Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (Virago modern classics)

by Barbara Comyns | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0860683532 Global Overview for this book
Registered by madmadge of Alderholt, Hampshire United Kingdom on 1/2/2009
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17 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by madmadge from Alderholt, Hampshire United Kingdom on Friday, January 02, 2009
I couldn't resist this one, especially with what has happened to poor old Woollies just recently. I may offer it is a ring/ray when I've read it.

"The only things that are true in this story are the wedding and Chapters 10, 11 and 12 and the poverty."

Sophia is twenty-one years old, carries a newt - Great Warty - around in her pocket and hastily marries a young artist called Charles. Swept into bohemian London of the thirties, Sophia is ill-equipped to cope. Poverty, babies (however much loved) and her husband conspire to torment her. Hoping to add some spice to her life, Sophia takes up with the dismal, ageing art critic, Peregrine, and learns to repent her marriage - and her affair - at leisure.

But in this case virtue is more than its own reward, for repentance brings an abrupt end to a life of unpaid bills, unsold pictures and unwashed crockery....


Journal Entry 2 by madmadge from Alderholt, Hampshire United Kingdom on Sunday, January 11, 2009
And to think I only bought this book because of the name 'Woolworths' in the title! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's more of a ramble really in the style of a journal but tells a fascinating story of life in the thirties - sometimes tragic and sometimes funny. I loved Sophia but I could have murdered Charles.

The book is going off on a ring now and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

Just off to work out the order now.

Journal Entry 3 by madmadge from Alderholt, Hampshire United Kingdom on Sunday, January 11, 2009
Here's my 'Tribute to Woolworths' ring:


1. voveryte- UK- ships anywhere
2. MissMarkey- UK
3. Smurphie- UK- ships anywhere
4. TaxManager- UK- ships anywhere
5. waderwoman- UK- ships anywhere
6. Vekiki- UK
7. Lizzy-stardust- UK- ships anywhere
8. wanderingstar8- UK- ships anywhere
9. herchelle - Canada - skips international (surface)
10. spaceystacey- USA- US only
11. Bug2004- USA- US only
12. esg228 - USA - US only
13. Sunfi - USA - US only
14. katiesmama - USA - ships anywhere
15. Mozette - Australia
16. J4shaw - Australia
17. mummafour - Australia

Journal Entry 4 by madmadge at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Monday, January 12, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (1/13/2009 UTC) at London, Greater London United Kingdom

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Sending off tomorrow in an envelope I bought at Woolworths. :0)

Safe journey little book.

Journal Entry 5 by voveryte from Woolwich, Greater London United Kingdom on Thursday, January 15, 2009
Received today! Thanks Madmadge! It's not a big book, so hopefully it wouldn't take too long!

Journal Entry 6 by voveryte from Woolwich, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, January 18, 2009
What a lovely book! I signed for this ring for the same reason madmadge bought this book - a name of Woolworths in the title! I have enjoyed the story line, sometimes tragic, sometimes happy... As well as all the smallest details - this costed this and this costed that. And I think those details helped to tell the story without much emotion and big words. Without iving too many details for other readers, I would just say I was really happy for how it ended for Sophie. Charles was quite a character, though probably I wouldn't blame him to much, knowing the family he came from.

Thanks madmadge once again for organising this lovely ring.

Will be posted to MissMarkey tomorrow.

Journal Entry 7 by wingmissmarkeywing from Harwell, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I received this book today. First bookring/ray I've received although have signed up for a few. Will try to read soon and send it on it's way. Thanks to madmadge and voveryte.

Journal Entry 8 by wingmissmarkeywing from Harwell, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Thursday, February 26, 2009
I enjoyed this although I probably wouldn't have bought this book. So thanks Madmadge for starting this ring. Going to Smurphie next.

Journal Entry 9 by smurphie from Banchory, Scotland United Kingdom on Friday, March 06, 2009
Arrived yesterday and have bookmark in place and am ready to go.

Journal Entry 10 by smurphie from Banchory, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, March 19, 2009
Finished reading this on teh train to glasgow the other day.

I enjoyed this book and was surprised by that as when I first opened it I thought I had made a big mistake.

Away to PM the next participant and will get it travelling off again soon.

Journal Entry 11 by TaxManager from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire United Kingdom on Saturday, March 21, 2009
Arrived today which was excellent as I finished a book last night and took a text book to the hairdresser today. Will start tonight as my reward!

Journal Entry 12 by TaxManager from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire United Kingdom on Sunday, April 05, 2009
A quirky little book.

It is a fictionalised autobiography as three chapters are true and the rest, judging by the introduction, is woven around the actual truth.

In the current climate of "tightening belts" it is interesting to read of a time when the gas and electric would simply be cut off, irrespective of there being a baby in the house.

Journal Entry 13 by TaxManager at Kegworth, Derbyshire United Kingdom on Sunday, April 05, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (4/6/2009 UTC) at Kegworth, Derbyshire United Kingdom

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Posting off to waderwoman on the next leg of this bookring - I have included Smurphies lovely bookmark for you to enjoy.

Journal Entry 14 by waderwoman on Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Thanks- this arrived this evry merry morning accompanied by a lovely Rabbie Burns bookmark. I shall finish off my present read and then get straight onto it!

Thanks TaxManager and thanks MadMadge for including me! xx

Journal Entry 15 by waderwoman on Tuesday, April 14, 2009
A quirky little book indeed!

A very light quick read- I didnt think I was going to enjoy it at first, as the writing is rather naive and a bit stilted in parts, but i did get into it and did end up liking it.
I shall now pm Veikiki the next participant for her address.

Journal Entry 16 by waderwoman at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (4/16/2009 UTC) at London, Greater London United Kingdom

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Being posted off on its next leg of its journey-have a safe trip little book!

Journal Entry 17 by wingVekikiwing from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Recieved yesterday - i must admit I'm not getting into this, but reading comments here I'm going to stick with it!

Released 10 yrs ago (5/26/2009 UTC) at -- Controlled Release, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom

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Well, I picked this up and put it down several times - I just couldnt get into it. I found the protaganist immature & irratating, which I think was my main problem. Oh well... with any luck this book will find happier readers elsewhere. Popped in the post today

Journal Entry 19 by Lizzy-stardust from Salford, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Thursday, May 28, 2009
Received this book in today's post. Can't wait to start it (should be in the next day or so). Thanks Vekiki for sending it and thank you madmadge for sharing it with us!

Journal Entry 20 by Lizzy-stardust from Salford, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Saturday, June 06, 2009
Loved this book. What an apt and humourous depiction of the trials and tribulations that can make-up a marriage. Sophia really impressed in that rather than sitting around lamenting her lot, she realised it was of her own making and made the best of it. Equally funny and touching, this is one of the best books I have read this year. I must say though, that I was more saddened by what happened with Foxy than what happened with Fanny. I guess like Charles's Aunt Emma, I am not into babies either.

Journal Entry 21 by Lizzy-stardust from Salford, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Monday, June 08, 2009
This book is all packaged and waiting to be collected by the postman from work, where it will embark on its journey toward wanderingstar8.

Journal Entry 22 by wanderingstar8 from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, June 09, 2009
just arrived - thanks for sending!

+++

This was an understated but desperately sad story of a marriage broken down by poverty (the title refers to the fact that when they got married, they couldn't afford a set of proper silver teaspoons - but there are times when they can barely afford to eat), combined with bohemian irresponsibility on his side and timid naivety on hers. Beautifully written and highly recommended.

The first line of the book is "I told Helen my story and she went home and cried". There is a comforting Author's Note at the start of the book which says "The only things that are true in this story are the wedding and Chapters 10, 11 and 12 and the poverty", but according to the book's introduction much of the story is actually autobiographical. It's a relief to find out that Comyns' circumstances improved in later years.

Journal Entry 23 by wingherchellewing from Calgary, Alberta Canada on Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Thank you so much!! This book arrived safely today. It is # 2 on my TBR bookring pile!

Thanks to madmadge and voveryte and WanderingStar8.

Journal Entry 24 by wingherchellewing from Calgary, Alberta Canada on Monday, September 14, 2009
I am really enjoying this book and I read with horror of her birthing experiences back in the 30's. Can you imagine...getting shaved, not seeing your spouse except twice a week during visiting times, and staying in the hospital for 9 days!? Thank the lord that times have changed...we are lucky if we get to stay overnight! PMing SpaceyStacy for her address! Will send as soon as I finish! Thank you MadMadge and everyone for the opportunity to read this jewel! ...what Rubbie Burns bookmark? :o)

Journal Entry 25 by wingherchellewing at Calgary, Alberta Canada on Monday, November 23, 2009

Released 9 yrs ago (11/23/2009 UTC) at Calgary, Alberta Canada

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My apologies for hanging on to this book for so long. It is speeding on its way to SpaceyStacey as I write. I did enjoy it!

Journal Entry 26 by spaceystacey from Bridgeton, New Jersey USA on Saturday, November 28, 2009
Received in the post today from Herchelle, along with my first Christmas Card and present: an absolutely lovely bookmark make by herschelle. Thank you so very much for your kindness.


I have already pmed the next reader on the list of this as I plan to read it this weekend.

Bug2004 has asked to be skipped, so I have pmed the next reader (esg228 could not find but found esq228) on the list.


12/04/2009 Finished reading this little book today. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this read, which was written with a great lack of real emotion. Sophia just tells things like she sees them, at times, even thinking that it deserves no better. Poverty is never fun. Will be posting out to the next reader on this list tomorrow a.m.

Thank you for including me in this bookring.


Just also wanted to add that we have been without our Woolworth's in town for about 15 years. I really miss it. Walmart is just not the same.


12/26/09

Because of the fact that I am currently on the Caution list, I did pm esq to see if she had received the book. I personally do not wish to do this to another bookcrosser as I truthfully feel that we all do our best and if we have an oversight, that is just what it is, I am however trying to get my name removed from this list.

Journal Entry 27 by StinaRy from Long Beach, California USA on Sunday, December 27, 2009
Received a couple of weeks ago and just completely forgot about it in all the holiday hubbub. Sorry about that. Will start on it immediately!

Journal Entry 28 by StinaRy from Long Beach, California USA on Thursday, January 14, 2010
On the cover of this book there is the following quote: "A perpetual Mad Hatter's tea-party." On the back, "An off-beat humour." I kept waiting for either quote to become true. They never did -- at least not for me. And although I finished the book, I didn't really like it and found it neither humorous nor anything like a tea-party. The writing was fine, I suppose, but I just could never identify with the main character. Then again, I tend not to identify with submissive women and had I known our character fell into that genre, I never would have bothered to pick this book up.

Thanks anyway for sharing -- I'll be PMing the next reader and will get this book off ASAP.

1/15 Update: Sending to next reader today!

Journal Entry 29 by sunfi from Alexandria, Virginia USA on Saturday, January 30, 2010
This just arrived in the mail. I have a number of other rings ahead of this one but I'll get to it as soon as I can. I keep my profile updated on weekly basis so you can see how close this one is to the top.

UPDATE

3/20/10 - I've tried a couple times and I just can't get into this one so its time to pass it onto the next reader. I hope to have it on its way within the week, I'll make a new JE then. Thanks for sharing this one with me.

Journal Entry 30 by sunfi at -- Mail or by hand-rings, RABCK, meetings, Ohio USA on Sunday, March 21, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (3/21/2010 UTC) at -- Mail or by hand-rings, RABCK, meetings, Ohio USA

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Sent off today, it should arrive in at its next stop by the end of the month. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 31 by katiesmama from Cape Coral, Florida USA on Thursday, March 25, 2010
Book is in SW Florida.........I joined this ring simply because the title intrigued me, but I've skimmed through some of the JE's and I'm anxious to start:)

Journal Entry 32 by katiesmama from Cape Coral, Florida USA on Sunday, April 11, 2010
Hmmmm, conflicting feelings about this book. I didn't find any of the characters to be sympathetic or even likeable; some were more disagreeable than others, but none of them were what I would call stand-up people. The ending at least was upbeat, I enjoyed probably the last 2 or 3 chapters the most.
Mozette has asked to be skipped, so I'm PMing J4shaw next.

Journal Entry 33 by katiesmama from Cape Coral, Florida USA on Monday, April 12, 2010
Book is on its way to J4shaw

Journal Entry 34 by wingJ4shawwing from Boise, Idaho USA on Sunday, May 16, 2010
Very happy to find this one in my Post Office box this week.
I am just at the end of my current read, so plan to start this one tonight and get it back on it's travels again soon.
I see Mozette has been skipped so I assume I am sending it on to the next person (will PM Mozette to check thats she is still not wanting to be in the ring).

Thank you Katiesmama for sending it all this way from Florida, and thank you also to Madmadge for offering it as a ring.

Journal Entry 35 by wingAnonymousFinderwing at Larrakeyah, Northern Territory Australia on Thursday, August 19, 2010
I finished this one last night.
What a thoroughly enjoyable read.
I found the writing light hearted and conversational, a difficult feat given the harsh topics the story covers. I found myself truly championing Sophia's pursuit for happiness all through the book.
I was quite disappointed that I couldn't get hold of Barbara Comyns first novel "Sisters by a River" (1947) so that I could read her books in order, but I feel that starting with the 2nd isn't too bad. I do hope to seek more of her books to read in the future.

I have contacted Mummafour but have as yet had no response.

Journal Entry 36 by wingJ4shawwing at Darwin, Northern Territory Australia on Friday, February 07, 2014

Released 5 yrs ago (2/7/2014 UTC) at Darwin, Northern Territory Australia

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This has been with me for so long. I apologise, it'd been in storage.
Anyway I have found it a happy home and it's in the mail to another BCer.

(I never did get a response from Mummafour, but maybe the BCer I am sending it too will try Mummafour after reading it??)

Journal Entry 37 by lakelady2282 at Lake Macquarie, New South Wales Australia on Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Thank you so much Josie! And look at all the journal entries. I hardly want to part with it. I will contact mummafour though after I've finished reading it.

Journal Entry 38 by madmadge at New Milton, Hampshire United Kingdom on Friday, February 21, 2014
Just wanted to 'pop in' to say how thrilled I am that this book has travelled so far and been enjoyed by so many people on its journey. I hope it travels a lot further and brings pleasure to everyone it meets.

Journal Entry 39 by lakelady2282 at Lake Macquarie, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, February 23, 2014
Yes Madge! It's got some journal entries hasn't it? I am reading it for research for my new novel. I am writing about the twenties and this is the thirties but it still should be helpful. I'm a fuss pot about historical details and I'd rather read the work of someone who lived in the times rather than someone (like me lol) who is recreating them.

Journal Entry 40 by lakelady2282 at Lake Macquarie, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, April 10, 2014
One of my pet hates (and my followers will know this) is a writer who writes outside their characters sensibilities. For instance, we think we know a character but then the author uses observations, allusions and metaphors beyond that character's thought processes. Thankfully this isn't the case with the very quirky and unconventional Our Spoons Came From Woolworths.

Sophia is a young commercial artist who marries, in haste, an artist called Charles. The novel begins quite simply: "I told Helen my story and she went home and cried." Most of the novel is narrated in this matter of fact way, yet by concentrating on often incongruent details, Comyns brings what must be an early example of magic realism to the book.

"Then the morning came and it was light. There were half-packed suitcases all around my bed. The posters that had disguised the ugly wallpaper were lying about in long white scrolls. Great Warty looked at me from his glass house, so I took him out and let him walk up my arm until he fell in the bed, then I made tunnels out of the bedclothes for him to walk slowly through and he looked prehistoric."

Wonderful!

When Sophia talks about what happens to her as she goes into labour, we realise (as readers in the 21st century), the deplorable state of affairs of maternity wards in the 1930s. She is not only treated with rudeness and an uncaring attitude but she is forced to carry her suitcase from one ward room to another whilst in the early stages of labour. It is not in Sophia's nature to question this and be appalled at the system, nor later to really question her husband's selfish attitude towards her and the children. It's just the way things are. As a reader I couldn't help enjoy Sophia's take on life, especially her sojourn in the country, and applaud Comyns for her originality. Highly recommended!

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