The Planned Parenthood Book Sale is a perk of Midwestern living. I have found Viragos, an almost complete set of Oxford paperback Trollopes, and books by obscure Midwestern writers. It is held every six months in the 4-H Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. If you’re in the area this weekend, it is worth a trip. The sale started today and goes through Monday the 11th.
As usual, we came home with a couple of boxes of books.
John Thorndike’s out-of-print classic, Anna Delaney’s Child, is one of my favorite books. It’s hard to find, so I’m giving away this hardcover (which I bought for $1). This stunning 1986 novel delineates the despair and gradual healing of a group of characters in Fell River, Ohio, who have suffered enormous losses. Anna Delaney, a farmer, has lost her eight-year-old son, Kevin, in a car accident; her father’s beloved wife, Anna’s mother, has died of cancer; Susan, now a paraplegic after a recent climbing accident, longs for the sports that kept her centered; and Anna’s ex-husband, Paul, has moved to Fell River with his unresolved drug problems. But of course it is Thorndike’s lyrical writing that makes this novel a small masterpiece. If you would like the book, leave a comment. The giveaway is open only to Americans and Canadians (because I can’t afford postage to the UK and Europe!). I highly recommend this. Everybody loves this book and gasps and wonders why it’s not in print.
I was thrilled to find a paperback omnibus edition of three of Shirley Jackson’s novels, The Road Through the Wall, Hangsman, and The Bird’s Nest. And even better is this book club edition of Margaret Kennedy’s The Feast (75 cents), which was the main Literary Guild selection in April 1950. The book club’s illustrated review brochure, Wings, is glued on the endpage. It devotes eight pages to The Feast and features a short interview with Kennedy. Wouldn’t you love to have a job writing a fun book club magazine? They weren’t like that in my day!
Conrad Richter won the National Book Award in 1961 for his brilliant novel, The Waters of Kronos, which I wrote about here). I look forward to reading The Sea of Grass (1935). It was probably my best find. Cornelia Otis Skinner’s The Ape in Me. is a collection of humor essays. Skinner is very witty and is best known for Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, a hilarious book co-written with Emily Landau about their trip to Europe after college.
I know many of you swear by Margery Sharp. Her books are very light, but I enjoyed Martha in Paris and In Pious Memory (I wrote about them here). My favorite of her books is the Rescuers series. I love Miss Bianca.
l couldn’t pass up a book with the title Can Jane Eyre Be Happy? (I’ll have to see what the author John Sutherland says, but I do not think she could be happy.) I plan to reread Marge Piercy’s excellent SF novel, Woman on the Edge of Time.
Somebody in an online book group recommended Kathleen Norris, a middlebrow American writer. I tried one of her office romances some years ago and gave up. Maybe the “best of” Norris is what I need. I can’t wait to read John Galsworthy’s short stories, though the cover of this battered paperback will probably fall off halfway through the book, and I’ll have to find an e-book edition (surely free).
This is a Heritage edition of Thackeray’s The History of Henry Osmond, with illustrations by Edward Ardizzone. I’ve read Henry Osmond, but I couldn’t resist it for $2.50. I may donate it back to the sale, because I discovered we already have two paperback copies, and let’s face it, paperbacks re easier to read than the oversized books.
You never find exactly what you’re looking for at a sale, but there’s always something! Overall, I would say this was a “cozy” year. Some years are a little more “edgy.”