This book was read in June but I have got behind with my reviewing (and blog reading, oops) , so the photo is of my old, mid-June, horror TBR and not the (slightly) less horrific one from the beginning of July. Eric Newby’s book was part of my #20BooksOfSummer project, and below the review you’ll find a report on how that’s going. I’d love to know how everyone else who’s doing the project and reading this blog is doing, too!

Eric Newby – “Something Wholesale”

(19 November 2016 – Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross Road)

This was another book bought on my late autumn trip to London; the only book by Newby that I didn’t have and hadn’t read!

It’s the story of Newby’s post-war, pre-travelling years, working for his family firm in the wholesale clothing industry, supplying clothes to boutiques and department stores across Britain. It’s full of notable and eccentric characters: his colleagues, the buyers at the shops, other commercial travellers and, not least, his father, whose portrait he paints in an affectionate yet exasperated way, in his customary dry and hilarious fashion.

He’s as at home writing about London dressmaking and his haplessness at being a travelling salesman as he is writing about his travels, and added depth is provided by his portrait of his parents and his early days with his wife, Wanda. His father is a capital-c Character, with foibles that reminded me of the Mitford Sisters’ father (and of the same era of course), obsessed in his case with rowing and inflicting boats on his long-suffering family (even on his wedding day), and storing years’ worth of newspapers in his office in case he needs to look something up.

A lovely and often laugh-out-loud read, although there’s a slightly dull postscript about the end of the firm which seems to be there only to bulk the book out.

This book was number 6 in my #20BooksOfSummer project.

2o Books Of Summer update

This book at the end of June was Book 6 in the list and, at the end of June, I was reading Books 7 and 8. Here’s the list so far

Dorothy Whipple – Every Good Deed and other Stories – Book 1 read and reviewed

Mitch Prinstein – Popular – Book 2 read and reviewed on the blog and for Shiny New Books

Jane Gardam – Old Filth – Book 3 Did Not Start, replaced by Helen Mitsios – Out of the Blue – read and reviewed

Barbara Taylor – Eve and the New Jerusalem – Book 4 read and reviewed

Natasha Solomons – The Gallery of Vanished Husbands – Book 5 read and reviewed

Eric Newby – Something Wholesale – Book 6 read and review pending

Nick Baker – ReWild – Book 7 currently reading (now finished – will be reviewing for Shiny so might be a bit delayed being posted)

Francis Brett Young – The Black Diamond – Book 8 currently reading

I feel I’m doing OK as 6 books per month in June, July and August and then a couple at the very beginning of September seems doable, especially as I have a trip to a conference in early September (I also have a trip to Cornwall coming up but have specific and non-20Books for that).

How are you doing?