I've just had a lovely week off work, visiting Sydney. I managed quite a few bookish things - a fruitful trawl of a couple of second-hand bookshops...
Look! Two Persephones -- Cicely Hamilton's William, An Englishman; Monica Dickens' Mariana. Such a great find - second-hand they are as rare as hens' teeth in Australia. The others are: a Virago edition of Charlotte Mew's collected poetry and prose; Beryl Bainbridge's The Dressmaker; Marguerite Duras' The Lover; and Lisa Lang's Utopian Man (the fictionalised story of the founder of Melbourne's Cole's Book Arcade – reviewed by reading matters and anzlitlovers).
Some new book window-shopping (and buying)...
Here we see Anne Summers' The Misogyny Factor (for a taste of this take-down of misogyny in Australian public life, see her extraordinary talk (NSFW!) here. Also Lily Brett's Lola Bensky (which I wanted to read after enjoying travellinpenguin's review), and Murder on the Home Front by Molly Lefebure, based on her work as secretary to a forensic pathologist in London in World War Two.
A kind friend, knowing my love of vintage Australiana, gave me this wonderful old book - Possum by Mary Grant Bruce - about a sickly city family who embrace the health-filled delights of the bush:
I went to a couple of events at Sydney Writers' Festival. How's that for the view from one venue?
I managed to get along to three 'conversations' (a friendly format, I think): on Bohemian Sydney: Dancing with Empty Pockets with Tony Moore (author of a new book on bohemianism in Australia) and Elizabeth Farrelly; What the Classics Teach Us with Robert Greene, David Brooks, Richard Gill and Alastair Blanshard; and Fantastical Tales, with Sulari Gentill, Kate Forsyth, K.B. Hoyle and Judith Ridge. An eclectic mix, but all quite fascinating. Two of the three were free, too – a nice way to allow everyone access to some really good discussions.
I visited a couple of exhibitions, including Dressing Sydney at the Sydney Jewish Museum (about the origins of many familiar Australian fashion and design labels) and - my absolute favourite - the Lego Colosseum at the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.
And found a bottle of orgeat syrup, which I'm sure all Regency fans will recognise as a suitable Georgette Heyer-ish drink for ladies. I suspect Regency ladies did not drink it like this, however - the 'Japanese Cocktail' (brandy, orgeat, bitters, fresh lime. Amazing…):
I also gave a seminar paper at the university (terrifying but happily well received by a very kindly audience).
Sydney University, looking very handsome.
Of course, despite all of these bookish pursuits, I only finished one book - on the plane home! – the amusing tale of how a clever conman latches on to an unscrupulous millionaire and teaches him some lessons in humility (and frustration): An African Millionaire: Episodes in the Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay by Grant Allen (who wrote one of my favourite reads this year, Miss Cayley's Adventures, also free at project gutenberg).
Finally, in the minus column, my laptop has died after a rapid and painful decline, so I have a backlog of about 30 million blog posts I want to comment on but can't until the replacement arrives. On the plus side, no one seems to have noticed that I'm writing this at work… Talk soon!