Friday, July 5, 2013

A Treasure Found

Catherine Cookson
Catherine Cookson

On our last full day in England, my friend needed to get some things at the grocery store, so while she was doing her shopping, Ken and I and our host, Mike, took a walk through the small village shops nearby. I was merely window shopping and enjoying the sights of the 4 bake shops and 2 butcher shops along with the clothing stores. I didn't expect to end up finding a treasure but that's what happened.

Mike, our host and good friend, loves books as much as I do so he's always looking for new and used books wherever he goes. Most English towns have several charity shops--secondhand goods--that are for sale. The profits go to support a particular charity. I assume the clerks are volunteers much like in our country where thrift shops are often run by churches. 

We popped into to two of them and then a third. Scanning the bookshelves, I let out an audible gasp when I spied a set of 10 paperback books written by one of my favorite English authors, Catherine Cookson. The books were in a gaily decorated heavy cardboard box, one of those sets that publishers sometimes put out. I ran my finger across the titles and realized I'd read about 4 of them but the rest were new to me. Many of Catherine Cookson's books have been publsihed in the USA but not all of the 110 she wrote over her career. 

The woman was a master storyteller who grew up in a working class society of middle England. Her older sister, Kate, was actually her mother, although she did not learn that fact for a long time. Her stories are not suspense or action thrillers, not adventure nor murder mysteries. Instead, they are about people and the things that affect their lives. Her characters are so real that the reader feels like part of the story and as if they knew the people personally. She makes you cheer her protagonists and boo the evil ones. 

I knew that I had to purchase the set of books to take home. I figured I could leave the 4 titles I'd already read with my friend, Mavis. That meant I needed to find a place for six paperbacks in our luggage. No problem, I told myself, being the always optimistic me. I paid the L4 price and clutched my treasure down the street and back to the car. L4 came to 40 pence per book--a pittance, even with the exchange rate of $1.52 to the pound.

I did manage to find room for all the books and they are now stacked on my desk. The hardest part is to choose which one to read first! You might like to read more about this English author and the stories she wrote, many of which were turned into films and TV movies. Google her name or read here. There is also an Amazon author page.

A simple stroll brought me a delightful treasure.

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