04 December 2008

CHRISTMAS BOOK REVIEW: A Worcestershire Christmas

compiled by David Green

Atlanta originally only had one Borders book store, located at the Tuxedo shopping center at the corner of Roswell Road and Piedmont Road. Even after they expanded into other locations around the metro area and moved that particular Borders to a large, two-floor store near Phipps Plaza Mall, I always missed the original store. It was more like a neighborhood bookstore than one of the "box" stores and often had more obscure offerings than Waldenbooks and BDalton, which were the two front-runners back then. It also had comfy chairs in odd corners and was rather homey even though it was stuck in the lower part of the "U"-shaped shopping center and parking was often a "bear."

The particular delight of the original store was the remainder tables. Where the other stores had the run-of-the-mill bestsellers languishing on their remainder tables, the original Borders always had more exotic fare. British-published books often showed up and I'm pretty sure that's where this volume originated, since my copy of Gavin Weightman's Christmas Past was also a original Borders remainder find.

These are short prose (and the occasional poetry) excerpts from books about life in the Worcestershire area of England. Some of them are fictional offerings, including a chapter from a novelization of the British radio serial The Archers, which has been running since the 1940s or 50s, can't remember which, and is still broadcast on BBC radio. Other excerpts are personal memoirs of life in the area...fascinating bits from writers and celebrities about growing up mid-20th century when an apple, an orange, a little toy and a penny was a grand Christmas gift, and when the snows of winter fell so thickly that it was a struggle to walk from croft to barn to tend the livestock. (Make no mistake: some of the memories herein are not pleasant.) Several of the entries are by Fred Archer, who became famous for his books about the vanishing rural landscape of England.

If you're not an Angliophile or fond of nostalgic stories, this probably isn't the volume for you, but I found the stories fascinating...perfect fireside reading!

No comments: