go home and buy it cheaper on amazon, but next time, tell yourself that if you hadnt seen the book in the bookshop then you would never have know about the book – where would we all be without bookshops?  they are a source of inspiration and develop the mind and creativity.  lets try and keep them all alive.

my favourite places to have coffee are in bookshops that also serve you tea and cakes – what a perfect balance, to relax and spend time choosing and discovering new books. the idler academy not only sells book, lovely coffee and cakes, but offers a wide range of interesting courses from Latin to embroidery to life drawing!

the society club in soho, is another lovely place to stop by for tea and always has an everchanging exhibition.

in Cartagena, we stumbled upon a lovely bookshop and cafe, abaco – so if you manage to get to Cartagena Colombia, do try and stop by there.


Primrose Hill Books is a small local bookshop on Regents Park Road,  as well as selling a selection of novels and artbooks, you can ask for out of print, hard to find books:  they can also order books efficiently for you.  Genesis Publications is where I always turn to for special birthday, wedding anniversary presents- they produce the most beautiful limited editioned books – I bought my husband Bob Dylan, David Bowie – they are beautiful collectors items!  Cecil Court, a short walk from Leicester Square Tube is a book lovers dream – the century old shopfronts havent changed and the signs advertise that they are specialists in rare and antiquarian books, maps and prints and all manner of related printed material including stamps and banknotes.  You will definitely find a gift here.  Finally, you must visit Daunt books on Marylebone High Street, one of my favourite book shops – reminiscent of an Edwardian bookshop, it really is what you imagine a bookshop should be like.