I went the library today. I went wearing wellies and had my literary dreams rudely interrupted by a call from school begging me to collect a little boy who had banged his head. I went to the library despite the fact that my Kindle is bursting with all that is unread and there are nineteen Agatha Christie books waiting on my read me next shelf. I went because I am greedy for books and it turns out that this is the kind of greed the universe is happy to reward with Kirstie Allsop’s Vintage Home and a novel I can’t quite believe I missed when it was published four years ago.
Things to Make and Mend was just one of the lovely bookish prizes the universe bestowed on me today but it is almost certainly the one I am most excited about (Sorry Kirstie!), for while I am loathe to judge a book by it’s cover, I am terribly prone to judging a book by it’s opening paragraphs and these are the kind that make me want to collapse in a heap right there amongst the library bookshelves and read and read and read…
“Sally Tuttle loves haberdashery departments.
Sometimes she will walk into one just to gaze at it’s beauty: at the ribbons and feathers, the broderie anglaise, the stacked rainbows of silk and cotton. It is like admiring a mountain or a still lake. Sally stands and admires the rows of threads, the baby wools, the beads, the sequins, the poppers, the cloth-covered buttons. She is soothed by the stiff, wicker dummies modelling their cardigans; the wide strips of satin, the magazines with their racy titles (Creative Cloth! Stitching today! Cross stitch!). She even admires the word Haberdashery, printed on the swinging sign above her head. Haberdashery, with its hints of the Middle East and of the village hall.
There is also the fact that you hardly ever see a man in there. Haberdashery departments are havens; convents dedicated to The Patron Saint of Quiet women. she walks into them to kneel at the altar of stranded cottons.”
And so begins this tale of lost friendship, with two single Mothers at it’s heart and though I’m sure it can’t be terribly good blogging form to rave about a book before I have read it, I know we are going to enjoy this one. I can feel it in my bones: any book that worships at the altar of the gentle arts is bound be a keeper.
It is seven o’clock now. Finley is in his fleecy onesie and I am standing in the kitchen typing this with one hand and sauteing mushrooms to be eaten en croute with the other. Soon I will tuck my chatty little boy into bed and kiss the swollen bump on his head away, then wander downstairs again to curl up on the sofa and perplex men across the land by proving myself to be entirely capable of reading Things To Make and Mend and watching the glorious dream TV that is The Paradise at the same time.
It is so terribly easy to multitask when there is an abundance of haberdashery to be enjoyed. The Patron Saint of Quiet Women was surely born in the Victorian splendor of the department store?