A white rose would be more symbolic…
…because this old and well-loved book which landed on my doorstep recently concerns a mystery about Richard 111 of England, formerly Duke of York, whose symbol was the white rose. The House of York and the the House of Lancaster, whose symbol was a red rose, fought a series of dynastic battles against one another in the fifteenth century.
In The Daughter of Time, Inspector Grant, a Scotland Yard detective, spending a period in hospital suffering immobility due to a broken leg, uses the time to overcome his boredom by pondering the mystery behind an old portrait of Richard 111. Grant approaches the mystery surrounding this enigmatic king in much the same way that he might apply his investigative powers to a criminal investigation and thus begins his effort at explaining the facts behind a mystery that has endured for four hundred years.
The story is fascinating, and the ruminations of the immobile inspector make his conclusions about this intriguing mystery of the past truly fascinating.
Josephine Tey was a pen name of Elizabeth MacKintosh, who wrote unconventional mysteries under the name Gordon Daviot as well. The Daughter of Time was almost her last novel before she died in 1952. The book is still available in paperback and kindle editions. Apparently her work motivated historians to reconsider their own conclusions about Richard 111.
The Working Camera by John Hedgecoe and Ron Van Der Meer
I have had this book for over twenty years, and every time I decide to tidy my bookshelves and get rid of excess books I let my hand slide over this one, a brilliant three-dimensional publication by the late great John Hedgecoe and Ron Van Der Meer and I decide anew that I am not ready to part with it.
It is a brilliantly laid out book, with the clearest pictures and diagrams, explaining in detail the principles behind SLR photography. It has a hands -on approach, where there are sections of the book one can pull out and experiment and arrive at a more concrete understanding of the theories of photography.
For the first time ever, today, I even assembled the flash light stands and reflectors as suggested on one of the last pages of the book.
This is a book that is still relevant to those who want to learn the basics of photography. It is so clearly written and imaginatively designed around Hedgecoe's crisply clear photos that it would still be a worthy rival to many of the online video tutorials one can access so readily.
A quick google search this evening revealed its presence as a second hand book, but it seems a pity that this should be its status. There is a case to be made for reprinting this classic and bringing it into the digital age.
A friend who knows how much I enjoyed the work of Alexander McCall Smith
surprised me yesterday by sending me a copy of this cookbook.
It is full of interesting images,stories and customs from Botswana
and it pays due homage to the wonderful character,Precious Ramotswe,
who made her first appearance in "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency".
501 must-read books
A kind friend recently presented me with this fine tome.
As I go through it I'm discovering lots of "old friends"
no longer present on my shelves. They've been passed on
to family members, friends, booksales...
It would be lovely to keep all the books you encounter
in life. Unfortunately in my case I'd need a fine bank
balance to afford a bigger house to hold all those I'd
love to have kept. Perhaps I should've become a librarian...
The old cookery scrapbook
This is the scrapbook I started some decades ago when I was a penniless student
and unable to afford the lovely glossy cookbooks in the bookshops.
I read and tried and then cut out and kept recipes that worked for me.
The much battered and abused scrapbook was recently found
at the back of a cupboard.
Here it is open at a page that holds Constance Spry's recipe for a chocolate roulade.
She was the founder of the Cordon Bleu School, and legend has it that she
paid £100 to a Paris chef for this recipe.
Irish Names of Places
by P.W. Joyce
The three volumes of this work belonged to my late father,
and I was delighted to be given them by my mother.
The first volume was published in 1869, with a forty four year gap
to the publication of volume 3. Together all three volumes
represent a lifetime of scholarship and dedication by
P.W. Joyce in his ground-breaking work on tracking and
explaining the origins and meanings of place names in Ireland.
It prepared the way for the many modern scholars who
have continued to add further enlightenment to an area of
scholarship that helps us to understand the history and geography
of our local environment.
This book was published thirty years ago and has had pride of place on my shelves for a long time.
It was a gift from six of my colleagues when my second child was born,
and I have treasured it ever since.
It contains new writing by many of Ireland's best writers,
and it is doubly valuable to me because of the way it is arranged.
In every case a photograph of the writer faces the first page of his or her work.
The photographs were taken by Mike Bunn especially for this book
and they are works of art in themselves.