Saturday, October 27, 2007

Treasures from the FOL sale

In the spring and fall, the Friends of the Loveland Public Library put on the best used book sale I've ever attended. If you live in Northern Colorado, you owe it to yourself to check out this sale. I always find some great books, including out-of-print historical fiction titles.

On Friday, I spent $15 to become a Friends member, which entitled me to browse books for 4 hours before the sale opened to the general public. I bought 23 wish-listed books to post on
PaperBackSwap, including several vintage Jean Plaidy and Anya Seton paperbacks and three of Philippa Gregory's popular Tudor novels.

Here are some of the books I bought for myself:

Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Cambell Barnes, about Anne Boleyn. Barnes wrote several historical novels set in Plantagenet and Tudor times. Her books are hard to find, although I wonder if any enterprising publishers plan to bring them back into print, as we've recently seen reissues of Jean Plaidy, Anya Seton and Hilda Lewis titles.

The Iron King by Maurice Druon. Tanzanite just reviewed this novel on her blog. Set in the reign of Philip the Fair, the book covers the monarch's attack on the Templar order of knights and the infidelity of his three daughters-in-law. The book is the first in "The Accursed Kings" series. With my luck, I will enjoy the book enough to want to read the rest, which can be expensive to buy secondhand.

The Moneyman by Thomas Costain, "the vivid and dramatic story of Jacques Coeur, who built a vast empire of trade that made him the richest man in all of 15th-century France. But Jacques Coeur wanted more than wealth." Costain wrote a well-known quartet of histories of the Plantagenet monarchs: The Conquerers, The Magnificent Century, The Three Edwards and The Last Plantagenets. I had never heard of this novel, but it looks like a fun read.

Coronation of Glory by Deborah Meroff, about the Lady Jane Grey and her ill-fated, nine days' reign.

At this sale, I always seem to find one or two books I just have to buy for the sake of novelty. This time, I discovered a library discard called Isabella: Young Queen of Spain by Mildred Criss, which, according to the copyright page, was on its 12th printing in 1941. The text on the jacket flap bills it as a book "for older girls and boys.

The book description does its best to make its subject sound appealing. "Astonishing Isabella of Spain! Five hundred years old in history, but young Isabella is not an out-of-date heroine! She was as animated and vigorous as any modern young girl; staunch in upholding her principles; clever in confounding her enemies; affectionate and gentle in caring for her invalid mother; courtly and restrained when she assumed her rightful queenly station."

The jacket flap also praises Isabella and Ferdinand's crusade against the "Infidel" Moors in a way that seems very un-PC today: "Isabella and her knight, Ferdinand of Aragon, pledged themselves to a Crusader's life against mighty forces of greed, hatred and violent oppression. No personal sacrifice was too great to be made, and the result of this determined unselfishness and courage was triumph."

The text on the back of the dust jacket reveals Mildred Criss also wrote books about Mary Queen of Scots, Pocahontas, Abigail Adams and Lafayette. She designed her New Hampshire home "as an exact copy of a French Normandy cottage."

I will definitely blog about this book once I've finished it!


Mimi said...

Ooooh, I congratulated you on PBS, but good shopping.

And, yes, reading Isabella sounds fab! I can't wait for the review! I feel like I should add a few more exclamation points!

Daphne said...

Sounds like you had a great shopping day!! I'm really going to have to check out some local FOL sales some time (my town doesn't have a library, but several neighboring towns do).

Susan Higginbotham said...

I signed up to help with the county library sale last year and scored so many books at a nice discount! I'm volunteering for this year's sale in a couple of weeks--can't wait to see what turns up this year.