Much Ado Books, Alfriston

On our recent trip to Sussex we managed a quick visit to one of our favourite bookshops, Much Ado Books in the lovely little village of Alfriston.

The owners of the shop, Cate and Nash, have created a wonderful bookshop which is small but beautiful. They have fabulous taste in books and I always love spending an hour looking around the shop. On this visit there were many lovely books to tempt us. The problem at Much Ado Books is,  quite simply, that there are too many books that we both want to buy. As we're running out of space, and bookshelves, we try to be selective in what we buy, but Cate and Nash don't make it easy!

On this occasion the first book I noticed when I walked into the shop was a wonderful edition of Louisa M Alcott's Little Women. It's a vast American edition which is fully annotated and has many illustrations througout the text. The book answers every question I have ever asked about Little Women including what is a velvet snood? A pickled lime? Who is Mrs Malaprop and did Alcott, like Jo, have "mood pillow". Great stuff! But more than this, it's a lovely book to dip into and enjoy Alcott's timeless and beautiful novel.

Next, I found a book by a new author:  Jessica Brockmole's Letters to Skye.  As I picked up the book I thought that it looked, from the cover and desription, as if it might be similar to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society, a novel I absolutely loved and which still haunts me. Strangely, I then noticed the notes which had been popped inside the book, and which said that this was a book for anyone who loved Mary Ann Schaeffer's novel, so strange! It had to be mine!

As we were so close to Charleston and Monk's House I had to buy something Bloomsbury, so settled on a fascinating book about Bloomsbury marriages and relationships - Uncommon Arrangements. It looks as if it will be a fascinating, and gossipy, read!

Much Ado has an excellent selection of recently published literary criticism, although this isn't their specialism, and I found an extremely interesting book by Nicholas Roe, a specialist on Romanticism. His most recent publication, English Romantic Writers and the West Country, has been published by Palgrave and, whilst rather expensive, appears an informative and interesting read. My images of the Romantics are always linked to the Lakes but, after watching Pandemonium a few years ago and reading Richard Holmes' biography of Coleridge's early years, I have been fascinated by their links with the West Country. So, into the shopping basket it went!

And, finally I bought a book I've been looking forward to reading for a few months: John Drury's Music at Midnight, The Life and Poetry of George Herbert. I love Herbert's poetry and I am keenly anticipating knowing more about his life. It's a beautifully produced book and Drury includes much of Herbert's poetry, so it should be an excellent read. I listened to a programme on Radio 4 recently in which Vikram Seth spoke about his connection with George Herbert forged since his move to Herbert's home at Bemerton in the Old Rectory and he made me want to know more about this fascinating and elusive man.

So, all in all, an excellent haul. Chris, of course, made his own selection, but that's his story...