A Bookshop and Mrs Delany

This post is for those of you who get excited entering a book shop, the kind of bookshop you know you will love from the moment you pass through the threshold. You know that feeling, when you look to the left, to the right, look up, look down and know your day has just been made? It almost feels like you are in a trance, wandering from section to section, surveying the store as you would a new found home. Book covers catch your eye, book titles lure you in, you hesitate...should you start in this section or over in that section? You look at your watch...do you have enough time to do it all? You want to absorb every little inch of it, you want to lose yourself in story after story.  You want to reach out and touch everything, you want to own this bookshop!

Ok...perhaps I am getting a little carried away, but I found a bookshop just like that in Richmond, outside of London. It was meant to be a quick in and out of High Street, I did not have much time. I found the bookshop at the end of our trip, the clock was ticking and we had to move on. I now eagerly await the chance to visit this bookshop again. If you have a chance to visit Richmond, check out The Open Book on 10 King Street in Richmond TW9 1ND.

But....before I left the shop, I did manage to come upon one lovely delight... The Paper Garden... Mrs. Delany (Begins her Life's Work) at 72, written by Molly Peacock. Isn't it gorgeous!

Love this!......click here

Product Description via Amazon UK

Mary Delany was seventy-two years old when she noticed a petal drop from a geranium. In a flash of inspiration, she picked up her scissors and cut out a paper replica of the petal, inventing the art of collage. It was the summer of 1772, in England. During the next ten years she completed nearly a thousand cut-paper botanicals (which she called mosaicks) so accurate that botanists still refer to them. Poet-biographer Molly Peacock uses close-ups of these brilliant collages in The Paper Garden to track the extraordinary life of Delany, friend of Swift, Handel, Hogarth, and even Queen Charlotte and King George III. How did this remarkable role model for late blooming manage it? After a disastrous teenage marriage to a drunken sixty-one-year-old squire, she took control of her own life, pursuing creative projects, spurning suitors and gaining friends. At forty-three, she married Jonathan Swift's friend Dr. Patrick Delany, and lived in Ireland in a true expression of midlife love. But after twenty-five years and a terrible lawsuit, her husband died. Sent into a netherland of mourning, Mrs Delany was rescued by her friend, the fabulously wealthy Duchess of Portland. The Duchess introduced Delany to the botanical adventurers of the day and a bonanza of exotic plants from Captain Cook's voyage, which became the inspiration for her art. Peacock herself first saw Mrs Delany's work more than twenty years before she wrote The Paper Garden, but 'like a book you know is too old for you', she put the thought of the old woman away. She went on to marry and cherish the happiness of her own midlife, in a parallel to Mrs. Delany, and by chance rediscovered the mosaicks decades later. This encounter confronted the poet with her own aging and gave her-and her readers-a blueprint for late-life flexibility, creativity, and change.

The illustrations inside the book are wonderful as well....this book would make a great gift..all tied up in a red bow.... Best wishes to one and all for a lovely week ahead... I hope it is filled with wonderful stories, whether they be ones you read or of your own making. :)


  1. ... interesting, this sounds good but probably won't be available in the US for a while; cheers, thanks

  2. a friend just gave me the book and you have me intrigued. i am picking it up!

  3. Oh that sounds like heaven to me. I could spend hours in the book shop. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I am there!

    This book looks fabulous! I have it written down as a must read.

    Hope you have a fabulous week, Elizabeth

  4. Ooh, that bookstore sounds like quite a gem :) And I just love the title and idea behind that book - might make the perfect Christmas gift :)

  5. What a treasures to find ... I will definitely look for the book ... I love the thought of being excited by life at 72

  6. Hi Jeanne! This looks like a great read! And, for Karen in CT, it IS available in the US. You can find it at your local independent bookstore by going to http://www.indiebound.org/.
    Which brings me to a little commercial plug for Indie bookstores: Without our continued support of wonderful bookstores like The Open Book, these treasured places will disappear fast. We are all guilty of relying a little too heavily on Amazon, a powerful retail force, for all our book needs, when we might find just what we're looking for right under our noses in our own neighborhoods. Yes, we might pay a little more but we will be keeping 70% of what we spend in our own communities. Sorry, I didn't mean to climb on a soapbox but, like you, I can't imagine a day when I wouldn't be able to stumble across one of these little gems of a shop and be thrown into an immediate trance! Thanks for a great post about a charming bookstore and what looks like an equally charming book! I'm off to Toadstool, our own wonderful little local bookstore, to order a copy!

  7. I don't think you're getting carried away at all. I feel like a child in a toy store when I'm in a book store. Especially when I'm in the UK - the prices being so low. We have a terribly high tax on books in Denmark.

    Jeanne, forgot to mention this on my comment on Collage. I couldn't sleep last night and finally gave up and turned on the TV. I stumbled upon an old episode of Top Gear - cars do not interest me at all - but they were travelling through Vietnam, so I immediately thought of you. I laughed wholeheartedly through the entire episode. Have you seen? I sure hope you won't encounter the same traffic troubles as the three hosts, but oh, the beautiful scenery! I know you will love it there.

    Love the header....and now I will be quiet.

  8. Jeanne, nothing makes me happier than hearing about independent bookstores that are thriving. They are almost completely gone in Los Angeles, and it is so sad. The book you discovered sounds wonderful and I will look forward to searching for it in my neighborhood bookstore which I hope will survive these crazy times!
    xx Sunday

  9. Molly Peacock lives just down the highway from me! She came to our library and gave a talk on her wonderful book shortly after it was published. She is delightful!

  10. I just found your blog and I love it - and am very jealous that you live in England! Can't wait to keep reading :)


  11. Hi Jeanne,
    There is a little surprise for you on my blog.


  12. Making a note about this book right now--sounds delightful! I've been following your blog for some time now but I don't think I knew you were in AWC.

    Happy weekend!