I can't resist typing a passage for you (oh come on, you know it's at least worth your time when you can pick a random passage and laugh till your stomach hurts) :
Off to read Good Behaviour by Molly Keane (another Virago!)
I've also ordered two books. The first one is a hardcover copy of The Bread and Butter Stories written by Mary Norton, much talked about on different blogs. She's the author of The Borrowers, a series of books I had never even heard of up till recently although apparently it's quite famous - I didn't read much as a child.
When Mary Norton, creator of The Borrowers, needed money to support herself and her young family, she turend her hand to writing short stories for publication in women's magazines. They were not designed for consumption by literary critics or 'serious' readers; they were simply a device to make money, so she always referred to them as the 'bread and butter stories'. Now, published for the first time, they show that Norton was much more than just a 'bread and butter' writer. The themes of these tales are perennials - growing pains, a new love affair confessed by a prim married woman, a newly-wed tourist almost tempted by the exotic charm of a bullfighter - but Norton's light touch turns them into enchanting cameos. The stories set in Portual, where Norton lived for a while, are particularly evocative.
I'll admit I was even more tempted when I saw the gorgeous cover :
Sabriel attends Wyverley Girls College in Ancelstierre (Nix's version of normal) and has recently graduated with runaway firsts in every subject. But her particular school has certain extra-curricular activities, like the learning of Magic, because of its proximity to the Wall which marks Ancelstierre's border with the Old Kingdom. Over the wall, life is very different and the use of magic is commonplace. Then, on the edge of death, Sabriel's father, Abhorson, sends her a cryptic message that means she must venture into the Old Kingdom and calm the storm that is brewing there, and which will surely multiply at her father's passing. Refusing to accept his fate, Sabriel inherits the tools of her father's trade and his name. Her new duty is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest with the help of seven powerful bells worn across the chest. Sabriel seeks her father's slayer in a mammoth journey that is hindered by dark magic, monsters-a-plenty and shadowy unsubstantial evils.
Who should I leave you with ? As I've been listening to old favourites these days, I picked the singer I've been listening to for the longest and I picked a live album (from her Afterglow tour) as I couldn't choose a favourite studio album - they're all breathtaking. Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah McLachlan !