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The Gallery - May

Welcome to THE GALLERY where we invite you to browse some of the beautiful literature we have in stock here in the Plymouth Proprietary Library.

All of these books are available to borrow and you will be pleased to know we don't specify a date for their return, hence our policy of not issuing library fines.

Complimentary coffee, cake and a tour of the Library will be available at all of our Coffee Mornings on the second Saturday of each month for anyone interested in joining. Annual membership is £60 - payable by cheque or cash - with a reduced rate of £30 for under 25's or students.

Wide Sargasso SeaWide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys

Her grand attempt to tell what she felt was the story of Jane Eyre's 'madwoman in the attic', Bertha Rochester, Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea is edited with an introduction and notes by Angela Smith in Penguin Classics.

Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys's brief, beautiful masterpiece.



When MISS EMMIE was in Russia

When MISS EMMIE was in Russia
by Harvey Pitcher

Through the prism of the experiences of five British governesses working in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, Harvey Pitcher paints a rich and intimate portrait of pre Revolutionary Russian society and finds himself with a unique eyewitness perspective on the Russian Revolution and the civil war which swept that society into oblivion. These intrepid women, who achieved an intellectual dignity denied them at home by working abroad, describe a complex, liberal and humane society which has been all but forgotten in the overblown stereotypes beloved by both Soviet and Tsarist apologists. But it is the extraordinary personal adventures of these women as they negotiate the turmoil and anarchy of revolution and civil war which gives the book its page-turning tension.



Mrs Carteret ReceivesMrs. Carteret Receives & other stories
by L. P. Hartley

The scene is Venice, in the golden age between the wars. From her gorgeous Tiepolo-adorned palazzo on the shores of the lagoon, the awesome Mrs Anna Carteret, assisted by her fey consort James, rules the little Anglo-American community as uncrowned queen. Born Hannah Finkelstein in New York, her life is now devoted to demanding ever higher
standards of lineage and decorum from her guests: to be 'received' by Mrs Carteret is an honour reserved for the exquisite few. But when, one stormy night, the most important visitor of her life comes to call, he is by no means the perfect gentleman ...

In this tale, the first of L. P. Hartley's new collection, the sights and sounds of Venice are evoked with elegance and wit, as are the extravagant characters who once peopled it; but this fragile mood is suddenly shattered, and the narrative moves to an eerie conclusion. 


by Travis Elborough

Parks are such a familiar part of everyday life. You might be forgiven for thinking they have always been there – and that they always will.

In fact, the roots of even the most humble neighbourhood park lie in age-old battles over land and liberty. From their medieval life as private royal hunting grounds to their modern incarnation as public spaces teeming with activity, theirs is a story of land-grabbing monarchs and Restoration fops, great Victorian industrialist, punks and model-boaters – and somewhere among it all, the common man trying to enjoy his single day of rest. It’s a story best told by way of the Epic of Gilgamesh and Gary Numan LPs, with trips into the lives of celebrated engineers and artists, and the occasional hop across the Atlantic and the Channel.

Along the way, parks have proved themselves to be shape-shifters, transforming according to their public’s need – they’ve been converted into wartime farms; by night, they’ve provided some with the perfect location for illicit rendezvous. But right now, in an era of cuts, British parks are under threat. As such, Travis Elborough’s joyful and loving portrait is a timely celebration of a small wonder that we may on occasion take for granted. It will have your next trip to the park brimming with history, anecdote and new meaning.


by Eden Phillpotts

The road flung itself out naked and free, mile after rolling mile, along the Moor. It climbed the hills, fell into the valleys, crossed the rivers by bridges or fords, climbed again, and finally, reduced to a white thread, passed into the far horizon and vanished through a gap between stone-crowned tors.

Along it, under the brief sunset glow of an October evening, two men went slowly together, and one walked sedately on legs as thin and long as a stork, while the other stumped with a stick and a timber toe, for his right leg, from the middle thigh downward, remained at Gibraltar when he returned from the memorable siege of that fortress, a hero.

And now, in the early years of the nineteenth century, his country was at grips with America and France and he could only look on, and bark, and wish he was young again.

Beside General Sir Archer Godolphin went his brother, the Reverend Septimus. The soldier was short and stout. At a little distance he looked like a gigantic pegtop that had grown a human leg to steady its gyrations.



BY Jasper Ridley

Lord Palmerston was one of the most successful of all British politicians. Linking the world of the Regency with the middle of Queen Victoria’s reign, he was made Secretary at War in 1809 at the age of twenty-five, and held the post for nineteen years. From 1830 to 1841 he was Foreign Secretary. At first he was regarded as weak and ineffectual, a ‘Lord Cupid’ who was more active in love affairs than in diplomacy; but before the end of his term of office he had raised English prestige in Europe to a record height. Without any special following in Parliament, he became the most popular statesman in the country, because of his vigorous defence of the rights Englishmen abroad.

He played a crucial part in the creation of Belgium, saved Portugal and Spain from complete tyranny, rescued Turkey from Russia and saved the route to India from France. He was again Foreign Secretary from 1846-51, when he was in effect dismissed by Queen Victoria after undertaking to show her his foreign dispatches and then manifestly failing to do so. He would probably have averted the Crimean War if he had been Foreign Secretary at the time; and in 1855, at the age of seventy, he finally became Prime Minister, because the public believed he was the only man who could win the war. With a break of sixteen months, he was Prime Minister until he died in 1865.

Palmerston was not greatly concerned with morality. His policy, first, last and all the time, was to protect and strengthen British interests, not least by a policy of brinkmanship that preserved the international balance of power and thus made British nineteenth-century prosperity possible.

His personal energy and vitality were phenomenal—at the age of seventy-nine he rode from Piccadilly to Harrow in fifty-five minutes—and his treatment of his fellow men and women, from the humblest clerk in the Foreign Office to Metternich, Napoleon III and Queen Victoria, was consistently robust.


Wycliffe and the Guild of NineWycliffe and the Guild of Nine
by W. J. Burley

The artist's colony is at the site of a disused mine working on the moor west of St Ives, and it's run by Archer and his wife Lina, according to astrological principles. The newest member of the colony is Francine, a beautiful if fey young woman with a legacy to invest. Archer isn't keen - not least because she is a Scorpio - but Lina takes a more pragmatic view.




Letter to my MotherLetter to my Mother
by Georges Simenon

There are unavoidable comparisons to be made here with Peter Handke's A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (p. 98) as just before, rather than right after his mother's death, Simenon attempts to reconstitute the life of the woman he had never known. Or loved. ""We never loved each other in your lifetime. Both of us pretended."" In remnants, as poverty-frayed as her life, he converts a few facts into the figure of the woman he can now view as ""resigned"" but sustaining an ""inward pride,"" insecure but persevering. She was the thirteenth child of a poor family whose father died when she was five; she married a taciturn man who also died young and without means; she took in roomers; she remarried, perhaps only to secure a pension. At the end Simenon sees her as indurated by more than circumstance with her ""ferocious need to be good, in the eyes of others"" and most of all her own. There are of course many unasked questions and unresolved guilts set down here in commemorative form. But in contrast to the Handke--despite the strangely similar set of givens--there's far less emotional duress and terminal impact.


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William Cookworthy

Memoir of William Cookworthy
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Plymouth History Festival 2017