Second-hand book haul and ‘Les Parisiennes’ book review: June 2018

[note: I really thought I had posted this a few months ago but it’s actually been in my ‘Drafts’!]

 

If you have been reading my recent posts you will know that I picked up a few books while on a trip around the charity shops in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

It’s only been a week but I’ve already devoured the first book, Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba.

This had been on my wish list for about a year and I was delighted to spot it in the Oxfam Bookshop. Anne Sebba writes a balanced and very readable account of what it was like to be a woman living in wartime Paris. Her careful research has identified scores of Parisiennes, from very different backgrounds, who chose to either get on with life (as much as was possible), resist the invasion, or collaborate with the German occupiers and Vichy government.

Sebba writes about those women who chose to resist the occupying forces through simple acts (refusing to socialise with German soldiers) or violent and clandestine actions (often leading to arrest, torture and internment at a concentration camp). She also attempts to write sympathetically about those women who, through naivety or a sheltered life, or out of desperation, chose to collaborate with the Germans, or supported the puppet French government of Petain.

The author also examines the post war legacy of women who were affected by World War Two. She calls out the immediate post war treatment of those women accused of ‘collaboration horizontale’ i.e. sleeping with the enemy. Approximately 20,000 women were publicly humiliated, sometimes on the basis of flimsy evidence. She also talks about the length of time it has taken for France to recognise the heroic actions of those women who resisted (because they were not ‘soldiers’ in the traditional sense), and the disparity in the post war treatment between Jewish survivors of concentration camps and those from the Resistance.

Les Parisiennes, is such a well written, researched and enthralling read. By focusing on women in Paris in the Second World War, it allows a new voice to be heard and, as a female reader, makes me ask the question “what would I have done?”

This question is asked again in ‘Resistance’, another book from my recent haul. I have read this book before, based on an alternative history where the Germans did invade Britain during World War Two. The author, Owen Sheers, is also a poet and what struck me at the time was how beautiful his writing was. It is quite a few years since I read it- and saw the film-so I’m looking forward to discovering it again.

Finally, I picked up another Nancy Mitford novel, ‘Love in a Cold Climate’. Last year I found ‘The Pursuit of Love‘ at a charity stall and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading the follow-up.

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What’s in your reading pile at the moment? Have you got a summer reading list?

charity shops secondhand books

Second-hand books: Autumn Roundup

charity shops secondhand books

Wow! It wasn’t until I piled up all the recently bought second-hand books  that I realised how many I had! I realise it’s been a while since I did a second-hand book haul post but I think I’m in need of one 🙂

In September I bought this from the Oxfam bookshop in Bath for £2.49:

It’s a wonderful collection of women’s writing from World War Two: letters, diaries, essays. It follows the course of the war from the outbreak, the Blitz and through to the end of conflict. The women whose works are featured range from established authors and war journalists to those ‘ordinary’ women who volunteered in both homefront and military services, or whose sons and husbands were away fighting. (By the way I don’t think there was anything ‘ordinary’ about the women who endured air raids, bombings and the exhausting work of caring for others on the homefront). While based mostly on the experiences of women living in Britain it does also feature overseas perspectives, such as the evacuation of France and the liberation of concentration camps. I am slowly reading through this book still as it’s ideal for dipping in and out of.

In October I picked up these two:

I really enjoyed re-reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (which I don’t think I’d read since I was 13 in the mid eighties). To be re-united with characters like Burt and Queenie, Pandora and Sabre the dog was so enjoyable!

As well as the Judy Moody book (above) bought for my youngest daughter, I also bought this pile of children’s books from Oxfam:

We haven’t read any of them yet, but I’m looking forward to introducing Party Shoes to the girls and reading – for the first time – The Woolpack.

In November I went slightly overboard and bought this collection from the village’s Saturday Market:

If you’ve never read the FE Benson Mapp and Lucia books I heartily recommend them. Written in the 1920s they feature two hilarious characters: Lucia and Miss Mapp. Both are snobs and schemers. While they don’t cross over in every book, theyindividually plot to become top dog in their respective communities. When they do meet in the later books (Mapp and Lucia, Lucia’s Progress, Trouble for Lucia) there are hilarious consequences, with both of them getting their just desserts. The latter three books were dramatised by the BBC a couple of years ago:

 

My final book haul for this season took place earlier this week when I bought these three Christmas books for £3 from the Oxfam Bookshop:

We have a small collection of Christmas books which I get out every year and put in a dedicated book basket. I think this year I will have to go through it and sort through any books that are too young for the girls. I thought I would give The Snow Sister book to my youngest as an extra Christmas present (yes I do buy some of my Christmas presents second-hand!)

Now that I have piled up all my recent book finds I know that I must sort through our existing bookshelves to make way for them!