New-To-Me Books

I went to Barter Books in Alnwick last week and was really delighted to find these books:

Heatwave etcFrom the bottom up they are:

  • Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell – this was right at the top of a bookcase, far too high up for me to reach, but a helpful member of staff got it down for me. It’s one I’ve had on my wishlist since I read The Hand that First Held Mine, which I thought was excellent. This is her sixth book and is a portrait of a family in crisis during the heatwave in 1976.
  • The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate – this is the book to read in October for Cornflower’s Reading Group. I read about on the morning I was going to Barter Books  was amazed to find a good hardback copy just as though I’d reserved it. The shooting party takes place in autumn 1913 – ‘Here is a whole society under the microscope, a society soon to be destroyed.’ I began reading it in the shop whilst having a cup of coffee and it promises to be really good.
  • Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie – I always check which Agatha Christie books are in at Barter Books. Sometimes there aren’t any I haven’t read, but this time there were two. This one does not feature Poirot or Miss Marple, not like the TV adaptation that had Miss Marple (in the form of Geraldine McEwan), solving the mystery. In her Autobiography Agatha Christie wrote that ‘of her detective books the two that satisfy me best are Crooked House and Ordeal by Innocence.’ (An Autobiography page 538)
  • Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie – I was so pleased to find this book as it’s one of the best-selling books of all time and one I’ve never read, although I remember the basics of the plot from TV/film versions. I’ve beenlooking out for it for ages. The book was originally published in 1939, when the title would have given little offence in the UK, but it was different in the USA and it was first published there in 1940, a few months later, as And Then There Were None. This copy was published in 1968 in the UK and still has its original title, as the book continued to be published under this title until 1985 . I was quite startled, though, to see the cover picture showing a golliwog:

Ten Little Niggers

I’m looking forward to reading all of them – and the pleasurable problem now is deciding which one to read first – it maybe Ten Little Niggers! Again quoting from her Autobiography, Agatha Christie wrote that:

It was well received and reviewed, but the person who was really pleased with it was myself, for I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been. (page 488)

17 thoughts on “New-To-Me Books”

  1. I found an ancient copy of Ten Little Niggers at a friend’s house and read it as a young teen, and only discovered much later that it was the same as And Then There Were None. It is one of my favourites. Look forward to hearing about Ordeal by Innocence – I haven’t read that one either.

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    1. Vicki, I was quite surprised by AC’s assessment – maybe she liked them best because they don’t feature Poirot or Miss Marple. I’ve read Crooked House and I enjoyed it, but it’s not one of my favourites.

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  2. Margaret – What a terrific lot of books you have got! A lot of people think that Ten Little Niggers is one of Christie’s finest works, and it’s easy (for me anyway) to see why. I’ll be really interested to see your review of it.

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  3. That’s the copy of Ten Little Niggers which I had and I’ve been kicking myself for getting rid of it prior to one of our many moves in the 1970s. I’ve always loved golliwogs, very un-pc of me I suppose.

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    1. Katrina, that’s one reason I find it so hard to get rid of books. This one is not going back to Barter Books! I was never fond of golliwogs, although I did save some of the tokens on Robertson’s jam when they used to exchange them for a golly badge – never got one though.

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  4. Congrats on finding a much-sought book. I hadn’t realized the different titles were for the same book, so finding the original is quite an accomplishment. Will you read this copy, or save it on a shelf, and read a less rare copy?

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  5. I have to write that reading the book title of Christie’s book sends a shiver down my spine. It is a reminder of an ignorant time as is the use of the word golliwog which culminated in the pejorative term ‘wog’. Personally, I couldn’t have this book on my bookshelf in the same way as I wouldn’t have Tintin in the Congo in my house or DVDs of The Black and White Minstrel Show.
    The Shooting Party is a good read. It was made into a film sometime in the eighties and a rather good film it turned out to be starring the wonderful James Mason.

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